Thursday, April 30, 2009

A couple of questions to ask at the meeting

How can the 'majority of the site' be 'undeveloped' if it contains 3 reservoir basins and 2 pump houses? Why does Parks always write that a caretaker's cottage that was demolished years ago is still there?

SJU student has swine flu

From the Queens Courier:

A St. John’s University student tested positive for the swine flu that has dominated headlines throughout the country and world for the past week, according to school officials.

In a correspondence sent to the University community on Wednesday, April 29, school officials stated that one undergraduate commuter student on the Queens campus contracted the swine flu or H1N1 virus. The student’s name was not revealed.

“The student is fine and recovered,” St. John’s University spokesperson Dominic Scianna said on Thursday morning, April 30.

Building Collapses at Lower Manhattan Construction Site

From Fox 5:

Firefighters are sifting through debris at the site of a partial building collapse in lower Manhattan.

The corner of the five-story building at 72 Reade Street came crashing down Thursday morning.

New York City Buildings Department officials say the building was under construction and unoccupied at the time of the collapse.

There are no reports of injuries but Reade Street is closed in the area.

Buildings Dept. officials are workiing to ensure the structure does not fully collapse.

And during construction safety week, too!

Curbed has some great photos.

Bring us your viruses!

So the swine flu appears to have spread to other parts of the City and around the world, but we are the only nation who is not screening or restricting travelers because of the virus. This makes sense.

Postal union decries waste of time

From the Queens Courier:

Currently, if a person mails a letter in Queens it gets sent to the Whitestone Processing and Distribution Center located at 20th Avenue and the Whitestone Expressway where employees perform all of the checks on the mail.

But, under the new plan, instead of being sent directly to the Whitestone facility, the mail would go to the Brooklyn plant where it would be cancelled, first passed and postmarked, and then sent back to the Whitestone facility via delivery truck, according to union officials. They believe the extra travel on the Van Wyck during rush hours will add on additional time to the mail service and will affect any cost saving measures.

“It’s going to take more time, more fuel they aren’t going to save a dime,” said Bob Yaccarino, President of Flushing Local of the American’s Postal Workers Union (APWU).

Mark Sobel, President of the National Association of Letter Carriers in Flushing, said that his union’s jobs likely would not see any job cuts, but it would take longer for the letter carriers to get the mail, and it could even delay some mail by a day because of the increased time getting the letters to and from Brooklyn.

Brooklyn park is a real dump

From the NY Post:

This can't be what Mother Nature intended.

Years of illegal dumping and unchecked weed growth at the Fresh Creek Nature Preserve in Canarsie have turned the once-beautiful stretch of waterfront park into a polluted wasteland of garbage and dead trees, residents charged.

"This is not a nature preserve," said Maria Garrett, 52, whose house sits next to an overgrown section of the preserve on E. 108th St. "It's a hospice where nature comes to die. It's a nature graveyard."

Spanning 74 acres of salt marsh along Jamaica Bay, the litter-covered shores of Fresh Creek are strewn with everything from liquor bottles to broken baby carriages.

Mussels grow out of tires left on the beach. Nearby are two burned-out cars submerged in water.

"If it was us not taking care of our property and leaving garbage everywhere, we'd get a ticket," said Garrett. "Who's giving the city a ticket?"

Photo from the NY Sun

City can't clean up Gowanus by itself

From the Daily News:

Battling a plan to designate the canal a federal Superfund site, the Bloomberg administration is trying to convince the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to help pay a portion of the $150 million pricetag to dredge the entire canal.

City officials are also pinning their hopes on getting canal polluters to voluntarily pitch in and pay to clean up the high levels of coal tar, PCBs and heavy metals that are in the waterway instead of facing years of litigation under the Superfund program.

But a top federal environmental official said the city's plan to get financial help from the Army Corps and private polluters is unrealistic.

City officials are scrambling to come up with an alternate cleanup plan to avoid having the canal placed on the Superfund list - a lengthy process that could take decades to complete and could drive away $400 million in private development planned for the banks of the canal.

Sears: Term limits "a very small issue"

Filmed at the City Council Candidates Forum on 4/22/09 in Jackson Heights.

At the 1:44 mark, Helen Sears says that term limits is a 'very small issue' -- the audience laughs out loud at her. She is totally out of touch with the community.

Hitting the delete key on illegal billboards

By Jeremy Olshan, NY Post

A team of vigilante vandals whitewashed more than 100 street-level billboards last weekend so artists could use them as blank canvases.

These billboards are illegal under city law, said Jordan Seiler, of the Public Ad Campaign, "So we wanted to use them for public communication instead of public consumption."

City officials would not confirm, whether the billboards, all owned by NPA Wildposting, are illegal.

But the artists' creations -- including turning one billboard into a giant "delete" key -- were quickly replaced with more mundane ads for iPods and upcoming concerts.

The effort drew large crowds and support, Seiler said.

"We had lots of tourists watching the artists work," he said. "I think of this as a vigilante cultural event."

Photo from Urban Prankster

Things got a little nuts in Fresh Meadows recently

From the NY Observer:

When Mr. Tratner returned to his apartment—he wasn’t able to get a flight out of London for 14 hours—he found a scene of utter destruction. Nearly all the contents of the apartment had been thrown to the floor. An antique marble gas lamp that had been in his family for generations had been broken into pieces, an antique clock destroyed. The living room sofa was in the bathtub. All the windows had been broken. The insides of the toilet had been ripped out and the apartment had flooded; the shower fixtures had also been yanked from the wall. Mr. Tratner’s computer had been destroyed. There was a metal antenna that had been driven into the hardwood floor, and the electrical outlets had been torn out. The gas stove had been dislodged. All the light fixtures had been shattered. And there was blood, tons of it, everywhere—smeared on the kitchen cabinets, the walls, the doors, the mattresses.

Who said life in Queens is boring? If this is what the guy's friends do to his place, imagine what his enemies might do?

New direction for Atlas Park

From the Daily News:

The upscale Glendale mall, recently tossed into foreclosure and now controlled by a court-appointed lawyer, will shift its focus to middle-end retailers, and may cut fees for one-hour parking, its new management has revealed.

"Upscale is upscale. You have to have a community like Manhasset [in Nassau County] to keep that mall going," the mall's receiver, Paul Millus, said last week at a Glendale Civic Association meeting.

Millus and the mall's new manager, Michael Mattone, of the Mattone Group, listed Aeropostale, Banana Republic, Gap and Urban Outfitters as among the stores they would consider.

Millus, who is in charge of the mall until a foreclosure sale that is expected in early 2010, said he may also eliminate parking fees for those who spend less than an hour and a half in the lot.

He figured the charges steer potential shoppers away from Atlas Park, which features a Borders bookstore, a movie theater and several restaurants.

One thing is that Bobbi & the Strays may not be staying.

Two-tone crap

Just off Woodhaven Blvd a block south of the LIE sits this two-toned crap. I am not sure why this color pattern was chosen, but it's interesting. Not much progress seems to have been made in the past few weeks, either. The address is 86-18 60th Road. According to the building permit, there will be 3 levels of "community facilities" and 7 apartments above that. What a great addition to the neighborhood!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Swine flu pandemic imminent


The World Health Organization raised its pandemic alert for swine flu to the second highest level Wednesday, meaning that it believes a global outbreak of the disease is imminent.

A phase 5 alert means there is sustained transmission among people in at least two countries. Once the virus shows effective transmission in two different regions of the world, a full pandemic outbreak — level 6 — would be declared, meaning a global epidemic of a new and deadly disease.

Queens GOP continues to lack balls

As predicted: Read it and weep.

The Queens County Republican Party's Executive Committee met tonight and unanimously voted to endorse Mayor Michael Bloomberg for a third term. The Queens Republican Party's vote follows that of the Kings, Richmond and Bronx County Republican Executive Committees and paves the way for Mayor Bloomberg to run once more on the Republican Party's line.

Queens hospitals' strange swine flu policy

From the Queens Courier:

...MediSys is reporting patients with flu-like symptoms to the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH).

“We saw a lot of patients in the last week-and-a-half,” said Dr. Robert Mittman, a Bayside immunologist in private practice.

He told The Courier that many of these were teachers and nurses from Saint Francis Prep and P.S. 177, and that most were fairly symptomatic, but none was very sick.

Only the “very sick” are to be swabbed for swine flu, according to Mittman.

Why? Wouldn't you want to identify the virus before the person gets to the "very sick" point and infects God knows how many others?

P.S. This health care crisis with an epicenter in Queens was perfectly timed to follow the closing of 2 of our hospitals, dontcha think?

Happy birthday, Whitestone Bridge!

NEW YORK (AP) -- She doesn't look a day over 60.

During 1939 opening ceremonies, master builder Robert Moses declared New York's Whitestone "the finest suspension bridge of them all."

On Wednesday, the Whitestone turned 70 years old.

The bridge spans the East River, linking the Bronx to Queens, and points beyond.

MTA Bridges and Tunnels says that in its first year of operation, 6 million vehicles used the Whitestone. Last year, there were 43 million crossings.

Violent offenders get around Mike's gun laws

From the NY Times:

In 2008, even as gun killings fell, the number of killings committed with knives or other “cutting instruments” rose 50 percent in New York City, the Police Department said: to 125 from 83. Some other large cities saw no such increase last year, and police officials and experts are at a loss to explain what is either a new trend or a spike.

Financial focus on Flushing

From WNYC:

Located in a brand new high rise building, complete with Times Square-style jumbotrons on its façade, Paris Baguette is just one example of new businesses trying to cash in on a neighborhood that’s bursting at the seams. A new traffic plan is being designed to address the chronic congestion. And the future build-out of nearby Willets Point, plus a large-scale project slated to replace the area’s main parking lot, are both in development. In short, New York City’s most visible Main Street is not slowing down.

And from the NY Times:

At first glance, it looks as if the recession has spared downtown Flushing from the shuttered storefronts and silent sidewalks in many New York City neighborhoods. Along Main Street, in the heart of Community Board 7, the sidewalks are crowded with shoppers clutching red plastic shopping bags, darting in and out of shops and haggling with street vendors over slippers and DVDs.

But that doesn’t mean that the area, known as one of the city’s other Chinatowns, isn’t struggling. Peter Koo, who was born in Shanghai and arrived in Flushing 26 years ago, notes that the effects are just more subtle. Business has dropped about 10 percent at the five pharmacies he owns there as shoppers cut back on beauty products like makeup, combs and mirrors.

As president of the Flushing Chinese Business Association and a founder of the Flushing Business Improvement District, he has also heard from fellow business owners running restaurants, bakeries, barber shops and beauty salons that business has dropped by as much as 30 percent and that owners have trimmed some workers’ weekly schedules to four days from six.

Contamination coverup, part 2

From the Daily News

The city now acknowledges finding illegal levels of toxins in 19 public schools across the city.

The 19 schools are in addition to six public schools where lab tests commissioned by the Daily News last year found illegal levels of polychlorinated biphenyls in window caulking.

The findings add momentum to a lawsuit filed by Naomi Gonzalez, whose two children attend Public School 178 in Co-op City — one of the schools tested by The News.

Gonzalez last month filed the first stage of a lawsuit designed to force the city Department of Education to remove PCB-laced caulking from all public schools.

Since The News’ investigation, the School Construction Authority has tested caulking for PCBs prior to doing renovation work, in accordance with new state guidelines.

“Of 77 schools undergoing renovation work last summer, 19 had caulk with PCB concentrations greater than 50 parts per million,” the DOE said in a statement.

By federal law, any material with PCB contamination of 50 ppm or higher is considered hazardous waste and must be removed immediately.

Why does Mike Bloomberg want kids to study in toxic environments so badly? Or is he going to pull another Air Force One photo op excuse out of his ass and claim he didn't know about this, either?

Bklyn builder dumps cash on Quinn & Katz

From the NY Post:

A controversial condo project next to the Brooklyn Bridge is sailing through the city's land-use review process -- and that has caught the attention of good government groups, who say the secret of its success may lie in the lobbying megabucks the developer doled out.

The project has a staunch opponent in local Councilman David Yassky, who says the Dock Street building in DUMBO is out of scale and too close to the bridge, forever destroying historic views of the iconic span. And that adversary, says Dick Dadey, executive director of the government watchdog group Citizens Union, "should have been enough to kill it a long time ago" because the council historically backs local council members on land-use issues.

The owners of the company, David and Jed Walentas, and their top staff have doled out $29,700 in campaign donations to Councilwoman Melinda Katz and another $19,800 to Council Speaker Christine Quinn, since the project was resubmitted in 2007, records show.

Grace Meng expecting a baby

From the Queens Chronicle:

Only in office for three and a half months, Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) is learning the ropes in Albany, juggling home life with a 16-month-old and expecting another baby in September.

“The pregnancy wasn’t planned, but it has worked out well since we are basically not in Albany from July to December,” Meng said.

The baby will be three months old when the state Legislature reconvenes in January and the assemblywoman expects to take the new arrival with her to Albany for a few months.

Triboro Bridge hawk nest is back

From Urban Hawks:

It's clear by the parents behavior, that they're no longer sitting on eggs, but have hatchlings...

Finance commissioner quits

From the NY Post:

Embattled city Finance Commissioner Martha Stark quit [yester]day amid a probe of her dating a former subordinate, who quickly moved up in the ranks at the agency.

Mayor Bloomberg had tried to show her the door a week after The Post broke the story on April 12, but she initially refused to go, sources said.

Queens Crap built in Williamsburg

It's amazing the things you find when you Google "Queens Crap." This isn't even one of mine, but the author knows it when he sees it.

From Waterfront Preservation Alliance:

99 South 4th Street

Not sure what went on here, cause I've never seen the word "suspended" on a permit before.

107 South 4th Street

This one apparently is not new, but an alteration, at least by DOB standards. Frank, how did you get away with these?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

St. Saviour's site excavated without permit

Scott and Tommy are now excavating the St. Saviour's site without a permit. Surprise! The DOB states the following: Do not work in an excavation or trench that is not properly protected. Do not store spoil, materials or equipment along the edge of an excavation or trench. Do not drive or park vehicles along the edge of an excavation or trench. Oh well, I guess they'll get around to inspecting this one day...

If there actually are bodies buried there we'll never know. Maspeth gets screwed yet again. Let's recall what our current Council Member, Elizabeth Crowley, had to say about this site before she was elected:

(She was being handled by the Parkside Group back then, who was also lobbying on behalf of the developers.) Thanks for looking out for us developers, Liz!

Everyone knew except Bloomberg (yeah, ok!)

From CBS 2:

Federal officials knew that sending two fighter jets and Air Force One to buzz ground zero and Lady Liberty might set off nightmarish fears of a 9/11 replay, but they still ordered the photo-op kept secret from the public.

In a memo obtained by CBS 2 HD the Federal Aviation Administration's James Johnston said the agency was aware of "the possibility of public concern regarding DOD (Department of Defense) aircraft flying at low altitudes" in an around New York City. But they demanded total secrecy from the NYPD, the Secret Service, the FBI and even the mayor's office and threatened federal sanctions if the secret got out.

Hey, if the Mayor is going to contend that a report about contamination at a potential school site was "released" to the public because it was mailed to the CB5 district manager and available at SCA headquarters and therefore the community should have known about it, then I am going to hold him accountable for knowing about this faux pas and not doing anything about it. Top secret instructions are handed down by the feds and your lackeys get it but don't tell you? Stop playing stupid. We're not buying it.

Swine flu eyed in 2 U.S. deaths

From Fox News:

The Los Angeles County coroner's office is investigating two recent deaths for links to swine flu.

Coroner's Capt. John Kades says tests are being run on two bodies to see if swine flu was a factor in their deaths, but there is no confirmation that the disease killed them.

The Los Angeles Times reports on its Web site that both men's deaths were reported to the coroner's office on Monday.

Coroner's spokesman Craig Harvey told the paper that a Bellflower hospital reported the death of a 33-year-old Long Beach man who was brought in Saturday with symptoms resembling swine flu.

The other death was a 45-year-old La Mirada man who died April 22 at a Norwalk hospital.

The World Heath Organization has now confirmed person-to-person transmission of the swine flu virus in the United States.

It's also spreading worldwide.

Update: A baby in Texas is confirmed to have died from it.

Our official apple?

From the NY Times:

The apple of the Big Apple is almost nearly always portrayed as red (despite City Hall’s recent environmental aspirations).

But what if it were actually green?

A coalition of local environmental groups and a city councilman are pushing for a lopsided, mottled green apple to be the “official apple of New York.”

The apple in question is the Newtown Pippin, which originated in what is now Elmhurst, Queens, around 1720 and then ascended to become a trademark apple for Colonial America. It is believed to be one of the only — if not the only — apple that originated in the five boroughs of New York City. But the Newtown Pippin has long faded from local orchards (though it has remained a niche product in Virginia under the name Albermarle Pippin).

Apply for a free sapling here.

Contamination coverup

From the Times Newsweekly:

Copies of the EIS were distributed to Community Board 5 in February and to the City Council when the high school project was introduced for their consideration, said a spokesperson for the city's Department of Education (DOE).

The report, along with other materials pertaining to the proposal, were also made available for public viewing at the SCA's office on Thomson Avenue in Long Island City prior to the SCA's February public hearing, the spokesperson added.

Following standard procedure, the spokesperson said, copies of the EIS were neither posted on the SCA's website nor were they disseminated to attendees at the public hearing.

Interesting. The information was given to certain people, but intentionally hid from the general public. And this is "standard procedure." Let's continue...

[Environmental scientist Dr. James] Cervino stated...that he found the study "highly ambiguous and lacking scientific credit in its present format."

He requested to see the hard data chemical results from the project, pointing to recent news reports regarding the discovery at other school sites of elevated levels of heavy metals deemed hazardous under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976.

So an expert is raising an alarm bell. Perhaps we should play it safe and conduct more testing by a third party before we proceed with construction or purchase the property.

Asked why environmental issues never came up during the debate, Board 5 District Manager Gary Giordano said in a phone interview that the advisory body was "so attentive to the issues at hand" regarding the school structure itself, the students it would serve and its impact on the surrounding community.

"We would hope that a government agency of significant size and staff, such as the School Construction Authority and the Department of Education, would make good judgments with regard to a proposed school site and any environmental issues," Giordano told the Times Newsweekly. "In this instance, maybe we were too trusting."

Why did you fail to inform the actual voting members of the board that this report was available?

Council Member Crowley said in a statement that "[t]oxins in soil on industrial sites is a given," adding that the SCA and DOE "are obliged by law to clean up any contamination on school construction sites before building a school."

Actually, no they're not. And if you read the SCA's report, you would understand that they have no intention of doing so. And since you said you, "will not allow a shovel in the ground until all cleanup efforts have been completed and the site has been given a clean bill of health," then I guess that means this school will never be built. Right, Liz? Let's remember you're supposedly against the school.

Photo from the Times Ledger

High rises in Hallett's Cove?

This comes from the Long Island City Alliance.

Hypocrisy at its best

From the NY Post:

Despite Mayor Bloomberg's crusade against cigarettes, city pension funds remain heavily invested in Big Tobacco -- with more than 6 million shares, worth $103 million.

The $82.5 billion pension system owns 6,024,823 shares of Altria, formerly known as Philip Morris, according to an agenda for the company's stockholders meeting next month.

Critics fumed when told that mountains of taxpayer money are being invested in cigarettes, described as "accessories to murder" by the city's own health commissioner in 2006.

"I think it is absurd," City Councilman Tony Avella said. "Given the anti-smoking effort New York has launched, to invest in a company whose primary product is cigarettes is counterproductive."

And the Comptroller's got pension issues, too.

Project elevators to finally be repaired

From AM-NY:

New York City housing projects will get $423 million in federal stimulus money.

Nearly $70 million will go toward repairing and upgrading elevators. There have been several accidents involving elevators in housing projects in recent years.

More than $200 million will go toward improvements that will make the city Housing Authority more energy efficient like new appliances and electrical upgrades.

Pratt guy wants Gowanus development really badly

From Pardon Me for Asking:

For almost two hours, the six candidates for the 39th Council district seat, currently held by Bill DeBlasio, were subjected to tough questioning on issues that are important to Carroll Gardeners.

Brad Lander, Director of the Pratt Center For Community Development, is skeptical of a Superfund designation without a commitment for necessary funds. He would like to see the EPA clean up the canal first with their monies and then go after the polluters to recoup the cost.

The best answer, in my opinion, came from Gary Reilly, an environmental and land use attorney who sees the potential Superfund designation as a " tremendously positive development". He feels that the NYS Department Of Environmental Conservation changed the discussion on the Gowanus Canal when they asked the EPA to take over the clean-up and " took it out of our hands".

He also set the record straight about funding for Superfund, by reminding everyone that the government has just allocated $ 600 million in additional funds for the Superfund program.

Brad Lander was asked if the Public Place project should move forward in light of the severity of toxic substance pollution and the possible designation of the canal as a Superfund site.

Lander expressed his hope that the public place development move forward as quickly as possible stating that the project will include 2/3 affordable housing.

Brad Lander sounds like the perfect Tweeder!

Times visits lovely Laurelton

From the NY Times:

In parts of Laurelton, Queens, you can look down seemingly endless streets lined with Tudor homes, each a collection of squat rectangles with roofs so pointed as to have come from a child’s drawing. Whether separated by sideyards or joined as row houses spanning the length of entire blocks, they create a repetitive, geometrical effect.

Elsewhere in the city, such oneness of design can suggest impersonality. Here it is stately and pleasant, the pride of a community that has devoted much time and effort to protecting the homes that are its foundation.

The rest of the article doesn't paint so rosy a picture, however.

Corona triangle crap

Any of you who travel on the LIE have no doubt seen this on the north side of the expressway in Corona. But did you ever wonder what the hell is going on there?
I mean, this is what it was originally. I believe this was a laundromat/dry cleaning business. But now they're building 5 more stories on top of it containing 24 housing units. You'd think this would require a new building permit.
Especially since satellite photos seem to indicate that a new foundation was poured. But no demo or new building permits are to be found!

Interesting list of complaints on this one.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Astoria has another blackout!

From AM-NY:

Astoria residents temporarily without power, evacuated

It was déjà vu all over again for a block of Astoria residents yesterday after an outage left scores of residents without power on one of the warmest days of the year.

The neighborhood, hard hit during a days-long power outage in the summer of 2006, got a little taste of power trouble starting at 11:45 a.m. yesterday when a smoldering service box containing electric cables sent carbon monoxide into nearby homes and severed power.

About 40 people were evacuated and 25 customers lost power. A customer represents one meter, so potentially hundreds of people were left powerless. The incident happened on Crescent Street, between 23rd and 24th avenues. Power was restored by evening, said Chris Olert, a utility spokesman.

The cause of the outage is under investigation.

(Marlene Naanes)

And it's only April....

Interesting how they will evacuate for carbon monoxide (a gas) but not natural gas.

Photo from mercurialn on Flickr

Bloomberg clueless about plane photo op?

From the NY Times:

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg says he is furious that the federal government flew a presidential Boeing 747 and a fighter jet near ground zero. The incident on Monday caused a brief panic among workers, who said they were not notified in advance.

Bloomberg says the flyover so near the World Trade Center site showed ''poor judgment'' and was insensitive. He says he is furious that the NYPD and another city agency were notified last week, but did not tell him.

If he had known, Bloomberg says he would have tried to stop it.

Is this guy trying to throw his police department under the bus to save face? What happened to his "get over it" attitude?

Attention SFP Terriers!

If you are a current student at SFP or a parent of a student and would like to be interviewed for a NYC-based national daytime TV show about the swine flu, please write to me at and I will send you the details.


Can't wait for summer!

Wave of Shootings Accompanies NYC Heat Wave

NEW YORK (AP) -- New York City police are investigating a wave of gun violence that coincided with the early spring heat wave.

Fourteen people were shot in eight incidents over the weekend.

In Harlem, a 13-year-old boy was shot in the head as hundreds of teens gathered on a corner at around 1:20 a.m. Sunday. Two others, including a correction officer, were hit in the legs and expected to recover.

In The Bronx, a man was shot in the head and listed in critical condition. Another man was shot four times in The Bronx and isn't expected to survive. Another Bronx man died after he apparently was shot accidentally while handling a gun on the street.

Eight other people, including four under 18, were shot in The Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens.

But Mayor Bloomberg would like to remind you that crime is down.

Queens paper vs. illegal immigration

Editorial from the Times Newsweekly:

Certain organizations are big on granting amnesty to illegal immigrants. Churches, seeking to increase their membership, are strong advocates of pardons for breaking the law. As the number of their flocks dwindles, illegal immigrants present a new wave of parishioners.

Democrats seem to favor amnesty since it has been a tradition that newcomers, legal or illegal, become Democrats. By adding millions to their party, the scale of elections will effectively tip in their favor.

Labor groups like the A.F.L.-C.I.O. and the Change to Win federation are banding to endorse the legalization of illegal immigrants already in the U.S. — and why not? Labor unions, always seeking new members, see a workforce of millions adding to the union coffers.

There are legitimate drawbacks to blanket amnesty. Unfortunately, anyone who disagrees with the open border policy risks being labeled a racist, bigot or supremacist.

With an increase of millions more seeking assistance, the schools, hospitals, housing and social services would be in worse shape than they are now.

President Barack Obama is planning to address the country's immigration system this year and is seeking a path for illegal immigrants to become legal.

He knows this to be an emotionally-charged and controversial issue. It is hoped that as this nation's leader, President Obama will show sufficient care and logic to consider the needs of the present citizens first and foremost — and not be swayed by self-serving groups.

Whoa, I don't think Maureen Walthers read the clubhouse memo on this subject... But it's obvious that the NY Times paid attention to it.

Related may develop on top of park

From Crain's:

Hundreds of Upper East Side residents are expected to rally Sunday in an effort to prevent one of the city’s largest developers from turning a popular park into a 40-story residential tower.

Weeks after equipment to take boring samples landed at Ruppert Playground on 92nd Street between Second and Third avenues, protesters will call on the city to negotiate a deal with the Related Cos. that would preserve the approximately 1-acre space as a park.

The Department of Housing Preservation and Development sold the property to Related’s Carnegie Park Associates in 1983 as part of a larger deal that fell under the Ruppert Urban Renewal Project Plan. Under terms of the agreement, Related had to maintain the park for 25 years. That deal expired last June, freeing Related to develop the site. With the recent arrival of drilling equipment in the playground, residents and elected officials are concerned their opportunity to save the park may be waning.

Poor planning leads to school seat shortage

From the Daily News:

Hundreds of incoming kindergartners are languishing on waiting lists citywide, casualties of a tanking economy, shifting demographics and a shortage of seats.

"I think it speaks to incredible negligence on part of the Education Department," said Ben Allison, whose daughter was waitlisted at Public School 3 and 41 in Greenwich Village.

"It's basic urban planning," he said. "Services have to be tied to the population."

We don't practice basic urban planning in this city, Ben. Amanda Burden and company would rather rezone neighborhoods to allow millions of units of condos but not require developers to include simple necessities like elementary schools. For that, we spend hundreds of millions of tax dollars to buy, remediate and construct on contaminated sites.

Flushing Airport a de facto nature preserve

From the NY Times:

A homeless man named Marty who said he grew up in College Point and twice flew out of the airport in his youth watched the geese swoop past and rattled off a list of birds he has seen there: hawks, kingfishers, an eagle and even an albino pheasant.

“The brackish water is a big part of this, to have such a variety of life,” he said, standing next to a large hole in the chain-link fence that surrounds the property.

Nature has thrived on the site since the airport’s closing. Proposals have been floated to use it for a heliport, a warehouse, batting cages, driving ranges, even a blimp port, echoing the site’s use as a docking station for Goodyear blimps in the 1960s and ’70s. None of the ideas amounted to anything, and the property remained closed. But this could change.

In the opinion of Marty, who has cultivated an interest in bird-watching, any reuse of the site, even as a park, would be troublesome. “I’m not worried about the cost; I’m worried about the animals,” he said. Then, glancing quickly skyward, he added: “Look, look, look! There goes a crane over there! They eat frogs, rats.”

Scarano sues DOB

From The Real Deal:

Controversial architect Robert Scarano is fighting back against the city Department of Buildings' attempt to block him from filing building plans, a move the designer said could ruin his business, court papers said. Scarano asked a Manhattan State Supreme Court judge to rule as unconstitutional a 2007 city construction statute that can be used to bar an architect from filing for permits, as well as halt the administrative proceeding against him that is trying to do just that, according to a lawsuit he filed against the building's department April 17.

We're just gluttons for punishment

From the Daily News:

Bloomberg proposed raising the city's 8.375% sales tax by another quarter-point back in January, raising $900 million a year. No one squawked much.

Now, insiders say, the Council may be tempted to do a half-point increase instead - bringing New York's sales tax up to almost 9%.

It's an ugly number in an election year - especially when the subway fare is also going up, Albany is dithering over a payroll tax and extra cab surcharges to finance the MTA, and water bills are shooting up another 14% in July.

But the same mayor and Council members who voted to extend term limits may not fear any backlash from a 9% sales tax, either. For all the dismal economic news out there, it's tough to detect any sentiment in New York for throwing the bums out.

"It's a God-given right of New Yorkers to gripe about weather, taxes and traffic," said political consultant William Cunningham. "I don't see the pitchfork rebellion taking place."

Part of Queens Blvd named after Manton

From NY1:

Officials held a street renaming ceremony Saturday in Sunnyside to remember the life and public service of former Congressman Thomas J. Manton.

Now we know why they spent all that money to fix up the arch...

Fire and ambulance cuts keep on coming

From the Times Newsweekly:

Engine Co. 271, located at 392 Himrod St. on the Ridgewood/Bushwick border in Brooklyn, along with Engine Co. 206 at 1201 Grand St. in East Williamsburg and Engine Co. 293 at 89-40 87th St. in Woodhaven are among 14 FDNY units that would be eliminated as of July 1 under the plan created due to budget cutbacks.

This follows a plan enacted in January in which Engine Co. 271 and three other units across the city were ordered closed during overnight hours between 6 p.m. and 9 a.m. when firefighters scheduled for that shift are needed to fill absences in other companies.

Emergency medical services (EMS) units will also be scaled back under the cost-cutting plan. Three ambulance tours will reportedly be eliminated from five EMS battalions, and conditions cars will also be scaled back from seven other battalions.

Cutbacks will also affect the FDNY marshals, who are assigned to investigate fires and conduct fire code enforcement. One supervisor position and four fire marshals will be eliminated from each borough command.

Even if the proposed round of cuts are enacted, more are on the way come January 2010, according to the plan. Six additional FDNY units—including Engine Co. 217 at 940 DeKalb Ave. in Bushwick — are slated to be closed in that round of cutbacks on New Year's Day.

Three additional ambulance tours in five other battalion commands will also be eliminated, and various bureaus within the department — including the Probationary Firefighters School at the Fire Academy — will be suspended and its personnel will be reassigned to field units.

But we have $400M to buy property for a developer at Willets Point...

Union Crap (w/o Gary Puckett)

"Now that's a crap sandwich!" - K.W.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

It's official. Prep has the swine flu.

Swine Flu Confirmed at St. Francis Prep

( AP) - Mayor Bloomberg says that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed that students at St. Francis Prep were infected with swine flu.

New York officials previously had said they were eight "probable" cases, but tests later confirmed that it was indeed swine flu.

Bloomberg stressed that the cases were mild and many are recovering.

The city is awaiting the tests of additional samples to see if more St. Francis Preparatory School students were infected.

About 100 students complained of flu-like symptoms at the school.

Some students went to Cancun on a spring break trip two weeks ago.

Woman's death is Con Ed's fault

From the NY Post:

Con Edison workers did not evacuate the Queens block where a mother of three was killed by a gas-leak explosion despite reading sky-high levels of gas under the street, officials said yesterday.

Yesterday, utility crews discovered a two-inch hole in the gas main just outside the Floral Park home of Ghanwatti Boodram, who died in the explosion.

...the hole in the pipe was likely the cause of the gas smell that a neighbor called to report at 3:34 p.m.

A Con Ed worker responded about 40 minutes later and found low gas levels. But when they starting testing a manhole nearby, they found that the air was more than 80 percent gas -- an extremely volatile mixture.

The worker called in an emergency at 4:15 p.m. and continued to take readings, but no one was evacuated.

Additional crews pulled up 35 minutes later, just as Boodram's house burst into flames.

Daily News on Aqueduct: Build more housing!

From a Daily News editorial:

The season ends today at Aqueduct, and with the finish of the ninth race should come the closure of the Queens horse track.

The place is a moribund vestige of a bygone era. It's time for New York to take it off life support and convert the enormous, underutilized real estate into a productive asset for the borough and city.

Desperate both for revenue and to prop up the racing industry, Albany has embarked again on a scheme to breathe life into Aqueduct by introducing computerized slot machines.

In doing so, Gov. Paterson and the Legislature are on a fool's errand that would deprive New York of a fantastic site for developing affordable housing, schools, recreation areas or other much needed projects.

Aqueduct's 210 acres, served by superb transportation, are roughly equal to the combined size of the city's top six development sites: Queens West (75 acres), Willets Point (60 acres), the West Side railyards (26 acres), Atlantic Yards (21 acres), Columbia University's Manhattanville campus (17 acres) and the World Trade Center (16 acres).

Yes. Queens DEFINITELY needs more large scale development! Especially since all of the above named projects are hitting major snags. (That's sarcasm, folks.) P.S. Where is the "superb transportation?" The A train sucks and many times runs in shuttles.

Note to Daily News: NYRA is already selling off a lot of its property. Why doesn't the City buy it and build what it wants to on it?