Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Subway bomber waged a personal war on Christmas

From CBS 2:

The subway was attacked during rush hour by an apparent suicide bomber.

The alleged attacker has been identified as 27-year-old Akayed Ullah.

Six people, including Ullah, were injured in the blast.

Investigators said the bomb was poorly constructed, and failed to properly detonate.

They have the remnants of the device, which includes some type of Christmas light that may have been used as an electrical component.

Governor Cuomo said security has been boosted at high profile locations statewide, and investigators have been sent to Ullah’s Brooklyn home.

The FBI and NYPD bomb squad were on the scene as early as 8:30 a.m. looking for any information as to what may have motivated him.

The home is on East 48th Street in the Flatlands section of Brooklyn. A quiet, tight-knit community where neighbors said the only problem they ever had with the suspect’s family was over a parking spot.

Neighbors said Ullah lived in the basement of the brick multi-family home near Avenue N for at least the last 5 years. They said his mother, father, and brother — who has his own wife and child – lived in the unit upstairs.

Another basement dweller, eh?

From the NY Times:

Law enforcement officials said the attacker, identified by the police as Akayed Ullah, 27, chose the location because of its Christmas-themed posters, a motive that recalled strikes in Europe, and he told investigators that he set off his bomb in retaliation for United States airstrikes on ISIS targets in Syria and elsewhere.

De Blasio thinks this is "creative & bold"

From the NY Times:

Under Mayor Bill de Blasio, the city’s reliance on the cluster sites has grown along with the rise in homelessness, which has arguably been the biggest failure of his tenure.

Now the mayor is taking a large step toward ending that reliance: On Tuesday, Mr. de Blasio is expected to announce a plan to essentially convert many of the homeless apartments into affordable housing, hoping to solve a problem that has worsened over his first term.

Under the plan, the city would use public financing to help nonprofits buy roughly a third of the apartments currently used for the homeless, and then convert the apartments into affordable units, helping the mayor fulfill two goals: lowering homelessness and adding to the city’s affordable housing stock.

If landlords do not cooperate, the city intends to use eminent domain to take the property, officials said.

The planned acquisition involves 800 apartments spread throughout 25 to 30 buildings, mostly in the Bronx, which has the overwhelming majority of cluster apartments in the city. The city targeted buildings where more than 50 percent of the units were occupied by homeless people — a threshold that would guide future acquisitions, the city said.

The planned acquisition could place about 3,000 people into permanent housing; in some cases, homeless families living in the apartments would simply stay put, but would no longer be considered homeless. It was not immediately known how much the program would cost the city.

In other words, we're condemning buildings that already house homeless families in order to turn them over to someone else and then reclassifying the people living in them as "not homeless". This sounds like a plan. A bad one.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Soccer or hockey stadium may be headed to Belmont

From CBS 2:

What does the future hold for the vacant lots at Belmont Park?

More than 200 of its neighbors went to Elmont High School on Sunday to find out what two New York sports teams have in mind. As CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported, most locals weren’t very happy about what they heard.

“Like it or not, the residents of this area are getting a stadium, and the congestion is going to be mind boggling,” one man said.

“It’s going to be nightmare,” another person added.

The New York City Football Club, partly owned by the New York Yankees, hopes to transform part of the property north of Hempstead Turnpike into a 26,000 seat open-air stadium for its professional soccer team.

Meanwhile, the New York Islanders want to turn that property into a world class sports and entertainment facility, including an 18,000 seat arena for the professional hockey team.

$3/4M taxpayer money blown on worthless race

From the Daily News:

City Public Advocate Letitia James burned through nearly all of the more than $750,000 in taxpayer matching funds in a lopsided race against a poorly funded opponent — spending $500,000 on a single Election Day expenditure, public records show.

James, a Democrat who cruised to reelection over Republican political consultant J.C. Polanco, spent about $1.7 million in total on the race, according to filings with the Campaign Finance Board. She crushed Polanco, her nearest competitor — earning 812,234 votes to his 172,601.

James was widely expected to win her reelection bid — but still filed a statement of need requesting the entire amount of matching funds, citing Polanco as a strong opponent. In doing so, she noted media coverage about the would-be pol — including stories about how little money he had raised.

Candidates are required to return matching funds they do not spend on their race — but James has just $39,018 left in her coffers, meaning the taxpayers will get back little, if anything.

James spent a whopping half-million in one day — Nov. 7, the date of the general election, when she reported the $500,000 payment to Global Strategies Group. Her campaign said the payment was for digital ads that appeared on social media sites, community and ethnic newspaper sites and other news sites — including the Daily News website.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Simply having a wonderful Queens Crap time!

Where has the time gone?

Where have the tweeders gone? (A lot went to prison.)

Brinckerhoff Cemetery pol feud

From the Queens Tribune:

State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest) have strong disagreements over the future of the Brinckerhoff Cemetery in Fresh Meadows.

On Dec. 1, Avella held a press conference with the “Friends of Brinckerhoff,” an organization assembled by community leaders who are hoping to purchase and maintain the landmarked property, which belonged to several prominent Dutch families, including the Brinckerhoffs, and dates back to the 18th century.

According to Avella, the state provided the Friends of Brinckerhoff with a $180,000 grant to purchase the property from the current owner, Linda’s Cai Trading, and restore and maintain it. But before any deal to sell the property was finalized, Avella alleges, Lancman allotted a higher sum of money for the city’s Parks Department to purchase and maintain the property in the capital budget—around $300,000. Now, Avella accuses Lancman of “political meddling,” undercutting his grant with an unnecessarily higher portion of taxpayer money that tempted the owner to pull out of negotiations with the Friends of Brinckerhoff.

“I’m furious at the city because, meanwhile, the property is in disrepair, overgrown, it’s a health hazard, it’s a safety hazard,” Avella said.

Requests to city agencies to clean up the property have been rebuffed since the city is in negotiations for the site. Avella added that if Lancman wants to use additional taxpayer money in a political move, then the money “should come out of his own damn wallet.”

Yolanda dela Cruz Gallagher, president of the Friends of Brinckerhoff, said that when the group approached the Parks Department about purchasing the property before Avella’s grant, the department appeared uninterested.

Lancman responded to the claims by accusing Avella of living in “a fantasy world.”

Friday, December 8, 2017

Limits on self storage

From Crains:

A City Council committee provided a key approval for legislation to restrict the development of self-storage facilities in industrial business zones Thursday, despite biting criticism of the bill by one of its members.

The measure, which is likely to be approved by the full council Dec. 19, would require a special permit to build self-storage projects in most of the 21 IBZs, which account for around half of the city's manufacturing space. Obtaining this permission would require going through a nearly yearlong public review process that culminates in a council vote.

The new requirement would not apply in two zones in the Bronx and another pair in Staten Island, along with part of a zone in Jamaica, Queens. But self-storage companies would still need to set aside space for industrial square-footage in any project they build, according to the bill. Existing facilities would be grandfathered. (In the IBZs that opted out, self-storage facilities up to 50,000 square feet will be allowed as-of-right. Only buildings above that size will be required to set aside 25% of the space for industrial use.)

The council and Mayor Bill de Blasio have long wanted to restrict the proliferation of certain uses—such as hotels, offices or strip clubs—in areas that are supposed to be home to manufacturing and industrial jobs. Nonindustrial uses, the argument goes, can pay more for rent or land and thus tend to squeeze out manufacturing companies that provide higher-paying jobs.

So you think you have talent? - Speaker edition

It's Friday. The City Council Speaker candidates didn't have a care in the world (except jockeying for position to kiss the king's ring) when they boogied down at Joe Crowley's holiday party. You might hit the eggnog extra hard yourself when you realize what we're in store for over the next 4 years. Go ahead and caption this photo.