Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The many lies of Michael R. Bloomberg

Direct quotes from Mayor Michael Bloomberg:

"The public has spoken twice through referendums, and I think that if the public changes its mind, the public has a right to do so. I would oppose any change in the law that a legislative body tries to make. It seems to me that democracy has been given a chance, and we should live with the results." –- February 2002

"At a time of excessive cynicism about so many of our institutions, I believe that elected officials should seek at every opportunity to maintain and enhance the trust of the citizens… I believe it is simply inappropriate for those members elected in 1997, who were aware of the rules under which they were elected, to seek to change those rules in a manner that may work to their own advantage." -- August 2002

"My experience in business has been, whenever we've had somebody who was irreplaceable, their successor invariably did a better job, and I think change is good. Yes, you throw out an occasional good person, but you also throw out a lot of people who have just gotten stale and take it for granted, haven't had any new ideas, so on balance I've always been a believer in term limits." -- 2006

"If the bill were to change term limits from two to three, I would have to think long and hard about it." -- September 9, 2008

After months of speculation about his political future, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg plans to announce on Thursday morning that he will seek a third term as mayor, according to three people who have been told of his plans. The extraordinary move promises to upend New York City’s political world. -- September 30, 2008

Term limits were good enough to remove Giuliani after 9/11 (what got your ass in office in the first place) and it's good enough to get rid of you now.

Grandma gets gussied up

Talk about a pit bull in lipstick!

Borough President Helen Marshall, former Borough President Claire Shulman and Deputy Mayor Robert Lieber announced an effort keep businesses in Queens this morning, framing the discussion around the proposed redevelopment of Willets Point.

The trio joined the Queens Chamber of Commerce in a cheerleading session for Keep it in Queens, a new Web site and database launched today that is geared toward helping Queens-based businesses access suppliers, distributors and service providers located in the borough.

If anyone had any doubt that the concept was formed with the proposed development of Willets Point in mind, Shulman cleared it up quickly.

“All of you who are here today are interested in the future of Willets Point,” she said. “Keep it in Queens will be a vital tool to ensure that the small businesses of the borough benefit from this project.”

Marshall, Shulman rally to keep businesses in Queens

Okay, I looked at "Keep it in Queens." I don't see how this will help WP businesses.

Apparently, Jamaica is being choosy about which businesses it will take and the City is sending out strongly worded letters in favor of its plan to council members.

Meanwhile, LaGuardia was supposed to send help to WP this past week, but didn't, according to a commenter on Iron Triangle Tracker.

P.S. What happened at McShane's pro-development rally on Sunday before the last game? Anyone show up?

Lauder makes exception for Bloomie

Mayor Bloomberg geared up to seek a third term after the path to four more years was cleared yesterday when billionaire term-limits advocate Ron Lauder vowed to support a change in the law that would allow Hizzoner to run again, The Post has learned.

In a surprise move, Lauder said in an exclusive interview with The Post that he would back a one-time extension from eight years to 12 years because he feels the city needs Bloomberg to help steer it through these perilous fiscal times.

Lauder's stunning move comes at a time when Bloomberg, according to sources, has told top aides he intends to seek a third term.


And the voters still prefer term limits.

Rebuild the Twin Towers!

The Twin Towers II Redevelopment Plan for the World Trade Center, which first came to the public’s attention when it was endorsed by Donald Trump in 2005, has been in constant development for more than five years. Unfortunately, the grassroots nature of the project was lost on the press as they mugged Mr. Trump for his “hubris,” while missing or ignoring the fact that he was simply advocating what most of us believe.

Guest column: It's time to listen to the people and rebuild the Twin Towers

But we can still convert the current fiasco into something that is a credit to our national character. The only obstacles are political. An impartial evaluation could be finished in a matter of days. We are confident it would show that the Twin Towers II alternative is demonstrably superior by every measure. Furthermore, the transition could be easily achieved.

It’s time for the politicians to respect the people’s proper role in deciding our country’s destiny. It’s time for officials to stop subordinating the rebirth of our World Trade Center to the dictates of New York’s real estate lobby, which has opposed rebuilding the Twin Towers for selfish reasons from the start. And it’s time for people to stop rolling over instead of standing up for what they know is right.

And hurry up, because the trees are in trouble.

One lane of Midtown Tunnel to close for weekend

From Times Ledger:

Construction work will bring a shutdown of one lane of the Queens-Midtown Tunnel much of this coming weekend.

Only one lane will be open in each direction from 12:01 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 4, through 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 5. One tunnel tube will be closed and two-day traffic will use the remaining tube during the 36-hour period.

Theresa Smith, the tunnel's acting general manager, said the 11th Street ramp to the tunnel would be closed and traffic would be directed to the 21st Street entrance ramp.

Rally for Rockaway center

Queens community leaders gathered at city hall [yesterday] to kick off a 36-hour vigil, protesting the closing of Rockaway’s Redfern Community Center.

The center opened in June, following a string of shootings in the area. Residents say it helped to reduce tensions.

But the center's funding has run out, and it is now scheduled to be closed [today].

Leaders say that would be a blow to the community.

“People were shooting each other, the gang violence was high, the buildings were fighting each other. It was just territorial because there was no programs, no outlet,” said Geoffrey Davis of Stop the Violence Foundation. “But then we got that outlet going and we want to keep it going. We got a positive message and we want to keep that outlet open.”

“We're here to say keep Redfern Community Center open, it's a matter of life or death,” said Pamela A. Lewis of All Stars Project. “And we're here to say to the mayor, the poor people of this city elected you and have you forgotten the poor people of this city?

Queens Residents Hold Vigil For Closing Center

Renters are victims of mortgage crisis, too

A growing number of apartment buildings in the city are at risk of going into foreclosure, making thousands of tenants the next potential victims of the mortgage crisis, housing activists warn.

More city apartments facing foreclosure

Nobody knows precisely how many tenants are at risk, but advocates say a minimum of 580 buildings, containing 40,000 units, have one or more factors that could lead to default.

Over the past four years, private equity firms have gobbled up at least 90,000 affordable-housing units in the city at inflated prices and in highly leveraged deals with the hopes of raising rents and maximizing profit, according to the Partnership to Preserve Affordable Housing.

But the debt service on many of the buildings is not being supported by rental income because the apartments are still governed by regulations that limit rent increases. In many cases, owners envisioned unrealistic rent growth, but lenders—caught up in the same free-flowing credit frenzy that led to rampant single-family home foreclosures—made the loans anyway. They sold the loans to investment banks, which packaged them into mortgage-backed securities.

Crappy told you so

Mr. Baldeo was asked whether he might have an interesting in running for office again. “Certainly,” he said. “Would I appreciate their support? Certainly. Do I expect good will from helping the party? Well, it stands to reason that someone loyal to the party would be rewarded. But for now, I’m focused on the success of the party.”

Ex-Rivals in Queens Speak of Party Unity

In the interview, Mr. Baldeo said he lives in the district represented by Assemblyman Anthony S. Seminerio, who is now the target of a federal corruption case. But he did not specify the position he might wish to seek.

Silver shuttles via sky

How do you get from New York City to Albany? For most state lawmakers, the fastest and cheapest way is either by train or by car. For the Democratic speaker of the Assembly, Sheldon Silver, the answer is a drive to La Guardia, a shuttle to Washington, D.C., an hour of waiting, a flight to Albany, and then a drive from the airport to the Statehouse.

Silver Racks Up Air Miles At Taxpayers' Expense

Mr. Silver is one of the few state lawmakers from New York City to commute to Albany by air. His itinerary is probably the most circuitous. The speaker frequently takes indirect flights to the capital, with a stopover in Washington that's 200 miles in the wrong direction.

Allowing non-Americans to vote

"Our policy process and outcomes would be more representative if non-citizens have access to the ballot," said Hayduk. "Elected officials would be attuned to making sure they are aware of all of their constituents' needs, and be more responsive to those and be more representative of them."

A New Push to Let Non-Citizens Vote

Bloomberg disagrees. He has repeatedly stated his view on this issue, saying that only citizens should be able to vote. In an e-mail message from his spokesman, Stu Loeser, the mayor affirmed his pro-immigration stance but at the same time insisted that the "right to vote is a privilege and responsibility for citizens only."

Meanwhile, a report released this month by Dr. Stanley Renshon for the Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank that supports immigration control, cites statistics that it say show that, even when non-citizens can register and vote, they don't. The report also emphasizes the importance of the process of naturalization because its standard five-year wait allows the immigrants to immerse themselves in the language and culture, and develop attachment to the country.

"Each of the five elements of the naturalization process -- residency, good character, language facility, civics knowledge, and affirmation - are essential elements," wrote Renshon. "Naturalization as a requirement of citizenship and voting is not so much a series of hurdles to surmount, but an essential part of becoming American."

Now I've seen everything!

What do you do when your commercial vehicle doesn't fit in your residential garage?
How about making a plywood cutout to slide under the roll down gate?

Just for shits and giggles, I checked this address in the DOB system. DOB got a search warrant to enter the premises and found illegal conversions on the 1st floor and in the cellar back in 2000. This still hasn't been paid or corrected. Are we surprised? No.

(The garage fronts Atlantic Avenue just off Woodhaven Blvd.)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Setback for ESDC in Atlantic Yards case

A State Appellate Court panel has rejected the Empire State Development Corporation's (ESDC) motion to dismiss Goldstein et al. v. Empire State Development Corporation—the Atlantic Yards eminent domain lawsuit filed by nine property owners and tenants with properties in the footprint of Forest City Ratner's foundering megaproject proposal. The case was filed on August 1st of this year.

The ESDC unsuccessfully tried to dismiss the petitioners' case, which charges that New York State's use of eminent domain to seize private homes and businesses for developer Forest City Ratner's (FCR) Atlantic Yards project violates the New York State Constitution's public use, due process and equal protection clauses, as well as low-income resident requirements.

Court Rejects New York State's Effort to Dismiss Atlantic Yards Eminent Domain Case

The petitioners' victory is a major setback for FCR and the ESDC. FCR President/CEO Bruce Ratner recently told The New York Times that he plans to "break ground" in December. Ratner does not own the land he needs to build his proposed arena and skyscraper project, and is attempting to have New York State seize the land for him by eminent domain.

"Though Ratner claims that he'll ‘break ground' for his Atlantic Yards proposal in December, he cannot do so unless New York State uses eminent domain to seize the owners' and tenants' properties and give them to him as planned. But the plan is now in doubt," said Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn Legal Director Candace Carponter.

The Court has given the ESDC until October 15th to file its answer to the petitioners' complaint. According to the normal briefing schedule, petitioners will then file their brief on January 15th, 2009. The ESDC would reply in mid-February and petitioners would file their answering brief at the end of February. Oral argument would then most likely be scheduled for sometime in March or April and a decision would presumably come somewhere between late spring and fall of 2009.

Violent crime is way up this year

Murders, rapes and robberies have shot up in the Big Apple this year, despite a drop in overall crime, police statistics show.


Homicides jumped nearly 10 percent, to 377, compared with 344 for the same time period in 2007, according to statistics recorded through Sept. 21. If the trend continues, the city will end the year with about 550 killings, compared to 496 last year, the lowest in nearly four decades.

Faced with a looming $90 million budget cut and an already shrinking force, the NYPD will be hard-pressed to hold the line against violence - especially considering that overtime, the principal weapon in blanketing trouble spots, will likely be slashed, insiders and observers agree. The department has gone from a high of 41,000 cops to about 36,000.

Hating Flushing's Haight Street

Forgotten NY compares the fancy Haight Street in San Francisco with the Fedderized Haight Street in Flushing. Click photo for link.

Little-known refuges

Interesting article in the NY Times this past week about hidden parks in Midtown:

GREENACRE PARK, East 51st Street between Second and Third Avenues, north side.

PALEY PARK, East 53rd Street between Fifth and Madison Avenues, north side.

1251 AVENUE OF THE AMERICAS, from West 49th to West 50th Street between Avenue of the Americas and Seventh Avenue.

SONY PLAZA, from East 55th to East 56th Street between Fifth and Madison Avenues.

SUTTON PLACE PARK, at the far end of East 57th Street (and other streets).

TUDOR CITY GREENS, above East 42nd Street between First and Second Avenues; climb the stairs from 42nd or enter directly from East 41st Street or East 43rd between Second Avenue and Tudor City Place.

WORLDWIDE PLAZA, enter at either West 49th Street or West 50th between Eighth and Ninth Avenues.

Seven stabbed at Steinway Street club

7 Stabbed in Nightclub Brawl
AP Reporting

Police say as many as seven men were stabbed during a quarrel at a nightclub in New York City. Two are in critical condition.

The bloody fight erupted around 4 a.m. Sunday inside the Tahona club in the Queens neighborhood of Astoria.

Police are trying to determine the exact number of victims _ from five to seven. Two of them are in critical condition at Elmhurst Hospital.

The Tahona is a flashy club with state-of-the-art sound, video and lighting, featuring live bands and a big dance floor.

According to this great summary by Gothamist, this was to be expected.

Remembering our Dutch roots

What do bowling, the Bowery, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Harlem, Stuyvesant Town, the Yankees, the Roosevelts and cole slaw have in common?

They’re all part of New York’s unique Dutch heritage. You might have missed it, with the economic crisis and the U.N. General Assembly traffic jams, but Dutch officials — including the prime minister, the foreign minister and the heir to the Dutch throne — were also in town this week to inaugurate the city’s 400th birthday celebration.

Our Dutch Heritage

The party begins unofficially next year with the quadricentennial of Henry Hudson’s voyage up what became the eponymous river. It’s also 400 years since Champlain sailed down his lake upstate and the official bicentennial of Robert Fulton’s inaugural steamboat voyage.

They must be very reliable!

How interesting that the Nassau County Police Department is getting their transmissions done on Metropolitan Avenue in Middle Village. Does Tom Suozzi know about this border crossing?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Mets collapse on last day for 2nd straight year

Well, that was fun.

Shea goodbye on a sour note

The Daily News has a gallery of Shea history.

Did Melinda Katz sing again?

Hell, no!

Not only is this thing ugly but it is out of scale and out of character for the neighborhood.

Hubba Hubba: The New Museum's Self-Love Celebration

It says "Hell, Yes!" in rainbow letters across the front, too.

Gov says no to commuter tax

Governor David Paterson dismissed talks of bringing back New York City's commuter tax.

...a spokesperson for the governor released a statement opposing the tax, saying in part, "The governor is not considering taxes. He's continuing the process he began when he took office, to bring the state's revenues in line with spending."

Governor Slams Return Of Commuter Tax

We're totally screwed

Lost City weighs in on the state of the City:

We rely on a few specious "industries" to keep the City's engine going. There's financial services, in which people make money shuffling other people's money around. Then there's real estate, in which people either many money feeding the same living spaces through the system again and again, or tear down existing building so they can build news one, creating temporary construction jobs and upping the ante on living costs each time. This process is repeated when necessary. Finally, there's tourism, when folks from other countries come and gawk at what appears to be a working City, and spend lots of money at the restaurants and bars and arts attractions that we keep opening for them.

What's Wrong With New York

In recent months, the Recession halted the decade-long development boom. Poof! There's goes one source of income. Then the financial crisis on Wall Street threw financial services against a brick wall. Poof! Did it surprise anyone that, with two of the aces in City Hall's economic house of cards withdrawn, the City suddenly went from Boom Town to Bust? Now, tell me again that Bloomberg is a great business manager. His company, called New York City, is going down the drain.

Candidates have tax problem with Mike

EVERY local candidate that Mayor Bloomberg has endorsed in the upcoming election is running away from his call to raise property taxes six months earlier than scheduled.


GOP state Sen. Serphin Maltese is slamming his challenger in a tight Queens race, Democratic City Councilman Joseph Addabbo, for also lining up with the mayor on the property-tax hike six years ago.

"That tax increase is still costing the taxpayers of New York City," Maltese declared in a mailing.

That's awfully awkward for Bloomberg, who has repeatedly praised the "courage" of the 41 council members who approved higher taxes in 2002 to stave off financial calamity after 9/11.

"We obviously do not agree with Senator Maltese on this one," said Stu Loeser, the mayor's spokesman, a gentle swipe at Bloomberg's own candidate in a race critical to GOP control of the state Senate.

Interesting tree pit materials


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Nostalgia train for last game at Shea

Let the Nostalgia Train get you to the Mets game as New York City prepares to ‘Shea’ goodbye to Shea Stadium. On Sunday, September 28, New York City Transit will roll out its vintage Nostalgia Train along the 7 line in commemoration of the final regular season home game at Shea.

Fans, along with NYC Transit officials, will board the 7 train from the 42nd Street/Times Square Station shortly after 11 a.m. and arrive at Willets Point/Shea Stadium at around 12 noon. A fitting way to pay tribute to the long standing stadium and the train that serviced it for 44 years.

“What better way to soak in the nostalgia of the final game at Shea than to take a nostalgic ride on the original train that serviced Mets fans when the stadium first opened in 1964,” said Paul Fleuranges, VP of Corporate Communications for NYC Transit. “We’re proud to give the older generation of Met fans an opportunity to show the younger generation what it was really like to take the train to the game.”

Upon arrival at the stadium, Nostalgia Train riders will be treated to the sound of music, as musicians from The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Music Under New York program perform live. Mr. Met will also be on site to greet fans and pose for pictures. And, be on the lookout for free MetroCard® and Z-map giveaways, and stop by Transit’s MetroCard Van to purchase a MetroCard for the ride home.

For customized subway and bus directions to the stadium and other locations, use Trip Planner at www.tripplanner.mta.info.

Note: This event will be canceled in the event of a Mets rain out.

Photo from Carl's NY Mets Web Page

Serf's up(side-down)

As a point of information, Queens has seven Senators. Five are Democrats and two are Republicans. During the time period covered by the data we found, the five Democrats were Shirley Huntley, George Onorato, John Sabini, Malcolm Smith, and Toby Stavisky. The two Republicans were Serf Maltese and Frank Padavan.

Politics Unusual: Save and Spend, Serf; Candidates Speak at Un-Debate

The data shows the tab to staff the offices of the two Republican senators as a hefty $1,809,710 from October 06 - September 07. By the way, that's without the senator's salaries included. Maltese's office cost us a whopping $933,661.64. Comparatively, the total cost to run the offices of the five Queens Democrats also without their salaries included, was $1,532,075.06. Maltese and Padavan cost us over a quarter-of- a-million more than the five Democrats put together.

Delving into a little perspective, running those two Queens Republican Senate offices also cost more than it did to run five of the Queens Assembly offices, all occupied by Democrats, that cover parts of the Maltese Senate District. Added together, minus their salaries, it cost us $1,425,523 to run the offices of Assemblymembers Pheffer, Hevesi, Markey, Nolan, and Seminerio. (Of course we didn’t figure the extra $500,000 Tony Seminerio allegedly picked up all on his own).

We were having so much fun that we just couldn’t stop without telling you that Maltese had 36 staff members during the time period covered by this data. Padavan had 27. That's a total of 63 employees who cost us in total, $1,625.555.93. Between them, the five Dem Senators had 11 more employees, but the tab was about half-a-million less. And those five Assemblymembers you might ask... well they cost us a total of $1,228,387 for the 58 employees they had between them.

The point of this you might be wondering...well let’s just say we think that when Sen. Maltese makes it such a big issue to point out how much money he’s supposedly saving us in tax dollars, it may be sort of relevant if he tells us where all those savings are going. From the looks of the figures above it’s easy for us to put our finger on exactly where all the savings went...to his offices.

Really now – when it comes to our money, who should we be calling reckless?

Lawn litter law kind of a joke

When it was passed in 2007, the Lawn Litter Bill did not specify who would enforce it. That duty was finally assigned to the city Department of Sanitation (DOS) after an amendment was made in January 2008.

DOS Assistant Chief for Enforcement Todd Kuznitz said there are still problems with the law. "It is a difficult law to enforce," he said at the September meeting of the Queens Borough Cabinet. "The problem is First Amendment rights."

Lawn Litter Law Poses Enforcement Problems

The devil is in the content of the unsolicited materials, as the slightest news value makes them legal. "That's one of the reasons we don't have [DOS] agents going door to door," said Kuznitz.

In addition to posting a sign that must be at least 5 inches tall and 7 inches wide that states in legible letters at least 1 inch in size, "Do Not Place Unsolicited Advertising Materials On This Property," two or more homeowners must send the unsolicited material along with a complaint form to DOS.

"We need two complaints on the same filer to act," Kuznitz said.

Mr. Schmitt dumped his sh*t in Jamaica Bay

A Queens Marina owner is facing four years in jail for dumping raw sewage into Jamaica Bay.

John Schmitt, 56, who owned Schmitt's Marina in Broad Channel, was convicted of discharging untreated waste from sinks and toilets into the fragile ecosystem, state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday.

The conviction comes at the end a 20-year-old saga between Schmitt and various government agencies, which have accused him of unlawful use of city-owned land and illegal dumping.

Broad Channel marina owner guilty of dumping sewage, faces jail

The feds sued Schmitt's Marina in 1989, claiming he unlawfully expanded his family boatyard to create space for more than 200 boats. Schmitt's Marina was ordered in 1998 to remove tons of debris from the marshland.

Schmitt found himself in trouble again in February 2007 when the city said he damaged about 9 acres of marshland by polluting the area with fuel, concrete and other toxins. At the time, city sheriffs ordered him off the property at W. 19th Road.

This week's conviction was the result of a state probe launched two years ago.

And this comes from a QC reader: "Guess they didn't get the memo... There are houses on Shellbank basin in Hamilton Beach (off of Howard Beach) doing the same... Nobody says a word..."

In the meantime, the health of the Bay is being adversely affected.

Welfare king and queen of Queens

A Queens couple, comfortably living off the husband's limo-driver salary of nearly $100,000 a year, ripped off the city, state and federal governments for some $360,000 in welfare benefits, authorities said yesterday.


Marina Gavrielova, 36, and Arkadiy Abramov, 39, traveled to Cancun, Milan, the Bahamas and Jamaica while allegedly collecting public money meant to pay for child care, rent, health care and food.

According to prosecutors, Abramov earned up to $98,000 a year and owned a house in Jamaica, Queens, while his wife claimed to be a single mom paying rent.

Gavrielova, a licensed cosmetologist, claimed to bring home just $200 a week from nail-salon work and submitted letters from her "landlord" - Abramov - in which he "confirmed" her rent as $430 a month, prosecutors said.

When confronted by the city's Human Resources Administration, Abramov showed investigators tax returns that indicated his nearly six-figure income.

Investigators also found that Gavrielova's three kids used Abramov's last name. She had told HRA their father was unknown.

The couple, released on its own recognizance following arraignment on welfare-fraud charges, could get up to 15 years in prison.

Rent is free if you have bedbugs

In New York City, landlords are responsible for getting rid of bed bugs in infested buildings and units and they must pay for extermination.

This was not always the case, but a turning point was a 2004 case, Ludlow Properties, LLC, vs. Young, in which Judge Cyril Bedford sided with a tenant who refused to pay rent for six months because of a persistent bed bug problem.

Bedbugs Emerge as New Area of Housing Law

A lawyer at Shafer Glazer, LLP, Timothy Wenk, said the Bedford decision has rippled through the legal community. He said the case reversed a long-standing decision in a 1908 case, Jacobs v. Morand, which held that tenants must pay rent regardless of vermin infestation.

Scarano gets sued

Controversial architect Robert Scarano is locked in two court battles with a young development firm that is seeking at least $4 million in damages for two sold-out, luxury Manhattan projects that it claims were harmed by the architect's aggressive design practices.

Developer battles Scarano in court

West Village-based Blesso Properties filed a lawsuit September 17 in Manhattan State Supreme Court through a related company, which charges Scarano with fraud, breach of contract and negligence, and seeks damages in excess of $1 million for a project at 234 West 20th Street in Chelsea.

But, Scarano said in an interview that he believed the suit was just a tactical response to a lawsuit that he filed in June seeking $208,099 in payments he claimed the developer still owed him on a record-setting project at 138 West 124th Street in Harlem. At $1,007 per square foot, the two-bedroom penthouse condo was sold in 2007 at the highest price ever paid for an apartment above 110th Street, according to Corcoran Group Marketing.

In a counter suit, Blesso filed papers on September 4 seeking in excess of $3 million from Scarano for architectural malpractice, fraud and breach of contract.

Read their lips...

At least 20 City Council members have gone on record opposing Mayor Bloomberg's bid to rescind the 7% property tax cut in January, saying it would cause too much pain to middle-class homeowners.

20 in City Council oppose Mayor Bloomberg's bid to raise property tax

"Many people think that raising taxes is a given, but for many of us, raising taxes is a heavy lift on people we have gone back to year after year after year," said Councilman James Vacca (D-Bronx), who is working with Councilman Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn) to round up opponents.

"You can't go back and tax homeowners," Felder said. "You can't do that until you try to cut a lot more and try to reinstate the commuter tax."

Bloomberg scoffed at the opposition Thursday, saying the money had to come from somewhere.

"They can come up with another revenue source; we're certainly happy to do it. They could, for example, say that their neighborhoods don't need any services," the mayor said.

Jamaica Avenue's ugly street furniture

Since Jamaica is now supoosedly on the path toward revitalization, might I suggest that these unnecessary relics of a past decade be the first to go.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Birds of a feather...part 3

It's Friday, it's raining cats and dogs. You're stuck inside somewhere. Go ahead...caption this photo and have a little fun.

Whore party on Metro tonight!

Hey, now who knew we'd be back here again so soon...
Apparently, local high schoolers have been handing out these postcards at school for a whore party taking place at Metronome tonight.
It looks as though Metronome has not yet applied for a state liquor license, although there is an active wine license owned by a restaurant operating at same address. There is also a complaint on file for violation of the certificate of occupancy.

What can Middle Village residents look forward to next?
Prediction: DOB does nothing, SLA does nothing.

UPDATE 5pm: Cops have threatened to shut down the whore party.

Dale's double standard

Unfortunately for Staten Islanders, the S74 still hasn't veered off Arthur Kill Road and onto Veteran's Road West.

The Transit Authority notified the officials a month after their request that it would be conducting a Staten Island Local Bus Study in 2008 and that the extension would be reviewed at that time.

No official word has come regarding this study, and MTA officials were unable to confirm yesterday when the results would be in. Or if the study had begun.

Bus route still short-circuits shopping centers on Staten Island's South Shore

The S74 runs from St. George to Tottenville but it bypasses by a half-mile both the Bricktown Center and the South Shore Commons, which house a host of commercial outlets from Home Depot and Bed, Bath & Beyond, to Target and Panera Bread.

What makes the issue more compelling is the fact that MTA chairman Dale Hemmerdinger is the owner of ATCO Properties. The company developed The Shops at Atlas Park in Glendale, Queens, where Hemmerdinger's son, Damon, is the development director.

That remote shopping plaza was already serviced by the Q29, but days after Hemmerdinger's confirmation last year, a study of the Q54 was commissioned. Shortly thereafter, both that line and yet another line, the Q45, added service to the mall.

Faced with questions over the validity of the Queens studies, the necessity of having three lines service one mall and the outcry of some Queens residents, Transit Authority planning chief Peter Cafiero told a Council hearing that requests for the enhanced service had been in the works since 2005.

Commuter tax may be revived

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver dropped something of a bombshell this morning at a breakfast hosted by City Hall news, declaring his personal support of the commuter tax and saying he'd be willing to pass it in his Democrat-dominated house.

Silver Open To Reviving Commuter Tax

That should come as music to the ears of Silver's frequent political foe, Mayor Bloomberg, who just announced yet another round of budget cuts and could certainly use the extra revenue.

The one caveat: Silver said the GOP-controlled Senate would have to take the lead on this, which seems highly unlikely since Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos has made it clear he opposes any and all tax increases.

In addition, it was Skelos who sponsored the 1999 legislation to repeal the commuter tax in the first place. He called the matter "an issue of fairness" at the time.

Bloomberg is waiting for things to change.

Rally against FedEx in Astoria

People came with signs held high, chanting, "No Way, No Depot" to protest the construction of a new Federal Express depot on the Astoria waterfront on Saturday, September 20.

The Coalition for a Better Astoria held the protest in front of a local Fed Ex/Kinko's for anyone who wanted his or her voice to be heard. Many residents of Astoria were unhappy when they heard the news of the prospective Fed Ex depot. The area suffers from too much pollution as it is, they claim, without more being added to it.

Families came out with their children, holding signs saying "Give Our Kids A Place to Play." They would rather see the site turned into a large park for their children and themselves to enjoy.

City Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. was there supporting this cause. He is concerned and doesn't want Fed Ex to build this new facility. "This is a very important issue in this community," Vallone said. "Whenever anyone asks me what problems we have, I can't think of any, except this, except pollution and congestion."

Astoria Residents Rally Against Fed Ex Truck Depot

Both of which are exacerbated by overdevelopment, which Pete is not opposed to.

Rikers Island entrepreneurs

Recently, a small jewelry store opened at 19-10 Hazen Street in the East Elmhurst section of Queens, a location that gets a highly specific type of traffic, being outside the entrance to Rikers Island.

One might question the wisdom of opening a jewelry store close to one of the world’s largest penal colonies. But the shop’s owners — Michael’s Gold Market (“The Leader in Extravagant Jewelry Design”) — selected the location with care, said a man who sat in the shop last week behind bulletproof glass.

Let’s Go Shopping at Rikers Island

He pointed to the adjacent business: a check-cashing outlet that offers Western Union with special rates for wiring money into Rikers Island, which on any given day has some 12,000 inmates, a staff of about 9,000 correction officers working and approximately 1,500 visitors.

Another entrepreneur, Christopher Samolis, 26, of Astoria, sells hot dogs out of a truck parked daily at the Rikers entrance, and he also offers many insights about the conditions under which a businessman operates just outside the largest prison in the city.

King Crapper seeks larger bowl

For the last year, City Councilman John C. Liu has made it clear that he wanted to run for citywide office at the end of his current term next year. But Mr. Liu, a Democrat from Queens, was consistently vague about whether he would run for comptroller or public advocate.

But in an interview this morning, Mr. Liu indicated that he was leaning toward undertaking a campaign to succeed William C. Thompson Jr., the city’s comptroller.

“I wouldn’t rule anything out, in terms of positions,” Mr. Liu said. “But I have a strong natural management background. And this is a very difficult time that the city is going through now. And to be honest, being able to contribute through the comptroller’s office is attractive to me.”

Queens Councilman Leaning Toward Comptroller Run

Springfield Gardens eyed for NYPD tow pound

Springfield Gardens and surrounding communities are up in arms over the recent revelation that the NYPD and the city’s Economic Development Corp. are eying a site there as the relocation point of New York City’s auto impound lot.

The lot, now in College Point, has to be moved to accommodate the new police academy, which is slated to be built starting in 2009.

Impound lot in Springfield Gardens?

The plan was first revealed to the community in a meeting of the Land Use Committee of Community Board 13 on Sept. 16., after a handful of residents learned of the proposal from both the NYPD and the EDC, and quickly began to rally their neighbors.

The plot in question, a 13-acre strip of undeveloped land between Rockaway Boulevard and Kennedy International Airport, is being focused on specifically because the Police Department and EDC say it’s the only area in the city that comes close to meeting the needs of the department. It stretches from the end of Farmers Boulevard all the way to Guy Brewer Boulevard, and is zoned M1, which is a downgrade from the current site — which is zoned M3. M1 allows for mixed use, residential and industrial, while M3 — the densest industrial zoning class — allows industrial developers more leeway.

After many members had said their piece, the board voted unanimously, 32-0, to reject the proposal.

A motion was also submitted to begin a letter-writing campaign to city officials in the hope of finding another location — something department representatives said they were more than open to considering.

BSA approves CUNY's LIC dorm

A new 67,000-square foot combined student residence, art gallery and residential building in Long Island City is a step closer to becoming a reality.

12-story CUNY/residential project gets green light

With Tuesday’s city Board of Standards and Appeals approval of seven zoning variances at 5-11 47th Ave., developers of an ambitious multi-purpose project have the green light to build tall in a neighborhood that’s quickly getting some height.

The board voted unanimously this week to waive building height restrictions for a 12-story residential complex, a six-story residence building for graduate City University of New York students and office space for the Queens Council on the Arts.

The approval comes more than a month after a contentious BSA meeting, with local residents voicing strong objections to the planned height and bulk of the development.

The proposed development includes 6,000 square feet of combined gallery and office space for QCA, currently based in Forest Park — far from the borough’s cultural epicenter in L.I.C.

LIC is Queens' cultural epicenter? Maybe 10 years ago. Now the artists were forced elsewhere.

Conover Crap

This is some serious crap in Red Hook. The lack of architectural talent in the outer boroughs never ceases to amaze me.
219-221 Conover Street in Red Hook. Check out the permit for this one: a contractor's yard, a doctor's office and 4 apartments. You can live, work and receive medical attention all without leaving the premises! Does Fresh Direct deliver here?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Shea's potties will be reused by Parks

The Parks Department, which owns both Shea and Yankee stadiums, plans to salvage countless items in the days after the Mets play their final game - stockpiling doors, toilets, sinks, lights and other workaday supplies that will be installed in city parks for years to come.

Parts of Shea will keep on Flushing

A crew of 200 parks workers will remove 327 toilets, 310 urinals, 128 sinks, 528 light fixtures, 395 toilet partitions, 209 speakers, 100 field lights and 100 doors, among other items.

Photo of Shea toilet courtesy of American Crapper.

Yes, it's those stereo bike kids again

The crew now churns out custom-made bikes for themselves and friends with 6,000-watt stereo systems, flashing lights and DVD screens housed around the bikes’ steel frames or towed by homemade trailers. The bikes can weigh up to 500 pounds, with around 10 speakers and subwoofers and two amplifiers all powered by car batteries that the crew receives gratis courtesy of a sponsor. The music, which plays off of CDs, mp3 players and cell phones, includes everything “from the 70s and up,” Anil said, the thump-thump of one of the $8,000 bicycles reverberating from the street in front of him. That includes hip hop - lots of hip hop - disco, and Chutney and Soca music, indigenous to the Caribbean.

‘Stereo bikes’ rock south Queens

Even the police are impressed.

“The bikes are pretty cool and the workmanship that’s gone into them - lotta talent right there,” Zorn said.

The admiration of New York’s Finest is not lost on “Future Shock.” In fact, Nicholas said his crew has never had a run-in with the cops because of a mutual respect.

“The cops, they like us. They like what we do. They’ll stop us - literally stop us - and ask us to play our songs.”

Well I'm glad to hear the cops, who are getting complaints about the noise, are encouraging the kids to make more noise.

Unfortunately, some neighbors cannot concentrate with noise blasting from the bikes on weekend afternoons and evenings. An elderly woman held a hand to her ear, struggling to hear above the din of the bass. “I think the noise is bothering the whole community,” she said very slowly, enunciating every word before walking back inside.

Zorn said the dynamics of Richmond Hill are different from Trinidad, where houses are spread out and loud music does not have such an impact. Here, he explained, one set of speakers can affect 200 houses.

Ya think?