Sunday, May 27, 2018

Owning a home in Queens is not cheap

From the Times Ledger:

Owning a home can be quite expensive in New York City.

A new analysis revealed that Queens ranked as the fourth highest county in New York where residents spent half of their income on housing costs.

Gavop, a real estate, housing, and local data analytics service, used data from the U.S. Census Bureau to produce a study on homeowners’ costs as a percentage of income, according to Kevin Pryor, Gavop analyst. It analyzed real estate trends at the county level across the United States and found that Queens County had a median income of $62,207 and a median housing cost of $29,136 per year for homeowners with a mortgage.

In the study, housing costs include homeowner expenses such as the sum of mortgage payments, real estate taxes, insurance, and utilities.

“We looked at annual housing costs as a percentage to gauge how much debt people owe to their living situation based on location,” said Pryor. “Here, the numbers show that Queens residents paid a high median percentage of income on housing costs, resulting in a large debt to homeownership in the area.”

Pryor said for Queens “it was abnormally high for New York.” The percentage was 46.8 percent, where residents spent half of their income on mortgage payments, including utilities and maintenance.

Queens County’s median housing cost in relation to income is much larger than New York state’s rate of 39.5 percent and the national level of 31 percent.

Just going to leave this right here...

From The Intercept:

Sweeney’s office, according to the Daily News, made $30 million as counsel to the public administrator of the court from 2006 to 2017, administering the estates of people who died without wills. He did not respond to The Intercept’s request for comment, and he declined to comment to the Daily News last year about his work. Scott Kaufman, who served as Crowley’s campaign treasurer for 17 years, made almost half a million dollars from assignments by the court from 2006 to 2017, the New York Post reported last June. Kaufman’s haul prompted a state probe into possible pay violations. He did not return The Intercept’s request for comment, but he told the Post last year that he was in compliance with state rules on court appointments. “Any review will conclude that the rules have been complied with,” Kaufman said. A spokesperson for the Office of Court Administration declined to comment on the investigation, but noted that “Scott Kaufman is currently eligible for appointments,” meaning he is still able to accept court appointments as a public administrator.

Crowley’s allies in the machine, Ocasio-Cortez charged, “defend him in court and they bump his opponents off the ballot,” referring to ballot challenges filed with the Board of Elections against candidates Crowley did not support or who oppose the machine. Last year, as DNAInfo reported, a candidate in a City Council primary was booted from the ballot for not having enough valid signatures; she said she was bullied for not “kissing the ring” of the party boss, Crowley. In that race, Crowley supported Assemblyman Francisco Moya, who went on to defeat Hiram Monserrate, a former council member and state senator who was expelled from the legislature after a 2009 conviction for assaulting his girlfriend.

The machine has a tight relationship with developers. Ocasio-Cortez noted in a follow-up email that Crowley’s organization reaped large sums of real estate money before the Queens machine installed the new City Council speaker, Corey Johnson, who has since “led the council in rezoning neighborhoods for luxury developments — pricing out local families and constructing high rises when the city already has 275k vacant units.”

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Push to use video as evidence for littering summonses

From the Queens Chronicle:

A Sanitation Department official told the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association last Thursday that the agency would “love” to use camera footage in its enforcement of littering laws, but can’t because of the law.

“It does help our enforcement because usually its ritualized,” said Nicholas Circharo, community affairs liaison for the DSNY. “They do it every morning. We would love to use the footage.”

Right now, Sanitation enforcement agents must catch a litterer in the act to write him or her a summons and are not allowed to use video evidence against an illegal dumper.

Councilman Bob Holden (D-Middle Village) said earlier in the meeting that he’d be interested in writing a bill that would allow the agency to use surveillance equipment to keep streets clean.

Litter laws are a top issue for the WRBA, and it’s discussed at almost every one of the civic’s meetings. Circharo was asked to appear at the May one to answer a few questions from WRBA President Steve Forte and other residents.

Many complained that summonses are often written to homeowners and merchants for trash left behind by other people in front of their property — some businesses have been issued thousands of dollars in violations.

Sidewalk repair reprieve

From Crains:

The City Council approved a measure Wednesday that will give landlords an extra 30 days to repair damaged sidewalks abutting their properties, stretching the deadline to 75 days from 45 days. Minority Leader Steven Matteo, R-Staten Island, who sponsored the bill, said the idea grew out of constituent complaints from his district—where single-family homes predominate.

He noted that the city hands out many repair orders during winter, when cold and damp conditions can make work impossible.

Friday, May 25, 2018

BDB used Mets games to look like an everyman

From CBS 2:

In an August 27 email, de Blasio said, “Chirlane, Chiara will go to the Mets/Red Sox game Friday night – in very cheap seats… I will go the Sat game with queens bp (Borough President) Melinda Katz. I will go to the Sunday game with Queens councilmembers.”

Outside consultant Jonathan Rosen, of BerlinRosen, sometimes referred to as “Jro” in the emails, weighed in on August 28 with a political “tweak.”

“Can we also frame this as how BdB (Bill de Blasio) does his politics. Some pols do dinners and drinks… but he’s working the Queens delegation and the BP over Mets games. It’s work – him doing politics well,” he wrote.

MTA to provide more Queens bus service later this year

From the Queens Tribune:

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced this week that it will soon offer additional rush hour train service and weekend bus service due to high demand.

Last week the Queens Tribune published a feature titled “Surviving The Summer Of Hell In Western Queens” that informed borough commuters regarding delays and closures that are expected in the upcoming months.

The president of New York City Transit has since announced that additional A, D, E and F subway trains will operate during weekday rush hours beginning in November. There will also be additional Q6, Q8, Q29, Q47, Q49, Q101 and Q65 buses on the weekends beginning in July.