Monday, July 24, 2017

Avella backs Graziano in District 19 City Council primary

On Monday, July 17th, State Senator Tony Avella officially endorsed Paul Graziano in the Democratic primary for the 19th Council District seat, which covers most of northeast Queens including College Point, Whitestone, North Flushing, Auburndale, Bayside, Bay Terrace, Douglaston and Little Neck. It is rare for a sitting elected official to not endorse an incumbent, but Senator Avella is supporting Paul Graziano in this race over machine candidate Paul Vallone.

“As the former councilmember for this district, I know what it takes to effectively represent the people,” Avella said. “Paul Graziano is the right person for the job. I have worked with him closely for over a decade on multiple issues that have had great impact on the neighborhoods of northeast Queens. Paul understands what the people of the district want and need.”

“I am greatly honored to receive the endorsement of Senator Avella,” Paul Graziano said. “We have stood together to successfully fight many proposals and plans that would have negatively impacted our district and also worked closely on passing major legislation and actions that have been incredibly beneficial for northeast Queens, such as contextual rezonings, obtaining landmark status for individual buildings and historic districts and, just last month, stopping the giveaway of 45 acres of public parkland for the development of a megamall in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. More than 95% of the 19th Council District is within the boundaries of Senator Avella’s 11th State Senate District; with both of us representing northeast Queens together, I believe we will be able to do that much more for our neighborhoods.”

For more information, please contact the Graziano campaign at 718-309-7522 or

A transcript of the video may be found here.

DCAS director fired for complaining about conflict of interest

From the Daily News:

Mayor de Blasio avoided questions Sunday about his alleged intervention on behalf of a big campaign donor who threw two free fund-raisers for him.

The Daily News broke the story on its website Saturday, revealing that a former city deputy claims he was fired after protesting City Hall's interference for Harendra Singh, whose Queens restaurant owed the city nearly $750,000 in back rent.

The News revealed that de Blasio's campaign didn't bother paying the bill for fund-raisers in 2011 and 2013 at Singh's Water's Edge restaurant until the city Campaign Finance Board demanded documentation during an audit in 2015.

The News also revealed that de Blasio's top aide, director of governmental relations Emma Wolfe, personally intervened in the Water's Edge rent dispute with the city Department of Citywide Administrative Services.

Ricardo Morales, DCAS' deputy commissioner for asset management, was handling the Water's Edge negotiations and says he was fired in February because he complained that City Hall's "inappropriate involvement" violated city conflict-of-interest rules.

DeBlasio doesn't want to see the homeless

From the NY Post:

Mayor de Blasio ventured into the city’s decrepit subway system on Sunday — but didn’t have to face the foul-smelling and often crazy vagrants that ordinary New Yorkers are forced to contend with every day.

That’s because police were ordered to roust all the homeless people from two stations ahead of the mayor’s four-stop press event as he rode from his Park Slope gym to his new re-election headquarters in Downtown Brooklyn, law-enforcement sources told The Post.

The rank and file had until 11 a.m. to prepare the Fourth Avenue/Ninth Street and Jay Street/MetroTech F train stations for the mayor’s brief, underground publicity stunt, sources said.

One source characterized the directive — contained in an email from the NYPD’s Transit Bureau — as instructing cops to “make sure nobody’s hanging out” so that the stations “looked nice.”

Another source said the mayor’s office notified police brass of his schedule ahead of time “with the expectation that the subway stations would be free and clear of homeless people.”

“It’s too bad he’s only interested when he’s going to get on the subway,” the source said.

“I wish he had the same attention to detail when he wasn’t on the subway. Too bad he doesn’t care about quality of life for all passengers and not just himself.”

A newsstand manager inside the Jay Street/MetroTech station was shocked by the noticeable absence of derelicts on the uptown A, C and F platform surrounding his kiosk.

“I see a lot of homeless people in a week — up to 25. On average five a day. Today, I have seen only one,” Ali Imtiaz said.

Fake grass is not a solution

"Another one of those paved-over front lawns. But this one's a bit different. Not sure if the fake grass/Astroturf came before or after the complaint, but the DOB apparently wasn't too pleased with this "remedy."


New hotel coming to Jackson Heights

From Jackson Heights Post:

A developer filed plans with the Department of Buildings Monday to construct a seven-story, 22-room hotel in Jackson Heights.

The building, which would go up at 37-38 73rd Street, would be narrow. It would consist of five rooms per floor–from the third through sixth floors–and two rooms on the seventh.

The first floor would be the lobby area and there would be a community facility on the second floor. There would also be an outdoor recreation area on the roof.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Kissena Park tennis courts need better maintenance

From CBS 2:

They claim the city has left their local tennis courts in disarray.

The Har-Tru clay courts require a lot of water to stay solid and safe. When they dry out, holes develop in the clay and nails start to surface.

Residents said the sprinkler’s timer system lasted only one season. Now someone from the parks department manually turns the sprinklers on, but the water doesn’t even reach the entire court.

CBS2 asked a parks employee to explain, but he wouldn’t say much.

“The people who put it in, they were supposed to – well, I don’t want to say,” he said.

Bait and switch leads to shelter

From NY1:

Another building is going up along a bustling strip of Broadway in Kingsbridge.

The community was told it would be market-rate housing that would complement a commercial boom in the area.

Then Friday: "The city calls and says, 'We're putting a homeless shelter in there,'" Bronx State Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz said. "That means we were lied to."

The building developer, the Stagg Group, cut a deal with the city as part of the mayor's plan to house homeless people in their neighborhoods of origin instead of hotels and large shelters.

"Why are you picking on certain neighborhoods where they're middle income or lower income?" one local resident said.

Department of Homeless Services officials said there are 359 people from the area in shelters across the city.

Some of them will be among the 81 families who are now scheduled to move in the area next month.

"There's a lot of residents that are homeowners, they're co-op owners here," one local man said. "For some reason, they may feel that a shelter around here may bring down the value of their property."

Apparently, this isn't the first time the Stagg Group pulled this trick.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Dueling Willets Point press conferences are revealing

Hiram: “But he does call for the alienation of parkland. So what I’m doing is, I’m helping connect the dots. Trojan horse. This is the Trojan horse plan. He comes out here, he talks about affordable housing, he talks about a new plan, 100 percent affordable – well, 100 percent affordable of what? Is it 100 units? Is it 200 units? I’m saying 5,500 units, right? Point blank. Secondly, he’s already on the record supporting the building of a soccer stadium. In fact, if I recall correctly, I believe he was supportive of the Jets building another football stadium in this park. That’s even a few more years back. Probably around 2008, 2007. The fact of the matter is, that he is very stadium-friendly, and he is very developer-friendly. He is the candidate of political insiders and the rich corporate developers. That’s who he is. That’s not me saying it. I think that if we bother to look even at his campaign filings, both with the State and the City, we’ll see the trail of money that indicates clearly who’s pulling the strings on his back.”

Moya: [On campaign’s prior press release pledging to work with colleagues in Albany to alienate parkland as plan requires] “I’m not in support of any mall being built here. The parkland alienation will always have to go to the State. So we are following what the court has ruled, but I’ve never been in support of a mall. I’m on record for that. So what we have right now is what a court has ruled, saying that we will now have to vote for it in the State, for any type of parkland alienation which is the law.” [After follow-up question concerning campaign’s prior press release, pledging to support, as councilman, alienation legislation by State legislature:] “The alienation will have to go through Albany. We need to make sure that – What we are doing now is proposing a plan that is a plan that is about making sure that we are not bringing in retail here; that is a plan about making sure we’re building affordable housing; that we are building plan that is talking about public and open space; that we’re building a plan that has to do with the remediation and decontamination of this area. That’s what we’re talking about here.”

Moya completely misstated who's paying for remediation of Willets Point land. Speaking about his (Moya's) Willets Plan, he says: "This plan will continue the proposed remediation efforts for Willets Point at the original plan, which included $40 million put forward by the developers to remediate and decontaminate this area." However, the $40 million is merely included in the City's capital grant of $99+ million to Queens Development Group – In other words, QDG would only be "putting forward" taxpayer money given to them and earmarked for this purpose. There is no private $40 million from the developer, contrary to Moya's misleading statement.

The person who spoke at Moya's presser for Make The Road NY was Marta Gualotuna. Googling her name, one finds an article published by Make the Road, which begins: "After learning the Supreme Court deadlocked on an immigration plan that would protect her from being deported, Marta Gualotuna could barely speak through her tears." The implication from Make the Road's own article is that Marta Gualotuna is an illegal alien subject to potential deportation. And of all people, SHE is the sole "community" voice who speaks at Moya's press conference, advocating that everyone support Moya in the election? She cannot even vote! Gualotuna is standing on the left in blue MTR shirt in the photo of the Moya presser.

Queens politics. Just when you thought it couldn't get any dumber, it does.'s not Queens

From DNA Info:

Elected officials said they will bring a lawsuit against the city if it doesn't halt a trio of skyscrapers slated to rise on the Two Bridges waterfront.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Councilwoman Margaret Chin on Friday said they will urge the Department of City Planning to reject an application submitted by developers to build the residential towers within a three-block radius, urging the agency to instead put the developments through a more rigorous review process.

But if the city elects to approve the application, which is now making its way through a comparatively lax review, they will resort to legal action, said the politicians.

"To the members of the City Planning Commission, we have a simple message: if you rule against this community, we will use every tool at our disposal to make sure the voices of the people are heard," Chin said at a rally near the development sites.

JDS Development Group plans to build a 77-story tower at 247 Cherry St., while Two Bridges Associates plans two towers on a shared base at 260 South St. Starrett Development is planning a 62-story residence at 259 Clinton St.

Neighbors fear the collective developments will negatively impact their quality of life by blocking views and natural light, overcrowding an area with sparse transportation and open space options, and driving up property values by bringing hundreds of market-rate units to the largely low-income neighborhood.

Brewer and Chin last year urged DCP to put the towers through its rigorous, seven-month Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), which would require a review from the local community board, borough board, city council and the mayor himself before going to a vote.

The agency shot down the request, stating the towers are considered "minor modifications" because they do not require new waivers or zoning actions.

Instead, the developments are subjected only to a city-mandated environmental review process aimed at identifying and mitigating potential impacts they may have on the surrounding area.

Could you imagine a Queens elected official even threatening something like this? Usually they just say, "Oh well, I tried" while they pocket scads of dough from the developer.