Friday, October 31, 2008

Como wimps out of debate again

Assemblywoman Marge Markey had responded that she would not be attending to debate her challenger, Tony Nunziato. However, Councilman Anthony Como failed to show up to debate challenger Elizabeth Crowley after promising in writing to attend.

The following e-mail was received on October 29th from the Como campaign at 12:34pm, after several back-and-forth exchanges regarding the Councilman's attendance at the debate:

"We were able to modify Thursday night's schedule so that Councilman Como can arrive on-time for the debate. We will be there between 8 and 8:30pm. Thank you for your consideration and assistance."

Como ducks JPCA debate (again)

I guess after the Catholic church calls you a liar and newspapers expose your backroom deal to extend term limits, it's hard to show up at a Catholic school to answer tough questions.

Here the two debate preservation issues in print.

Photo of Como from NY Times.

Birds of a feather...part 7

It's Friday. We only have to listen to election B.S. for a few more days. This photo features a former president and the guy who's supposedly banging his wife's "girlfriend". Go ahead, caption this photo.

Haunted mansion murder on Staten Island

The mansion -- which sits on a secluded hilltop, with a no-trespassing sign near its locked gates -- has its own stories to tell, even before the murder.

Balthasar Kreischer, a wealthy 19th-century brick manufacturer, built twin mansions for his sons, Edward and Charles, on the top of the hill at 4500 Arthur Kill Rd. in 1885, overlooking a neighborhood that was then called Kreischerville.

Conviction in mob murder at Staten Island's Kreischer Mansion

In 1886, though, the patriarch died. A few years later, his brick factory burned to the ground and was rebuilt.

In 1894, Edward Kreischer shot himself in the head at the factory, reportedly because of trouble with employees. His weeping, distraught wife is among the ghosts people claim to hear at the mansion, even though theirs was the one that burned down.

By 1899, the final member of the family had retired and the once-thriving business passed out of the family and eventually closed.

During World War I, when just about anything German became taboo, the name of the neighborhood was changed to Charleston, and most traces of the family disappeared, including large stone tablets at a nearby church that publicly thanked Kreischers for their work in the community.

In 1996, the mansion became a restaurant, and patrons would regularly talk of strange happenings and supernatural experiences.

Bushwick's spooky mansion

In the early decades of the 20th century it was the home of Frederick Cook, a doctor who claimed to be the first explorer to make it to the North Pole.

Unfortunately his claim was pretty much disregarded; he eventually went to prison for stock fraud and died in 1940.

A spooky old house in Bushwick

But his home is still in Bushwick, between a Kentucky Fried Chicken and the elevated tracks of the M train. Reportedly Black Panthers stayed in the house in the 1970s. In 2008, graffiti mars the brick facade and the turreted roof gives it a haunted house vibe.

Ghostbusters called to SI church

A Staten Island church with some weird vibes has thrown open its doors - to ghost busters.

The Eastern Paranormal Investigation Center is investigating St. Andrew's Episcopal Church for evidence of otherworldly visitors, and the results are due just in time for Halloween.

"There is definitely something going on here. It's that feeling you get when your hair stands up," said St. Andrew's pastor, the Rev. Michael Delaney.

A DVD of what they taped during their night at the church showed heavy chimes that are difficult to move ringing on their own.

"All of a sudden the chimes were ringing. The candle over the tabernacle was dancing like there was a major wind. But there was no wind. And we heard what sounded like a tin dish hitting the floor," recalled Delaney.

Ghost hunters seek spirits in Staten Island's St. Andrew's Episcopal Church

Avella tells Bloomberg off

No one can accuse City Councilman Tony Avella of not speaking his mind. Mr. Avella, a Democrat from Queens, released a statement on Thursday to inform the public about his conversation earlier in the day with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg that centered on the contentious issue of term limits.

The councilman said that Mr. Bloomberg had called him to discuss last week’s vote by the City Council, which passed a bill sponsored by the mayor to extend the city’s term limit laws. Mr. Avella, who had been an ardent opponent of the bill, said that the mayor had called him to offer his rationale for seeking a third term and asking the councilman to consider the matter from his perspective.

“While I appreciate receiving Mr. Bloomberg’s phone call, I told him that what he did was clearly a disgrace,” Mr. Avella said.

“Although he tried to rationalize his actions by providing voters with a choice, I told him he can justify his own actions however he wants; but what he did was still wrong and he dealt a fatal blow to democracy in this city.”

Avella Takes the Mayor’s Call

Nydia: "Land Grabs Like This Give Eminent Domain A Bad Name."

This lady just makes too much sense. Watch the Tweeders' faces as she testifies.

This is a commercial that WPIRA will be putting on the air:

Crappo Italiano in Red Hook

Gino Vitale, a Red Hook builder, is converting a one-story garage there into five single-family houses with private, street-facing garages.

"Tuscan" Townhouses Coming to Red Hook

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Rest in Peace, Nancy Cataldi

Dear Friends,

We are very distressed to report that the Society's President, Nancy Cataldi, died unexpectedly yesterday at her home in Richmond Hill. Our information is that she will be waked out of Kearns Funeral Home, 85-16 115th Street in Richmond Hill, but final arrangements have not yet been made. We will let you know as soon as we learn what those arrangements are. Otherwise, you may call Kearns Funeral Home at 718-441-3300 on Friday for more information.

Nancy's death leaves a terrible void in our community, our organization, and our personal lives, and we cannot imagine how that void will ever be filled.

The Richmond Hill Historical Society
86-22 109th Street
Richmond Hill, NY 11418

Funeral services for Nancy Cataldi:

The Family of Nancy Cataldi will receive friends at Leo F. Kearns Funeral Home, 85-66 115th Street, Richmond Hill (718-441-3300), on Wednesday and Thursday, November 5th - 6th, from 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM and from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM.

A Funeral Mass for Nancy will be held at The Church of the Holy Child Jesus, 111-11 86th Avenue, Richmond Hill (718-847-1860), on Friday, November 7th, at 10:00 AM. A private cremation will follow.

Donations in memory of Nancy may be made to Bobbi and the Strays. Donation envelopes will also be available at the Funeral Home.

More on Nancy from the Times Ledger.

Cardinal confims he's not a Como fan

From the Daily Politics:

"If those quotes on the picture are meant to suggest that Cardinal Egan said that, he did not," said Archdiocese of New York spokesman Joseph Zwilling after I e-mailed him a jpeg of the lit.

"I'm not sure where that quote is from, but it's not from Cardinal Egan," Zwilling continued. "We think the picture may have been taken out at a high school in Queens. He had his picture taken by a lot of people that day, as he does everywhere he goes.

But the quote is not something Cardinal Egan said. Certainly I think people know we don't endorse candidates; we've made that clear innumberable times."

Church and State?

So now it looks like Anthony needs to make an appointment at a local confessional.

1940s NYC returns in old photos

Miss Heather has some cool old photos of NYC.

1940s New York: Cityscapes

Another major surprise - schools are overcrowded

More then a third of the city's students - and more than half of all high school kids - are in overcrowded classrooms, a report to be released Wednesday shows.

The city would have to create more than 167,000 new seats, far more than its current 63,000 target, to reach its own goals, according to the study.

The report, by the Manhattan borough president's task force, Class Size Matters; the teachers union, and the Center for Arts Education also finds that more seats were added under the last six years of former Mayor Rudy Giuliani's tenure than during the first six years of Mayor Bloomberg's.

City classrooms packed, expansion slows in Bloomberg era, says study

Four more years!

The decline of manufacturing in NYC

And there's more here: Uncertain Industry

And the NY Times chronicled preservation efforts this week.

From the Nation:

At the same time the City is destroying the small industrial enterprise that creates employment, it is subsidizing Manhattan real estate. This year it is handing out a half a billion dollars in subsidies to organizations who do not need them, some of which are as frivolous as Major League Baseball. Gotham has bet big on the service economy, particularly the finance part of it, and as a result there could be a loss of 165,000 jobs in the next couple of years.

What New York City has been doing, so has the nation: misdirecting capital, energy and invention away from productive enterprises into activities that put no food on the table. With nothing to sell to foreigners, we have become a nation that borrows from them to pay for both necessities and luxuries. A nation that cannot earn its own living is in for a long, painful decline.

Bloomberg Beats Democracy

Vallone vs. Astoria housing for homeless

City Councilmember Peter F. Vallone Jr. voiced strong opposition this week to a proposed 50-unit housing development for mentally ill, homeless New Yorkers proposed to be built in an underserved section of his Astoria district. Vallone fears the facility could endanger positive renewal developments slated for the area. He has written state officials in opposition to the plan and begun a petition drive to show popular opposition to the project.

Vallone Opposes Mentally Ill Homeless Housing In Astoria

"Certainly, no community can be thrilled about such a project, but in this instance the consequences could be dire for a neighborhood that has long been struggling to improve itself," Vallone said. "For this project, it is simply not the right place nor the right time."

Urban Pathways, a non-profit group that runs programs to rehabilitate the homeless, has proposed building a large apartment building at the intersection of 27th Avenue and 2nd Street near Hallets Cove, adjacent to the Astoria Houses. The group says it intends to take advantage of the resources and public transportation in that neighborhood, but Vallone contends that in reality that area is considerably underserved in both respects. It lacks basic fixtures such as supermarkets and banks, let alone treatment programs or community centers that could assist the residents of the proposed facility. The subway is a considerable walk, and bus service is limited. Vallone believes the only attraction of the site is an available vacant lot, which he says is a misguided criterion for a location for such a development.

An excellent piece about tweeding

Some people claim that the way the media covers Fidler shows a racial bias in its reporting of political corruption. By reading the dailies we know how Councilmembers Erik Martin Dilan and Leroy Comrie sent member items funds to nonprofits that hired their wives. Maria del Carmen Arroyo sent money to nonprofits that employed her sister and nephew. Darlene Mealy tired to find a nonprofit to hire her sister. Hiram Monserrate, Larry Seabrook and Kendall Stewart used nonprofit money to help in their campaigns.

Pork Pig Fidler’s Media Friends Put Lipstick On Him

What is never covered is a more complicated corruption in the white community where member item funds and campaign contributions go through interlocking nonprofits, lobbyists and special interests developers. Umbrella nonprofits like Fidler’s Millennium Developers are just the tip of the iceberg of corruption; Emily Giske of Bolton-St. Johns, Parkside’s Evan Stavisky, Jeff Plaut’s Global Strategy, George Artz, Yoswein, Geto & De Milly, and Knickerbocker SKD help campaigns more than Councilman Hiram Monserrate’s nonprofit Libre get a free ride from the media’s corruption coverage.

The Parkside Group used their relationship with former Speaker Miller, former Queens Democratic leader Tom Manton and convicted felon Brian McLaughlin to pull in over $7 million in consulting fees from nonprofits receiving council funding. Former Thomas Jefferson Club leader Bruce Bender, now working for as chief lobbyist for Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner, helps fund Borough President Markowitz’s umbrella nonprofit Best of Brooklyn.

George Orwell would have to write a new chapter in 1984 to explain how 34 City Councilmembers under investigation for illegally using the member items slush fund were able to receive press coverage that basically said that extending their time in office would increase choice, democracy and improve our economy.

Without an informed public, elected officials act like organized crime mobsters, working against the voters’ needs for personal gain. They create government-funded umbrella-type nonprofit reelection organizations to stay in office. They also create a dysfunctional, unregulated government with no legal accountability to carry out their greedy friends’ scams to make money at the cost of the public good. Our city would be a lot better off if it listened to a few independent voices about the dangers of repealing the Glass-Spiegel Act, rather then constantly devoting their coverage to political celebrities and their meaningless news conferences.

Rangel protest expands

Same store, different day. I guess there still is some of the real NYC left out there.

Downzoning fails to stop overdevelopment

This old house is located at 66-26 Gray Street in Middle Village. It was owned by the Tetmeyers, who are said to have farmed the land for generations. Then it just became a 1-family house with a big yard. Last year it was sold to a development company by the heirs of the last Tetmeyer of Middle Village. As it is on a rather large lot, developers were chomping at the bit to get their hands on it. A QC tipster writes:

I've heard they plan to rip the house that barely stands there down to put up, yet another set of 4 (perhaps 5) 2-family "homes". They put down rat poison, numerous basement windows are gone, the doors are not locked and the roof was ripped off. There is a distinct smell of mold coming from the house as you walk by. Not to mention the "hidden" tractor being stored in the bushes on the side of the house. Why is no one doing something about this? I KNOW Como's office has been contacted. As I would have suspected from him... he's done nothing. Probably busy building on his mansion. But, that's another tirade. Apparently, 311 can only take one complaint per household. So, that leaves us where? When will something be done with the house sure to fall?? It's a mess and no one seems to feel the need to do anything about it.

The interesting thing about it is that there is supposedly a small graveyard in the section just north of the house amidst that green. Several of the neighbors have seen the headstones which they say mysteriously disappeared just before the property was sold...

So far, there's a violation for failure to maintain and another for unsafe building.

There's also a demo permit on file, although request for mechanical demo has been denied.

Goodbye, green space. Hello, crappy houses. Ironically, this is in the part of Middle Village that has already been downzoned.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Overnight fire at Main St and Roosevelt Ave

An overnight fire destroyed several businesses on Main Street in Flushing, Queens. Massive flames and clouds of smoke made it nearly impossible for more than 100 firefighters to bring it under control. At one point, a roof collapsed.

Video: Fire Destroys Businesses In Queens

Water used battling the blaze collected on the tracks of the nearby No. 7 subway line, causing service to be temporarily suspended through the area.

However, service was restored, but one track is out of service, which will cause delays for the morning commute.

The fire is also located near a staging hub for buses and other above-ground transportation.

Video: Huge fire rips through pair of buildings

What politicians, ugly buildings and whores have in common

From the NY Times' Clyde Haberman:

In one regard, Mr. Bloomberg is like Noah Cross, the villain in “Chinatown,” who was prepared to do anything to get his way. Not that the mayor would kill, as Cross did. But he is ready to bury his opposition in dollars — by spending as much as $100 million in the 2009 election, his lieutenants say.

Mr. Bloomberg knows that his reputation has taken hard blows in the fight over term limits. But he is apparently betting that the passage of time will restore whatever he may have lost in respectability.

Noah Cross would have counseled him to hang in there. “Politicians, ugly buildings and whores,” he said, “all get respectable if they last long enough.”

Jesus Christ, Cardinal Egan endorse Como?

Somehow I doubt that Cardinal Egan knew this photo would be used for an endorsement piece and I'm pretty sure he doesn't speak in halting phrases of praise, either. Furthermore, churches and their leaders are not allowed to endorse candidates lest they forfeit their tax-exempt status. And he's not even in charge of our diocese - Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio is. Egan oversees the Archdiocese of New York.
I've never seen candidates use their communion and confirmation photos on campaign literature before. I'd also say there's a bit of overkill on the use of Jesus imagery. Noticed a misspelling of the word "staunch" as well. Ending with "God bless you" - now that's not really enough considering the rest of the palmcard. How about, "God bless you, my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ?"

The pressure is on! Now that Tony's got 'God the Son' on his side, there's only one endorsement Liz can get to top his... Can she pull it off?

Far Rockaway: NYC's "toss-away location"

The crime wave that continues to drown Far Rockaway in fear and frustration is the end result of the perfect storm of neglect. Resource starvation, governmental apathy and planned gentrification have further destabilized the tenuous existence of thousands of families on the peninsula. The fact, supported by statistics, is that violence has been out of control in Far Rockaway for several years. The rest of the city just didn't hear or care about it.

City's abandonment at root of Far Rockaway's violence

In spite of public perception, Far Rockaway is a community of families. Generations that have lived on the peninsula, and have no desire or plan to evacuate. There are families that have endured decades of deprivation, yet have found ways not just to survive, but also to thrive. This is not a community that willingly accepts violence. This is a community victimized by the violence and demanding an end to it. There have been and continue to be forums, workshops and meetings discussing ways to end the violence. The missing component has been the interest of the city and the resources that are delivered to more affluent and politically-connected communities. This is a community under siege, underserved and invisible to the rest of the city.

Far Rockaway, with its oversaturation of housing developments, has long been treated as the city's toss-away location. The violence in Far Rockaway is the manifestation of unconscionable benign neglect.

Photo from NY Times

'Healthy' tree falls down

Hey, remember this story from a little over a month ago when the Parks Department said the tree was healthy?

Leaning trees cause concern

Here is an update from after yesterday's storm:

Despite Pleas From Briarwood Woman, Falling Tree Crushes Car

Parks still insists the tree was healthy. Of course, now it's firewood.

LPC gives blessing to St. Vincent's demo

The city's Landmarks Preservation Commission voted narrowly today to allow St. Vincent's Hospital to demolish the O'Toole building on Seventh Avenue, the center of a pitched battle between the hospital and preservationists seeking to save the 45-year-old structure. The commission voted 6-4 to approve knocking down the four-story O'Toole building, on 12th Street, and replace it with a 20-story tower.

Landmarks commission gives go-ahead to demolish St. Vincent's building

In other landmarking news:

Church and Factory Are Newest Landmarks

The city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission voted unanimously on Tuesday to designate two new landmarks: St. Stephen’s Church, a Roman Catholic congregation in the Murray Hill section of Manhattan, and the F. W. Devoe & Company Factory, a former paint- and brush-making plant in Greenwich Village.

Thank goodness. I was concerned that LPC might stop landmarking buildings in Manhattan...

Citizens Union sticks with Frank

In a fiercely contested election for a State Senate seat in Queens, Frank Padavan the longtime incumbent, has received the backing of Citizens Union, a nonpartisan civic organization founded more than a century ago to fight the corruption of Tammany Hall.

Citizens Union Backs Senator Padavan

Mr. Padavan, a Republican who was first elected to the State Senate in 1972, was preferred by the organization over his Democratic challenger, City Councilman James F. Gennaro.

The organization said that it preferred Mr. Padavan “because of his long-held support for much of Citizens Union’s reform agenda and effective representation in Albany.”

Citizens Union, however, noted that Councilman Gennaro “is also an effective and well-liked Councilmember who could provide able representation in the Senate if he were elected.”; however, Citizens Union ultimately thought that a compelling enough case did not exist for it to no longer support Senator Padavan.

And in other State Senate campaign news - a fight over who is the better tweeder! Check this out:
Joseph Addabbo, Serphin Maltese duke it out over voting block

...the two were asked how they could bring funding into the South Asian and West Indian communities in areas such as Richmond Hill and Ozone Park.

Maltese noted he has funded 235 neighborhood groups. But only one - the United Hindu Cultural Society in South Ozone Park - was from those ethnic groups, he acknowledged.

Maltese put the onus on the South Asian and West Indian communities, charging them with "not communicating your needs and your wants to me."

"I ask you, respectfully, tell me your needs," he said. "I want you to knock on my door. I want you to request funding - you deserve it."

Addabbo pounced.

"It's not going to take me 20 years to get funding into your community - that is an absolute disgrace," Addabbo thundered.

He glared at Maltese.

"You should know the groups in your community that need funding," Addabbo charged. "You have not funded United Hindu for seven years now."

And finally:

Campaign for Control of State Senate May Prove to Be Most Expensive Ever

Crazy inspector and building owner go at it

An explosive showdown between a city building inspector and a guy with a run-down building was caught on camera. Fox 5's John Deutzman reports that it was just another part of a heated neighborhood feud that has been boiling for years.

Troubled Building, Angry Inspector

And of course, it all happened in Astoria.

Tide: Not just for laundry anymore!

Choose your poison, folks. How about some Febreze for an appetizer and Downy as the main course?

Taken on Grand Avenue in Maspeth at Miss Heather's favorite store.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Lady Liberty coming to LIC

For 32 years, a human-scale Statue of Liberty has lifted her halogen lamp atop the two-story American Pipe & Tank Lining Co., on West 35th Street. Now, the small-scale Mother of Exiles is observing its final autumn in Manhattan, a half-block from the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. The 102-year-old family firm will relocate — under duress — to make way for the Hudson Yards real-estate development. "The city seized our property under eminent domain," said company president Richard Silver, from an office crammed with fishing-trip photos, golf clubs and industry citations. George Shea, a spokesman for the Hudson Yards Development Corp., said the building will ultimately be demolished. American Pipe has been there for 38 years. But Lady Liberty will be salvaged. Silver, 69, intends to bring his "favorite lady" to his company's new Long Island City headquarters.

This Statue of Liberty is about to get exiled

Campaign sign doubles as wanted poster

The sight of Obama posters in Harlem is really nothing out of the ordinary, but when obviously cropped versions of them appear in store windows, it catches one's attention.
Here's what the other half of the sign looks like. This one was turned into a wanted poster. Many stores have altered the ads this way. Harlem's letting their congressman know what it thinks of him.

Metro visits Crescent Street

Long Island City. Residents scattered among the block’s businesses — a limousine depot housing 100 vehicles, a newly expanded Vespa dealership, a big Jehovah’s Witness church — don’t linger on Crescent Street, a heavily-trafficked thoroughfare for cars heading into Manhattan.

And it's all downhill from here.

Touchy Tierney

Dear Editor:

Re “The Missing Landmarks Commission” (editorial, Oct. 18):

Far from “missing,” the record shows that during the Bloomberg years the Landmarks Preservation Commission has experienced its most productive period in recent history. In fiscal year 2007 alone, 1,158 buildings were designated — more than in any other single year since 1990.

And the total number of buildings designated during this administration — 2,317 to date and counting — eclipses the number designated under any mayor since Edward I. Koch.

If the present pace continues, we will have designated more historic districts than any other administration since the commission was founded in 1965. A larger number of those districts will be outside Manhattan than ever before, too.

Adding to this effort, the commission recently conducted its largest survey in nearly two decades — completing an evaluation of more than 22,000 buildings in all five boroughs to identify the next generation of landmarks. This unparalleled activity has been made possible through close collaboration with the public and the preservation community.

Robert B. Tierney
Chairman, New York City
Landmarks Preservation
New York, Oct. 20, 2008

Yes, and the list will be deposited into the circular file. Mr. Tierney should answer why all neighborhoods in the city don't have at least one landmark and why some seem to get a disproportionate amount of attention.

Assembly's Silver opposes video slots at Belmont

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) - New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver says he's against installing lucrative video slot machines at Belmont race track, throwing a road block at a proposal pushed by the Senate and Gov. David Paterson.

Silver says building a video slot center at the historic track on Long Island would compete with video slot machines already planned for nearby Aqueduct race track in Queens. Silver, a Democrat, says revenue to the state and racing would simply be split, not increased.

Paterson and the Senate's Republican majority proposed slots at Belmont on Sunday to raise revenue as the state faces multi-billion dollar deficits over the next three years.

But opposition from Silver, who spoke Monday at an event in Rochester, would block the plan.

Documenting illegals: good luck with that


New York City wants its estimated half-million illegal immigrants to fill out 2010 Census forms to reflect the Big Apple's true population and help it net millions more federal bucks.

But that would require illegals to step out of the shadows and reveal their whereabouts on documents the city vows not to turn over to Homeland Security.

With each illegal translating to about $500 in state and federal funds, the city plans to hire community sources to beg them to fill out the probing census forms.

Voters want statewide term limits

According to the data, voters support term limits for state lawmakers by a margin of 58 - 37 percent, with 5 percent undecided. And it's supported across party lines: Democrats support it 55 - 38, with Republicans even more in favor of it, 66 to 31; independent voters also support it 57 to 40.

State Poll: Yes to Paterson, Yes to Term Limits

Kissena cell tower

Hey what's that atop 59-24 Kissena Blvd? Wow, it almost fooled I thought it was a flagpole since it's so well disguised (heh). Of course, it's a cell tower - one of those moneymakers for absentee landlords that lowers the value of surrounding homes. Because if you're an absentee landlord, you really don't give a shit about neighborhood aesthetics or residents' health - it's all about lining your pockets.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Crane accident in College Point

A crane tipped over in Queens on Monday afternoon.

SkyFoxHD was over the scene at what appeared to be a water treatment plant in College Point.

There were no reports of injuries and the crane did not appear to hit any structures.

Rescue crews used a bucket crane to rescue the operator from inside of the crane.

More photos here: Crane accident

More on the plummeting price of homes

The housing crisis has arrived for middle class New York.

The perception that New York largely dodged the housing bust bullet may be true in Manhattan, but in the working-class outer boroughs, house sales are falling faster than the Dow.

A look at housing sales in the city's two biggest boroughs, Brooklyn and Queens, shows sales of one-, two- and three-family homes - the backbone of city housing - fell off a cliff.

City's housing market hammered in fallout from woeful economy

In the crazy runup of housing prices, Richmond Hill's modest wood-frame homes, with their narrow driveways and tidy backyards, rose in value each year.

To some, it seemed like the good times might last forever. Within weeks of hitting the market, houses sold. Buyers bid up prices. By 2005, the market peaked with 949 sales, dropping only slightly in 2006, the year the foreclosure crisis first surfaced.

The first dose of reality came in 2007, when house sales fell from 938 to 665.

Last year came the real kick in the teeth - a near-total collapse to just 348 house sales - a sobering 63.3% drop in just four years.

Houseboat eviction at World's Fair Marina

For 18 years, George and Elena and their son, Edward, have lived on a 34-foot, two-room houseboat docked in a slip at the World's Fair Marina in Flushing Bay.

But in 1999, the city reclaimed management of the marina, near La Guardia Airport, from a private company. In the last two years, George claims, it has refused to accept his payments for the slip and electricity, denied the family a key to the marina gate and locked the public bathrooms in winter.

The city filed a lawsuit on Sept. 10 in Queens Supreme Court that charges the family has flouted rules prohibiting "live-aboards" at the marina. It also accuses the family of dumping waste into the bay and asks for $7,800 in fees and utility charges.

The boat is without an engine and immobile, which the city claims is also against marina rules.

"It's discrimination," said George, citing houseboats at a city marina on the Hudson that have been allowed to stay.

Several of the 52 houseboats at the 79th Street Boat Basin, which has had a year-round community of residents for decades, are also immobile. After years of fighting with the city over whether the boat-basin residents should be allowed to live at that public marina, the city agreed to grandfather in 50 or so boats.


Chronicle defends Queens hipster

Jason Eppink is not a hipster. He doesn’t work in a bar, he isn’t currently couch surfing at a friend’s place in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and his latest public art project isn’t likely to set off any marketable trends.

Instead, Eppink takes the train everyday to his day job at a Queens museum (he won’t say which) and has lived for more than two years in somewhat less-hip Astoria.

But for some in the Queens blogosphere, Eppink is the prototypical hipster, making news last week for one admittedly eccentric side project — namely, dragging abandoned chairs down into the subway to give weary city straphangers a seat.

(In case you didn't catch that, "some in the Queens blogosphere" = us. Although it was NY1 who thought his chair fetish was newsworthy.)

Hey, if he dresses like a hipster, talks like a hipster and acts like a hipster, he has earned the title of hipster in my book. But the NY1 story did leave out a key piece of information, which the Chronicle clarified...

For more than a year, the Houston, Texas native has been rescuing wood, metal and plastic chairs...

And there you have it. The dude's a bonafide hipster.

Como sends out hilarious mailer, part 2

Not wearing a tie = working hard. In fact, he's working so hard that he had no time to put a space between his first and last names.
What is he doing in that 2nd picture - yelling at the guy for buying the wrong brand of salami? And he seems to have convinced himself that he put his foot down when it came to slush funds when that horse left the barn 2 months before his arrival at the Council.

Allegations of cat starvation at Sunnyside stores

Anita DiSarli organized a rally in Sunnyside Saturday to alert the public to what she calls a problem of animal abuse by some area store managers.

Queens Residents Allege Mistreatment Of Cats By Storeowners

She says they house cats, but intentionally keep food away from them so they will be more eager to catch mice.

"They starve cats; they don't feed them," said DiSarli. "You can shop anywhere else but the 99-cent store and National Liquidators."

DiSarli was one of two women who recently rescued a cat named Mickey from a 99-cent store on Queens Boulevard.

DiSarli says when they got the four-year old cat his eyes were barely open. Her veterinarian told her the cat's eyes were only part of the problem.

"She said they are a little jaundiced. He's been indoors night and day and they use him strictly as a mouser," DiSarli said the vet told her. "They do not feed him."

The owner of the 99-cent store denied that he kept cats in the store. But an employee confirmed that he gave DiSarli the cat.

How the Campaign Finance Board wastes our money

This full-color, 16 page, bilingual, newspaper sized voting guide has been mailed to all voters in the 30th Council District. There is only one race described - that for the 30th Council District. Why this waste of paper and money? And why now, when there is a general election but not back in June when there was a special election that not many people knew about?

Collection of term limits articles

NY1: Opponents Of Term Extensions Vow Repercussions Following Council Vote

Crain's: Commentary: Bloomberg won—or did he?

1010WINS: NYC mayor's re-election bid to start next year

NY Times: Bloomberg Defends Term-Limits Change

Room Eight: Coming Next - No Term Limits At All

NY1: Bloomberg Calls For Unity Following Term Limits Vote

Daily News: Mayor Michael Bloomberg: No hard feelings in term-limits battle

Daily News: Opponents of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's planned third term run head to court

Crain's: Mayor's critics will keep heat on

Marge's malarkey

Some years back, residents of homes near the intersection of 59th Street and Flushing Avenue in Maspeth approached Assemblywoman Marge Markey and asked her to use her clout to petition the Parks Department for a greenstreet at this large piece of city-owned property which was (and still is) being illegally used as parking.
From across the street, you can see just how large the site is. It would provide plenty of space for a garden and a sitting area.

This is how Marge delivered for her constituents: She got them a greenstreet - on the other side of a 4-lane truck route, in a more industrial setting and in a space that is a fraction of the size of the originally requested site.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Pregnant woman stabbed to death in S. Ozone Park

Eyewitness News

SOUTH OZONE PARK -- Police are investigating the death of a 25-year-old woman with apparent stab wounds in South Ozone Park, Queens, Saturday.

Law enforcement officials say the woman was pregnant and was murdered on her due date.

The victim has been identified as Niasha Delain.

Police were called to the scene just after 7:30 p.m., after neighbors heard someone yelling for help.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said the woman was found with multiple stab wounds, her fetus dead.

"She has her neck cut and has a laceration on her stomach," he said.

Brown says its too early to say exactly what led to the gruesome stabbing, but he says the woman moved into the aprtment about a week ago and was discovered dead by her mother and boyfriend.

Neighbors say the victim seemed happy and friendly. They say she was often seen at the minimart below her apartment.

There are no arrests and the investigation is ongoing.

This is one of the most horrific crimes in the borough this year.

It's too bad the NYS Assembly still hasn't passed the Unborn Victims of Violence bill that has been languishing in the chamber since being passed by the Senate in 2003.

Photo from Daily News

Testimony and protest over Hunters Point South

The city council held a public hearing Friday on zoning plans for Hunters Point South, which are part of the mayor's $7.5 billion plan to build and develop 165,000 units of affordable housing over ten years.

Watch the video here:

City Council Discusses Hunters Point Zoning Plans

Henry Stern makes interesting point

Under the existing City Charter, matters to be placed on the November ballot must be approved by the City Clerk sixty days before the election. This year that date was September 5. The mayor waited until that date had passed to announce publicly that he sought re-election and exemption from the charter. The delay precluded the public from voting on the issue this year.

City Council Votes Itself A Third Four-Year Term, Overriding Two Referenda

The City Charter itself is a lengthy document, and is properly subject to amendment by the City Council. Probably a two-thirds vote, rather than a simple majority, should be required to amend the city’s basic governing document. But in any event, Section 38 of the Charter forbids the Council to amend those parts of it which deal with duties and powers of the mayor, the length of terms of elective office. In general, it prohibits the Council from mucking around with the election process.

This charter was adopted in 1989 by referendum. It protected the people’s right to vote on issues submitted to them. The charter did not mention term limits, which did not exist at the time, it therefore did not specifically prohibit the Council from repealing or amending them without a referendum, although it clearly would have done so if the possibility had been considered.