Sunday, May 31, 2009

Crowley & Markey helping lawyers get rich

So I saw this in the paper today and I couldn't help but chuckle. These two seem to have craftily come up with an issue that can't be argued against. Well, hold on.

Let me explain what is really going on here.

The bill introduced by Assemblywoman Marge Markey, A02596, would extend the statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse claims by five years. Currently, it allows for someone to sue up until the age of 23. This bill would extend the filing time to age to 28. It also would eliminate the statute of limitations all together for one year and allow suits dismissed for exceeding the statute of limitations to proceed.

What the press won't tell you is that the bill only applies to private institutions, like the church, boy scouts, etc. It does not apply to government-run programs or schools. As the Catholic paper, The Tablet, explains: the New York State Catholic Conference has pointed out, it “does absolutely nothing to protect a single child in New York State from sexual abuse. Instead it is designed to enrich trial lawyers by targeting private institutions…”

The conference further stated, “It is unfair and bad public policy when governments exempt themselves from lawsuits of a kind that can bankrupt their private counterparts when engaged in exactly the same behavior.”

Studies have shown that public schools are the most frequent sites of sexual abuse outside the home and yet Markey’s bill would exempt them.

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio in his Tablet column of July 5 explained that “…the (Markey) bill seems to distinguish between private and public institutions. This provision seems to strike at the heart of equity. Why then does Markey’s legislation allow for civil suits going back decades against the church but not include the necessary statutory amendments to permit victims in public schools” to file similar claims?

Now, it's well known that Statute of limitations laws are different when bringing claims against the government. Government agencies cannot be sued unless you file an administrative claim within the first 60 days after the injury. Typically, the government will deny your claim, and will inform you of the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit. Nothing in this bill will change that.

Why doesn't the Post examine the meat of the proposed bill (and its insufficiencies) instead of what went on at a meeting at the bishop's house?

Bottom line is that Markey and Crowley do what their contributors tell them to do. If these "good Catholics" have to unfairly target the very church they claim to be so dedicated to in order to help out their trial attorney donors, then so be it.

Can you name a cause that Markey has so vociferously championed in the past? Of course you can't. She is scared she will have an opponent again next year and thinks this issue is a slam dunk because we are all stupid. Advise her otherwise.

Demolished LI mansion to be recycled

From the NY Post:

Concrete rubble from the famed designer's Southampton manse Dragon's Head, which is being torn down, will be recycled and used to pave the village's roads, officials said yesterday.

A demolition crew began reducing the mansion to a mammoth pile of rocks this week to make way for the designer's sleek replacement.

Southampton Village Building Department officials estimated the cost of the demolition at $150,000 and said much of the gargantuan estate will be turned into crushed concrete for an upcoming roadwork project and shredded wood for mulch.

How not to deal with a constituent

So the story behind this is that an Astoria guy and his mother went to State Senator George Onorato's office and tried to make an appointment with him to discuss gay marriage (they being for it). When they got there, they were told that he would not meet with them at his District Office about the issue but perhaps would in Albany.

No matter how you feel about this particular issue, you have to agree that the Senator's office staff needs some training in public relations.

New bill to regulate cell towers

From the Times Ledger:

City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D−Astoria) is calling on the city to allow for greater regulation of cell phone antennas in residential communities as well as giving borough residents more input before a tower is placed in their neighborhood.

His newest bill, proposed earlier this month, would require cell phone companies to alert a community and its elected officials when a new tower would be installed, provide the community board and Council member with written notice before applying to the city’s Department of Buildings for an installation permit and prove that the company had made an effort to install antennas in non−residential areas.

In addition, Vallone’s bill would require each antenna to have an identification number to enable residents to refer to potential concerns related to the equipment.

More Queens fire companies to close

From CBS 2:

The Firefighters Union took out a full page ad Wednesday warning people about potential cuts in their neighborhood, but the FDNY said the ad went too far.

The ad named neighborhoods the union said fit the city's criteria as one of the 12 firehouses that might close.

"The fire commissioner and the mayor said they now intend to close 12 firehouses after the election in November. Our ad campaign is to tell the neighborhoods around the city of New York that they could be in that list," said Firefighters Union President Steve Cassidy.

Some of the neighborhoods that could lose fire companies are Woodside, Queens, Harlem or Long Island City.

Bottle bill driving everyone crazy

From the NY Times:

A good new deposit bill could encourage recycling of new classes of beverage bottles and also provide financing for curbside programs that capture other kinds of recyclable waste, like juice cartons, ketchup bottles and mayonnaise jars. These are all made from the same plastic and glass as soda, beer and water bottles, yet fewer than one in five of them are being recycled. Since such containers are not subject to deposit laws, their recycling is driven only by moral imperative or local ordinances, and these incentives function best when supported by robust curbside recycling programs or other easy recycling options.

Unfortunately, the New York Legislature passed a bottle law last month that not only fails to accomplish these goals but will actually harm the recycling programs New York has. It is an ugly sausage that was cooked up by lobbyists for makers of sugared drinks and their allies in the Legislature. Instead of requiring deposits for all the new beverage categories, as Gov. David Paterson originally proposed, New York’s new bottle law covers bottled water only — unless that water contains added sugar.

That’s not a misprint. The Legislature, which began the year promising to lead national efforts against obesity and diabetes, exempted from the deposit law all noncarbonated beverages that contain added sugar. That means consumers are expected to pay more for zero-calorie choices than they will for sugar-filled options like teas and sports and juice drinks. The markup will encourage millions of New Yorkers, and especially price-sensitive populations like the poor and children, to consume sugar-spiked beverages instead of water.

How about exempting NYC from this altogether since we already have mandatory recycling of most plastics, which in turn makes money for the City? Let's be honest: If you actually do bring your bottles back for the deposit, you usually have to stand in line behind a bum that monopolizes the smelly machine for a 1/2 hour until it's too full for you to use... the same bum that probably trespassed on your property hours earlier to rifle through your trash looking for bottles and cans to redeem. (And the NYPD will tell you that the "bum looking for recyclables" is now a ruse used by burglars.) Ramp up the sanitation/recycling enforcement and put an end to the madness once and for all.

Watch the yellow line

From the NY Post:

The MTA botched its inspections of the yellow strips that run along the edges of subway platforms -- placing straphangers at risk of falling onto the tracks, the agency's Inspector General Barry Kluger warned yesterday.

The investigation revealed visibly deteriorating yellow bars -- called rubbing boards -- at 23 of 27 stations last year that MTA workers classified as being safe, he said in a scathing, 17-page report.

Also, the agency is so backlogged on fixing the defective boards that the deadline for completing 59 percent of the work was pushed back from August 2008 to December 2009, the report said. "This is a safety concern," Kluger said. "While it appears that [New York City Transit] has a program to keep the boards in good repair, the program they had in place just simply is not working."

NYCT officials didn't dispute most of the report, Kluger said.

Ay, gevalt, too...

This came from Urbanite. And I couldn't agree more.

Coast is clear for Gennaro

From the Times Ledger:

Candidates have been dropping like flies in the race for the City Council’s 24th District seat, and it appears City Councilman James Gennaro (D−Fresh Meadows) will have no challengers in his bid for re−election this year.

Out of the three candidates who said they were going to run for the seat, two have confirmed they will not run against the two−term incumbent.

Gennaro, 52, voted against the term limits extension last fall, but he said he decided to run for a third time to continue his focus on environmental and economic issues in the district, which covers the communities of Fresh Meadows, Kew Gardens Hills, Briarwood, Electchester, Hillcrest and Jamaica Estates.

And here I thought it was to keep your name recognizable for when you run against Padavan again...

I wonder why it went out of business?

"It might take a 'low' sense of humor to laugh at this one but... I stopped to take (bad) picture (bc shooting into Memorial Day sun).

Jamaica Avenue, oh my!!" - WWIB

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Bloomberg is no Obama

From The Nation:

During the presidential election, it seemed as if New York, more than any other place, embodied the spirit of Obama. "Obamaism" was its own kind of religion here, New York's Kurt Andersen wrote. So it's a little sad how, just a few months later, we're witnessing a decline in democracy right in our own backyard.

Oh Boy! It's a Bridge Party!

From Time Out New York:

Sunday, May 31
Centennial Ceremonial Parade
9am. Queensboro Bridge.

Scott Stringer and Helen M. Marshall, Manhattan and Queens borough presidents, respectively, will be joined by other dignitaries, vintage cars, drum and trumpet corps and marching bands to kick off the centennial shindig mid-span on the bridge. You can catch the celebration from Queens, Manhattan or Roosevelt Island (but not on the bridge itself); listen for the celebratory sounds and look for the FDNY Fireboat, below, which will mark the occasion with a multi-color salute.

Photo of the Marshalls from New York Social Diary

"Wild Man of 96th Street" escapes Creedmoor

From the Daily News:

Police said Larry Hogue, a drug-addicted wacko who terrorized upper West Siders in the 1990s, walked away from the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in Queens Thursday, police said Friday.

He was spotted around dusk last night on West End Ave.

Before being put away, Hogue, now 65, mugged an entire neighborhood around W. 96th St. for years.

He set fires under cars, heaved rocks through stained glass church windows, masturbated in front of kids, stalked seniors and threatened children with nail-studded clubs.

Cops would arrest him and take him to the psychiatric ward where he would be cut off from his crack supply. After a few weeks his demons would disappear and he'd be back on W. 96th St. again. Hogue became a symbol of a blundering mental-health system.

He wound up in jail for a year after he slugged a 16-year-old girl and pushed her in front of a Con Ed truck. She was unharmed but angry bystanders grabbed Hogue and held him for cops.

Eventually, he wound up in Creedmoor.

Police described Hogue, who's 5-foot-10, 265 pounds and bipolar, as "extremely violent" and dangerous.

"He's crazy, but apparently wily enough to get past the folks at Creedmoor," a police source said.

Ah, but rest easy, NY, the Wild Man has been caged again.

Toxic substance found in Little Neck

From Fox 5:

Someone left a dangerous substance on the streets in Little Neck, Queens, and it may cost a dog his leg -- or even life. The toxic substance that turned up in the neighborhood posed a clear threat to residents and their pets.

Parking officers act like they're above the law

From the Daily News:

Parking enforcement agents are parking their own cars at meters all day long in Westchester Square without paying.

Instead, they put a folded field inspection form on the dashboard to identify their vehicles to their fellow agents, who ignore the expired parking meters.

"It's a theft of city services," said a frustrated John Bonizio, president of the Association of the Merchants & Business Professionals of Westchester Square. "They believe they're above the law and do not have to comply with the requirements of every other privately owned vehicle in the city of New York."

He and other merchants have complained for years about loss of business because of overzealous parking enforcement agents - and more lately, government agencies hogging the meters.

On a recent day, Bronx Boro News found eight private vehicles parked at expired meters on St. Raymond's Ave. in Westchester Square with the folded field inspection forms on the dashboard.

Developer ULURP fees to go up

From The Real Deal:

The city's Department of City Planning is proposing charging a steep increase in filing fees that would add nearly $200,000 to an application for some of the largest projects filed in the five boroughs, documents show.

The base fees for projects 2.5 million square feet or greater that require both land use and environmental reviews would rise by $183,275, or 62 percent, to at least $474,225, according to figures from the Department of City Planning calendar published Friday.

The hikes are part of wider increases in the city's vetting processes that are used to manage development. The jumps in the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, or ULURP, and the City Environmental Quality Review, were first proposed by the Department of City Planning at the City Planning Commission May 4 meeting and are scheduled to be discussed at a public hearing June 17. The rules could be implemented as early as August following a vote by the commission, an agency spokesperson said.

Burden wants Sunnyside Gardens to be destroyed

From HDC:

Part of the reason that Sunnyside Gardens residents worked so hard to become a designated historic district was because the strong protections granted by the Planned Community (PC) zoning law were not being enforced by the Department of Buildings. The LPC seemed the perfect agency to enforce the PC zoning, which was intended to protect the scale and historic open spaces of the neighborhood. However, now the Department of City Planning has proposed a revised zoning that emasculates the PC zoning and the LPC has not begun to address district-specific regulations that might continue the protections City Planning proposes to remove. Really. The current PC zoning disallows driveways, curb cuts, paving front yards, fences and barriers in common gardens or across common walkways, building enlargements or additions, garages or carports, sheds, porches, decks and tree removal. See this fact sheet for details. The current rezoning proposal allows all these things [except curb cuts] as-of-right (see the proposal for details), relying on the LPC’s existing rules, regulations and standard practices to guide development within the planned community.

At this point, the City Planning Commission has passed the proposal and it is up to the City Council to deny it. Unfortunately, the local Council member Eric Gioia, who was in favor of the landmark designation, has not pledged his full support in defeating this damaging zoning change. Especially since CM Gioia has announced he is running for citywide office as a candidate for Public Advocate, this is an instance where every voice counts and every voice will be heard. The City Council will be deliberating on this plan at City Hall on Tuesday.

Foreclosures a bargain

From CNN:

For Victor Guevares, winning a bid at a raucous foreclosure auction two months ago was just the first step toward achieving his dream of home ownership. And after getting through several obstacles along the way, he finally moved his family into the two-story, three-bedroom house in Queens.

The auction process isn't as easy as it looks, Guevares said.

"If you're going to an auction, do your research," he told CNN.

CNN first met the Guevares family in March when he grabbed a home once worth $527,000 for less than half that price.

Guevares had won an auction at's foreclosure sale in New York. Banks and other lenders were unloading foreclosed houses, and many were selling at 50 percent to 60 percent below their highest values.

This is what we're spending federal money on

From the Daily News:

It just got a little easier to bike, sightsee and eat your way through Queens.

The city published a biking map last week dubbed "Queens Around the World," with several routes that allow cyclists to soak in notable sites and local cuisine.

City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden called it an ultimate insider's guide.

"The rich diversity of our neighborhoods make the city different from other cities in the world," Burden said. "This gives people destinations and shows them how to get there."

Funded by federal grant dollars, the map is part of a larger campaign to get more New Yorkers to use bicycles as a means of transportation. Burden said plans for a Bronx map are in the works and hopes to create similar ones for the other boroughs.

The Queens map includes four routes with highlights from nine different neighborhoods in the borough.

Let's see... biking, restaurants, soaking in vibrant diversity...we know who this is geared toward. I am offended that tax money went into producing this garbage. Air quality is not going to improve because a yupster pedals his ass from LIC to Corona for empanadas instead of taking the train. How about getting the trucks off Grand Avenue so I don't choke on diesel fumes when I go to the supermarket? DOT already got federal money for that but hasn't done squat with it.

Lots of unfinished crap in the Rockaways

From NY1:

Vacant homes, broken windows, and houses in disrepair -- a snapshot that captures parts of Far Rockaway. It's a far cry from what Susan Anderson was expecting to see when she bought her beach bungalow in 2004.

"The fact that some of them are falling into disrepair, the redevelopment, broken glass and not necessarily being maintained is problematic," said Anderson.

After years of neglect, many thought redevelopment would make the area very desirable. But some developers have now abandoned their projects.

"Sell it, flip it, get out and somebody else eats it. That's happened too much out here," said Anderson.

Lobbyist money skews the debate


A torrent of massive campaign contributions by corporate and industry interests is blocking five key bills in Albany that, if enacted, would have consumers cheering, an advocacy group charged yesterday.

In a report titled "New Yorkers Pay When Big Money Plays," Citizen Action of New York argued that rivers of campaign cash are unfairly skewing the debate on a range of issues.

"The current campaign-finance system gives too much control over how public policy is made in this state to big-money campaign contributors," said Jessica Wisneski, the organization's legislative director.

Bollywood strike closes Eagle Theater

NEW YORK - (AP) -- A film industry strike in India is having an effect half a world away. A New York City movie theater has temporarily closed because of the Bollywood crisis.

The Eagle Theater in Jackson Heights, Queens, specializes in first-run Bollywood movies.

In Mumbai, a seven-week-old strike by film producers over profits has brought India's film industry to a stop.

The 500-seat Eagle is in an ethnically Indian neighborhood. It is expected to reopen as soon as the strike in India ends.

Photo from butch stroll on Flickr

Schumer and Bloomberg disrespect the flag

Dear Senator Schumer and Mayor Bloomberg,

You should be ashamed of your callous attitude and utter disrespect toward the flag of the United States of America during your marching in the College Point Memorial Day Parade on May 24, 2009. If you can't see the pictures, you are holding the flag pointed downward, almost scraping on the ground. This was not a singular moment, but a repeated act as you marched and waved with your other hand (Bloomberg) or used a bullhorn (Schumer).

The College Point Memorial Day Parade was not about you......... For once can't you just "get it"....... on a day like this....... its about those who can't march.... who didn't come home.....who died for us....... so that now, we march in THEIR honor........ not our own glory. Is it asking too much to hold the flag properly? At the absolute very least, you owe those who died, that much. Where's your apology?

- Charlie from College Point

Friday, May 29, 2009

State Senator Kevin Parker indicted

From WCBS880:

Prosecutors say a state senator has been indicted on assault and other charges after being accused of attacking a New York Post photographer who took his picture.

A Brooklyn grand jury handed up the indictment Friday against Democratic Sen. Kevin Parker. He faces up to seven years in prison if convicted of the assault, criminal mischief, menacing and harassment in the Second Degree.

Hiram's way out?

From the Daily News:

Lawyers for embattled state Sen. Hiram Monserrate want a Queens judge to quash his indictment for allegedly beating up a girlfriend because one of the grand jurors was a cop in the precinct that investigated him.

An officer in Jamaica's 105th Precinct who testified before the grand jury told Monserrate's lawyers he recognized one of his colleagues sitting in the jury box.

The officer, identified only as "Reefer," warned prosecutors about the potential conflict, but was "told not to worry about it," one of Monserrate's private investigators said in a sworn affidavit.

Last time a felony indictment against a Queens pol was challenged, it was dismissed by a judge and the DA accepted a plea deal and never refiled. Is this deja vu?

Don't drink and drive

by Lakisha Bostick; Eyewitness News

MASPETH (WABC) -- Three men were killed when a car careened into a concrete barrier in the Maspeth section of Queens.

The driver of the vehicle apparently lost control westbound on Laurel Hill Boulevard at around 10:30 p.m. last night.

The 1993 Volvo, which witnesses said was traveling at a high rate of speed, careened into a concrete barrier.

Eyewitness News is told the 26-year-old driver and his two passengers -- both 27-year-old men -- were all rushed to Elmhurst Hospital, where they were pronounced dead.

The cause of the crash is under investigation, but investigators said alcohol may have been a factor.

Bloomberg in Astoria

Notice how he's coming to tell you what his vision is for NYC, but has no intention of listening to yours...

Maybe you should tell him anyway.

Zoning does not = city planning

From the Gotham Gazette:

Amanda Burden, chairperson of the New York City Planning Commission, boasts that since 2002, the city has completed a record 94 rezonings, creating the most sweeping revision of land use regulations throughout the city's five boroughs since the Zoning Resolution was rewritten in 1961. This massive rezoning effort supports the development priorities of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who in 2007 introduced PlaNYC2030, a long-term plan to incorporate almost 1 million more residents by the year 2030.

The city's rezoning frenzy, though, highlights two fundamental problems with its approach to our neighborhoods. One is that the zoning is not based on any comprehensive review of community needs and priorities or any long-range planning. In other words, it's zoning without a plan.

The second and related problem is that, while the rezonings mainly create short-term opportunities for real estate development in neighborhoods where there is intense speculation, the city's planners falsely promote them as being aimed at preservation. In the endless succession of community meetings that go into the rezonings, the city's experts offer colorful slide presentations and discourses on technical details in an effort -- often successful -- to obscure matters. In fact, though, these rezonings are scams.

Katz's conflicts-of-interest

From the NY Observer:

On Wednesday, May 13, Melinda Katz strode into the second floor of the National Arts Club on Gramercy Park South, where a suited crowd of mostly white, male real estate people sat expectantly. It was a luncheon for the Associated Builders and Owners of Greater New York. She was the guest speaker.

Ms. Katz moved easily in this crowd, shaking hands, touching arms, assuming the swagger and bravado peculiar to the real estate set. At times, she seemed much like a beloved younger sister bantering with older brothers.

As chair of the land-use committee, Ms. Katz has become a major player in the real estate community. She has presided, with relatively little controversy, over enormously important land-use decisions, ranging from the redevelopment of Willets Point to the rezoning of 125th Street in Harlem.

But she has done so with a marked disregard for appearances. A swift glance at her campaign finance records reveals contributions from pretty much every single major player in the New York real estate scene, including many with business before her committee: the Rudins, the Toll Brothers and the Walentases, to name a very few.

Politicians and the press

From True News from

Did you know that over the last couple of years a battle has raged between the PR people and the press to see who would control the news? You didn’t. Well, neither did most of the journalists. That’s why the PR people won.

How did this happen?

What our politicians grasped that as long as the people gets their daily dose of sports, comics, and celebrities, they would be unfazed if the rest of the news shifted subtly over time from reportage to propaganda. That’s why, rather than killing their old nemesis, the politicians were happy to let the media chug on under their influence. Just ask Mayor Bloomberg how helpful the press can be. As long as the media doesn’t ask any unpleasant questions, they can repeat press releases word for word as if they were legitimate stories, lionize our leaders, and discredit dissenting voices.

PR people have always viewed the press as free advertising – better than free, really, because the people who subscribe to the press don’t even know they’re being sold a product. Once upon a time, reporters fought back against PR people to protect the integrity of their papers. Nowadays, reporters are grateful to publicists for relieving them of the time-consuming work of actual investigation.

But no one is more happy than our politicians. As long as they can keep spinning worthless yarn into PR gold, their lies and incompetence will never be unraveled.

NYPD's crime numbers real or phony?

From Gothamist:

Though there's been a surge in assaults in some downtown neighborhoods like Greenwich Village, the NYPD says New York's fifteen year decline in crime continues unabated, with an overall drop of 12% so far this year. But some New Yorkers, like Harlem's Kone Mahamadou, tell a different story: "If you walk these streets, especially at night, you know crime is definitely not down. It's not safe. I don't know where they get these statistics." Some say the NYPD's stats are skewed because officers have been known to discourage crime victims from filling out police reports...

Aqueduct land sale cause of concern

From the Daily News:

It sounds like a developer's dream: 325,000 square feet of vacant residential land near major highways in Queens is up for sale.

But people who have lived near the Aqueduct Racetrack are worried that the open space, which will go on the auction block June 10, will be replaced with rows of new housing - putting more stress on the local infrastructure in Ozone Park.

"It's the fear of the unknown," said state Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach). "You are talking about people who have lived there for decades."

New homes could worsen flooding problems, he said. It's unclear whether there's enough power to supply new residences.

Photo from Times Ledger

Parents can't resist Mr. Softee

The caption for this photo in the Daily News reads: 7-year-old Lindsey Tourgeman enjoys a vanilla cone from a local soft serve ice cream truck, under the disapproving eye of her mother, Melissa, in Brooklyn.

Now when I saw this initially, I thought that maybe the kid was stealing the mother's money to buy ice cream or that grandma/grandpa was slipping her an Abe Lincoln now and then. But then I read the article and became astounded.

“It’s very frustrating that they’re here every day,” said Carroll Gardens mom Meryl Allison, who picks up her son Ben at Public School 58 and has to take him past a Mister Softee truck to go to Carroll Park across the street. “You’re a trapped audience. It’s hard to say no to your kids.”

Wha? A NYC mama not able to say no? I do not recall my mother having similar issues when I was a kid. In fact, she said no more times than I remember her saying yes. And what I wanted must not have been all that important because all these years later, I can't remember anything I had asked her to get for me in the first place.

“I’ve had fights with my daughter in the past about it. You kind of feel like it’s pushed on you,” said Tourgeman, who said she lets her 7-year-old daughter Lindsey get a cone about twice a month.

“It’s one thing if they’re just in the neighborhood, but to be here by contract [with the city], they might as well be selling drugs.”

Honestly...just say "no" and stop whining to the papers.

Expensive new park will be difficult to maintain

From AM-NY:

The $170 million construction cost for the park has been taken of, with the city putting up $98 million, the federal government committing $22 million and the Friends of the High Line and others footing the rest of the bill.

However, the city will have to come up with 30 percent of the park’s annual $2 million to $3 million operating budget. And the Friends, which will oversee the 6.7-acre open space, is responsible for the remaining portion.

Hammond would not specify how much his group has already raised but said that they are aggressively working to secure next year’s budget through membership dues and other donations.

If the similarly membership-based Central Park Conservancy is any indication, the Friends could face a drop off in fundraising in 2010 because of the economy.

NYPD photography rules - print and save

This public service brought to you courtesy of Forgotten-NY and Queens Crap.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

5-year old girl shot in Astoria

ASTORIA (WABC) -- A 5-year-old girl and a 23-year-old man were shot in Astoria, Queens Thursday.

The girl was grazed in the ear with a bullet, while the man was shot in the leg. They were taken to separate hospitals with non-life threatening injuries.

The shooting happened at 4-24 Astoria Boulevard just after 4:30 p.m.

No arrests have been made, and police are unsure of the motive for the incident.

The latest swine flu update

From ABC 7:

Health Commissioner Thomas R. Frieden and Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein today announced that the City Health Department has recommended closing six more schools - four in East Harlem, and two in Brooklyn - after documenting unusually high levels of influenza-like illness over a number of days. The six schools will be closed as of Friday, May 29, and will reopen on Wednesday, June 3.

And from the Daily News:

Parents rallied at a Queens elementary school Thursday to demand the city close and sanitize the building after scores of students - and the school nurse - called in sick.

"These are four and five-year-olds coming down with 102-degree fevers and infecting their siblings," said Monica Hendricks, 46, one of 15 parents protesting outside Public School 96 in South Ozone Park.

"There is no logical explanation why our school is not closed."

Parents said more than 80 of the school's approximately 300 students were out sick - along with several teachers and the school nurse.

City health officials said the threat of swine flu could be overblown.

Breaking News: Bloomie does it again!

From the NY Times:

To the growing list of questions that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg does not want to be asked, you can add one more.

At a press conference in Queens on Thursday, Mr. Bloomberg was asked if an economic turnaround would undermine his initial reasoning for rewriting the city’s term limits law and seeking a third term, which was that a city in financial turmoil needed his steady hand and business background.

Mr. Bloomberg interrupted the question, from the New York Observer reporter Azi Paybarah, having deemed it unworthy of his time...

With that, the mayor concluded his press conference, looked directly at Mr. Paybarah and said, “You are a disgrace.”

The Daily News' Liz Benjamin has a great zinger...

Ironically, Bloomberg once used that very word to describe...the City Council's effort to change term limits.

Actually, he said that was an "absolute disgrace." But why quibble?

In this version, he uses "disgraceful." But again, why quibble?

Bloomberg pisses off reporter

From The Politicker:

Here's video of an incident at a May 26 campaign event, which was noted by the New York Times, in which a television reporter learns that when Michael Bloomberg is not scheduled to take questions, he won’t take questions. Note the deft boxing-out by the mayor's security detail and City Hall spokesman Stu Loeser.

Bloomberg often holds public events without taking questions, leaving the task of dealing with reporters to his press aides. Given the state of things, it's probably safe to assume that he'll continue to communicate with the media at his leisure. Whatever we may think of it.

That's because you keep giving him a pass...

Bloomberg begins Willets Point land grab

From the Iron Triangle Tracker:

The city will formally kick-off plans to seize control of the remaining privately-owned land at Willets Point this June, officials at the Economic Development Corp. said Wednesday.

The EDC said a public hearing on eminent domain will be held at Flushing Town Hall on June 22, a procedural first step in the legal process through which the city plans to take the remaining 22 acres of land at Willets Point.

Dozens of property owners are yet to reach deals with EDC negotiators however, and the city’s move towards eminent domain indicates that the time to do so outside of a courtroom is drawing to a close.

The vast majority of the City Council said it was opposed to the use of eminent domain, and the EDC said it would not use the controversial practice unless all other options had been exhausted.

Jerry Antonacci, co-owner of Crown Container Co. and President of Willets Point United Against Eminent Domain said...“They’re pretty quick to pull the trigger on eminent domain. But I guess they’re gonna do what they’re gonna do and we’re gonna do what we have to do to stop them.”

So Mayor Bloomberg, Seth Pinsky, Robert Lieber, David Lombino, Chuck Apelian, Claire Shulman, Helen Marshall, Toby Stavisky, Eric Gioia, Hiram Monserrate, Melinda Katz, John Liu, Peter Vallone, Jr., and all the other tweeders lied about what was going to happen at Willets Point. Which comes as a shock to absolutely no one.

The EDC only made 2 property acquisition deals since the November 13, 2008 vote and has been telling Iron Triangle businesses that lie outside of the phase 1 area - which is most of them - to not expect negotiations to start for more than a year. But then they send them an eminent domain notice?

As one astute observer remarked to me, "If there was a gun on the negotiating table before, now it's pointed at the owners' heads."

Thank you all for steamrolling the working people of Queens for your rich developer friends!

Where for art thou, Janette?

From the Staten Island Advance:

Staten Islanders have taken to spelling the word "pothole" with the letter D: Disgraceful, disgusting, deplorable and, lately, downright dangerous.

Ten-year-old Gina Blazewicz of Great Kills was hospitalized for two days with a concussion last month after she tripped in a pothole on Linton Place while playing basketball. She fell backward and hit her head, said her father, Rich, and was spitting up blood after the fall.

And this is just one of the pothole complaints flowing steadily into the Advance since the newspaper started the campaign for smoother roads.

Stacey Hotinski's son also took a tumble after tripping on loose asphalt on Levit Avenue in Graniteville, where new pedestrian ramps were installed over a year ago, but the pavement was left to crumble.

Sal Conti of Eltingville said he's never seen roads so bad in all his 37 years on Staten Island. Neither has his mother-in-law, a former Islander who came for a visit recently from her home in New Jersey, and asked if bombs had been dropped on Staten Island after seeing the poor condition of the streets here.

Look, fixing potholes is hard work and not sexy. How would you folks like a bike lane instead?

Willets Point Headscratcher series, part 7

From the Daily News:

New York City, which repairs about 250,000 potholes a year, inked a deal with Cofire last year and began using Green Patch in October, officials confirmed.

Shapiro noted Cofire won the city contract as low bidder.

Cofire, which has been in business for some 50 years, hopes to build a new plant on its city-owned property in the College Point Corporate Park.

"We are in a great place and we want to stay here," Shapiro said.

The Cofire property is being enlarged as part of a pending rezoning of the corporate park, and Shapiro said the company has been working with the city on the possibility of the company sharing its space with a business relocated from Willets Point.

Why would Cofire have to share land with relocated Willets Point businesses when it isn't even close to any of them, according to the City's own map (pictured, courtesy of Iron Triangle Tracker)?

The City also just purchased the Grace Asphalt plant in Willets Point for continued DOT use. Combined with the highways the triangle is surrounded by, that should make for some great air quality for residents moving into the "new" Willets Point.

How many violations are allowable?

From the Daily News:

Since January 2008, the Buildings Department has issued stop-work orders 12 times at 111 Lawrence St., hitting contractors with 38 claims for unsafe conditions, falling objects and fire hazards.

Eleven violations remain open and contractors on the job face $78,200 in fines, records show.

On Wednesday, the city slapped the latest stop-work order on the planned 51-story building after hardhat Ronald McGovern fell three stories while trying to stabilize a crane's load. He landed in a dumpster and survived with minor injuries.

The city cited crane operator Pinnacle Industries for unsafe use of a crane. The contractor running the job, Bovis Lend Lease, was cited for unsafe conditions.

Perils at the Brooklyn Tower included frightening crane incidents that continued even after subcontractors were cited.

Halliburton eying Flushing Airport site

Dear Concerned Residents of North East Queens -

Here is my recent scientific analysis of what “may” be arriving in a neighborhood
 near you. My sources are confidential and will be kept that way.

My concerns are that behind the scenes in NYC, the highly probable investigation into
 the extraction of Natural Gas in Marsh/Wetland Locations is being analyzed. The value of the Flushing/CP Airport can be used for the extraction of fossil fuel 
natural gas using “Hydraulic Pressure” extraction next to the token 8 acres that were recently proposed to be given
to us by EDC. If you think strip mall development is bad, imagine a natural gas 
company setting up shop at this sensitive location!

Halliburton has its eye on 
all areas of New York City for the "potential future extraction locales". What 
should be happening is the push for the REDUCTION of chemical toxic pollution
 and use of petroleum based products used for asphalt as seen in the NY Daily

Many people are advertising natural gas as a transition fuel, even saying trucks
 may be run on liquid natural gas. Natural gas is anything but “green” (as 
described by Sarah Palin) and it’s anything but the answer to our energy needs and concerns 
for the future. The drilling or extraction for natural gas itself releases poisons and toxins 
into the atmosphere that can build up and cause health concerns. A by-product of
 drilling is the release of methane, and chemicals used in the drilling methodology, which includes 
benzene and other toxic chemicals. The natural gas companies will not reveal
 exactly what toxins it uses during the drilling process and procedure because it considers them “trade 
secrets”. The extraction of natural gas affects the safety of water and in
some areas of the U.S. is reportedly responsible for cancer, mostly leukemia
 (from benzene). Feel free to contact me for scientific references associated with my claims.

Someone needs to tell T. Boone Pickens and every other person
 who feels that natural gas is “clean and natural” that natural gas is not the
 answer to our global warming induced climate crisis.

Here is a story that forced me to send out this e-mail.

The above story has been taken from a SCIENTIFIC journal that illustrates why carbon capture
and sequestration (CCS) might not work in many cases. Storage of a gas means it
 will eventually leak, as the methane in this article did. This article taken from
 Scientific American (November 2008) also enumerates the many problems of
 pollution from drilling for natural gas. Pollution is not the only problem. Natural gas explosions that level buildings 
and homes are not uncommon in the northern U.S. where people obtain their heat 
from natural gas.

All of my comments are based on peer-reviewed scientific literature and not based on any of my personal opinions or a “half-baked hypothesis”.

Dr James M. Cervino
Pace University &
Visiting Scientist
Woods Hole Oceanographic Inst.
Department of Marine Chemistry
Woods Hole, MA

Photo from Washington Post

Queens homeowners drowning!

From the NY Post:

Roughly 40,000 homes purchased in the last five years in New York City are now underwater -- worth less than what is owed on their mortgages -- up sharply over the past year, according to a real estate market information company.

In fact, in Queens, the second-hardest hit of the five boroughs, nearly one in four of the 71,911 one-family, co-op and condo sales made in 2004-2009 is now underwater, according to

The 23.3 percent of recently purchased Queens homes being underwater in the first quarter compares to 15.9 percent one year earlier. It shows that New York's foreclosure pain may be far from over.

Illegal nightclub in Long Beach

From Newsday:

A couple accused of running a nightclub out of the basement of their Long Beach home, peddling drinks and dancing, told authorities they were merely raising funds to send their teen beauty queen daughter to a Central American pageant.

The authorities say Naraine and his wife, Julissa, broke the zoning code, caused a fire hazard and served alcohol without a permit.

City inspectors investigating a noise complaint in a residential neighborhood this month found 30 people in the Naraine home on Riverside Boulevard and 20 people outside, documents show.

"He was charging admission to get in," said Theofan, who accused the couple of running a nightclub. "There was music. There was dancing. There was a DJ."

The city charged the Naraines with zoning and building violations, for which they could be fined.

Hey guy, move the parties to Queens. Not only will the DOB not give a crap, but when neighbors call 311 to report it, the police will just mark the call as "answered" and state that they didn't see anything.

We've only just begun...

From the Daily News:

The biggest misconception about this year's citywide elections is that Mayor Bloomberg has a third term all sewn up.

Don't believe the hype.

Bloomberg has already spent $18.6 million on flacks, hacks, pollsters and preachers. The sum includes more than $15 million spent in the last two months alone on TV, radio and direct mail advertising.

But don't start the coronation just yet. Several key indicators suggest that the race remains close and could get much closer before November.

Start with the surprising fact that Bloomberg's three-month advertising onslaught hasn't moved key poll numbers.

That has set off a buzz among political insiders. A $15 million ad buy is supposed to move the poll numbers, particularly for an eight-year incumbent.

Everybody heard Bloomberg's campaign message - you couldn't avoid those TV ads and glossy color booklets - but the polls suggest New Yorkers aren't buying it.

It's not over. In fact, the race for City Hall has only just begun.

Bloomberg's math hurting middle class

From the Daily News:

Jim Feasel is a retired NYPD detective, an expert in figuring out who did it and why.

But now there’s a problem in his personal life that he can’t solve and he feels handcuffed.

“How did the city’s appraised value of my home go up $75,000 last year... when property values went down 10% or more?” bellowed Feasel, who owns a two-family home in Woodside, Queens.

Along with thousands of other middle-class New Yorkers, Feasel is feeling the big squeeze — what happens when taxes and fees go up while income stays flat and investments and property values fall.

Property taxes are just part of the pinch. Water and sewer charges were hiked 14.5% last July 1 and will go up another 12.9% this July 1. Fares, tolls, utilities and property assessments are all higher.

Tower people upset about idling trains

From Mr. Angry re: a petition by the tower people against idling trains at the Long Island City LIRR station:

This petition is a sure sign of the pussification of NYC. Here we have a bunch of people who MOVED IN NEXT TO AN ACTIVE RAILROAD YARD, whining about the noise and pollution that come from it. Uhm, did you morons NOT see it RIGHT THERE when you closed on your little habit trail apartments? Did you not expect a lot of noise living in the middle of a city, in a glass fishbowl of an apartment building with little if any soundproofing? Did you not do any research on the area you were investing in? It’s pretty hard not to notice a fucking railroad yard that has been at that location for WELL OVER 100 YEARS.

Bloomberg will obliterate Admirals Row

From the Brooklyn Paper:

The city and National Guard reached an agreement to save two decrepit, yet historic, buildings in the Brooklyn Navy Yard and destroy eight others, ending an impasse and allowing the Navy Yard to proceed with its controversial plan to build a supermarket.

The deal, announced by a spokesman for the city-run Navy Yard, does not guarantee the preservation of the low-slung Timber Shed and one of the former officers’ homes, known as Building B, which faces Flushing Avenue. But it allows for the transfer of the federally owned “Admirals Row” area to the city, which owns the rest of the Navy Yard.

As part of the deal, the city would then solicit bids from developers to build a supermarket and an industrial building as well as to “test the market” to rehabilitate and maintain the two crumbling 19th-century structures.

It’s unclear how the historic buildings would be reused. The other eight buildings along the row could be demolished by the city, under this agreement.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Congress threatens mayor's transfer station

From the NY Post:

Congress is moving against Mayor Bloomberg's plan to build a trash transfer station in Queens that critics say would draw a dangerous number of birds to La Guardia Airport.

The transfer station planned for College Point would go up about 2,000 feet from La Guardia Runway 13-31. Federal Aviation Administration guidelines usually require trash transfer stations to be at least 10,000 feet from airport runways.

Despite the guidelines, the FAA last year OK'd the station, saying it poses no hazard to planes.

House members voted Thursday night to apply the FAA's usual guidelines to the station. The measure, tacked onto another FAA-related bill, now heads to the Senate.

Sully's co-pilot doesn't like the idea, either.

Delay in plan to link Penn and Grand Central


The mammoth $7.2 billion project to extend the LIRR from Penn Station to Grand Central Terminal is not on track to make its February 2015 deadline, according to a new MTA consultant report.

Chronic delays with four contracts put the completion date "under pressure," said the firm McKissack and Delcan.

And delays cost money, transit advocates warned yesterday, saying the federal government won't provide any more than the $6.2 billion already approved for the project.

Baby Oystercatchers at Riis Park

From Citybirder:

The beach was nearly empty of people, but there were lots of nesting American Oystercatchers spread out along the sand. I counted at least 9 nests in areas that were roped off and marked with signs to keep out humans. One adult was sitting with two chicks about 5 yards from the boardwalk. American Oystercatcher chicks are precocial, meaning that they are fairly independent as soon as they hatch and fun to observe.

Interesting demographic propositions in comptroller's race

From The Politicker Re: the formation of "Women for Liu":

Yet another test of the interesting demographic propositions in this primary between four Democratic council members: Katz versus three men, Liu versus three white candidates, David Yassky (of Brooklyn) versus three Queens members and David Weprin versus, um, three people who are not members of his family?


Urban planning at its finest - schools

From NY Magazine:

In 2007, the Department of Buildings issued permits for 31,918 units, a 35-year high-water mark. By the most conservative estimate, that year’s activity alone brought hundreds of millions of dollars into the city coffers in closing taxes, much of it from buyers lured by strong public schools. But a disconnect yawned between development and the children it engendered. The crux of it, says Beveridge, is revealed in PlaNYC 2030, the mayor’s blueprint for a livable city of 9 million people—who, it should be noted, will be making lots more kindergartners. The document called for parkland within ten minutes of each New Yorker and a local war on global warming, but spent less than a sentence on the DOE’s capacity needs. “School construction is not part of the plan—full stop,” Beveridge says. “They plan all the other infrastructure, but they don’t worry about the schools.”

Bloomberg had fashioned a city of cranes and baby strollers, but only the cranes fell into his field of sight. “The city booked the revenue,” says Eric Greenleaf, the chair of P.S. 234’s PTA overcrowding committee, “but it didn’t book the cost.”

It was hard to fathom how Klein’s brain trust could have been so Van Winkled to the emergence of family-style Manhattan. The Buildings Department sits around the corner from the DOE’s home at the Tweed Courthouse. Both report directly to Bloomberg, who is nothing if not nimble and decisive. And yet the left hand had no truck with the right—here was mayoral control without the control.

In some of the poorer districts in the outer boroughs, families are left with the worst of all worlds: underperforming zoned schools that have no room. The DOE perennially “caps” the enrollments of dozens of schools in the Bronx and Queens and Brooklyn, busing hundreds of kindergartners out of places like Elmhurst or Norwood.

Wa$te at the MTA

From the NY Post:

The MTA burned through $3.5 million in the past year to increase staffing and hand out raises in its headquarters at the same time it cried poverty and begged for a $2.3 billion state bailout.

Between March 2008 and March 2009, 140 directors, managers and other employees who work in the MTA's main Madison Avenue offices received raises, according to a Post analysis of agency records. Of these bump-ups, 79 came without title changes.

In the same period, the Midtown HQ's headcount surged by 43 staffers to 695, records show.

The new hires included a $75,000-a-year photographer, a $117,000-per-year director of police support and a $134,204-a-year director of workforce development. Also, for $172,000 a year, it brought on a "chief diversity officer" who is supposed to help give contracts to minority-owned businesses. All were newly created positions.

Overall, payroll at headquarters rose 6.7 percent to $55.5 million.

The raises ranged from $1,000 to nearly $40,000 and were doled out to secretaries, project managers, auditors and an in-house counsel. The fattest went to Vinay Dayal, whose income soared a staggering $39,606 to $140,000.