Friday, July 31, 2009

Thompson supporter calls Quinn a whore

From NY1:

At a Wednesday event hosted by Democratic mayoral candidate William Thompson, the owner of the quaint English-style tea shop Tea and Sympathy in Greenwich Village lashed out at City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, while Thompson was there listening.

"She's a whore and you can quote me on that," said Sean Kavanagh-Dowsett. "I'll call her a whore and I'll drop my trousers, and she can kiss my a--."

The remarks which were recorded by Mayor Michael Bloomberg's campaign, stemmed from a discussion about the problems facing small business owners.

In the audio recording, Thompson is not heard denouncing the remarks by Kavanagh-Dowsett.

"It is impossible to control what other people say in a public forum. But he should have said immediately that this was inappropriate," said Samantha Levine of NARAL. "It's misogynistic language that has no place in a political discourse."

Well why would he do that when it's someone's opinion and also happens to be true?

Here's one definition of "whore" - a venal or unscrupulous person.

Sorry Sam, the description fits Ms. Quinn to a tee.

Maybe next time Sean should call her an asshole instead (also true) to avoid upsetting feminist groups.

Unfortunately for you, Bloomie, most of the city hates Christine Quinn and doesn't give a shit about you being offended by free speech.

Bloomberg rejects public authorities reform

From NBC 4:

A bill to overhaul hundreds of state authorities is heading toward Governor Paterson's desk but the question is: why hasn't it reached him yet? The bill passed by sizable majorities in both houses of the Legislature. Reliable sources in Albany say the Mayor has weighed in against the legislation, putting pressure on the Governor to veto the bill. City Hall says the Mayor is indeed against the proposed legislation and for good reasons. The bill would set up an independent budget office with powers over the authorities, including the ability to issue subpoenas to compel witnesses to testify. Authorities would have to turn over their financial records to this budget office.

Oh, the humanity!

Illegal alien boss failed to pay workers comp

From the NY Times:

The owner of a Queens asbestos-removal company has been sentenced to nearly four years in prison for failing to pay $1.6 million in required workers’ compensation premiums by saying that he had just one employee when he often had dozens, prosecutors announced on Tuesday.

Andrew T. Baxter, the interim United States attorney for the Northern District of New York, said the business owner, Chong-mun Chae, a South Korean, would be deported after serving his sentence of 46 months because he was an illegal immigrant.

Prosecutors said that when Mr. Chae applied for workers’ compensation policies, he often falsely claimed that he had just one employee, who worked as a receptionist. As a result, insurance companies charged him far lower rates than if they had known the true number of his employees and the hazardous nature of their work.

Mr. Chae sought to avoid getting caught by repeatedly changing the name of his company, prosecutors said. Its names included Charlie Brown Services, Top Ace Services and K-One Service.

Mr. Chae, 71, pleaded guilty to mail fraud and tax fraud, and was sentenced on Thursday in United States District Court in Binghamton.

State officials said Mr. Chae worked on asbestos-removal projects throughout the state and often used crews of Korean immigrants.

Dilapidation and trepidation in Park Slope

Brownstoner visits 647 Baltic Street in Park Slope:

The building's owner, who, according to neighbors, hasn't been seen for a couple years, has been served with a bunch of violations. One of the more recent ones says the following: "Failure to maintain observed: front brick facade pulling away from side wall with vertical crack app. 20' high with gaps from 3/8" to 1 1/2"." The DOB says they're evaluating their options for the building, which may very well include demolition.

And while we're in Park Slope, a developer who wants to overbuild is going to the BSA claiming a hardship because, as the Daily News puts it:

Verma said the additional buildings are necessary to recoup the money he lost when the discovery of a Con Ed substation buried under the site "just blew the budget out by a huge multiple."

How do you buy property without knowing what's in the ground?

Rivera urges Paterson to stay out of assembly race

From the Daily News:

Assemblyman Peter Rivera (D-Bronx) circulated a letter to downstate Assembly members demanding that Seminerio's replacement in the 38th Assembly District be selected in the November general election.

The Queens Democratic Party wants a partisan special election because it would allow the party to choose its favored candidate. The other option - a primary - would likely lead to a messy, four-way battle.

A special election would rely heavily on the influence of four Democratic district leaders in Seminerio's district - including the disgraced Seminerio himself.

Rivera thinks Paterson should not interfere in the election.

"Let the Democratic process play itself out," Martinez said. "Let the candidates have debates and let the people decide."

Paying the homeless to leave town

From the NY Times:

They are flown to Paris ($6,332), Orlando ($858.40), Johannesburg ($2,550.70), or most frequently, San Juan ($484.20).

They are not executives on business trips or couples on honeymoons. Rather, all are families who have ended up homeless, and all the plane tickets are courtesy of the city of New York (one-way).

The Bloomberg administration, which has struggled with a seemingly intractable problem of homelessness for years, has paid for more than 550 families to leave the city since 2007, as a way of keeping them out of the expensive shelter system, which costs $36,000 a year per family. All it takes is for a relative elsewhere to agree to take the family in.

Many of them are longtime New Yorkers who have come upon hard times, arrive at the shelter’s doorstep and jump at the offer to move at no cost. Others are recent arrivals who are happy to return home after becoming discouraged by the city’s noise, the mazelike subway, the difficult job market or the high cost of housing.

City officials said there were no limits on where a family can be sent, and families can reject the offer and stay in city shelters. So far, families have been sent to 24 states and 5 continents, most often to Puerto Rico, Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas.

Good government group doing Quinn's bidding

From the Gotham Gazette:

Located on the middle floor of a storage facility that's practically on top of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, it's an elusive setting to kick off a run for the city's top office.

When I visited last week, the Prince Street sign teetered on its hinges, the Q train crossing the Manhattan Bridge rumbled in the distance and a likely homeless man marched in the vacant lot next door, dragging a large wooden stick. Just flights up inside, a quote from Mahatma Gandhi hung in one room, a bubble-lettered campaign schedule in the other. Another hand-written poster read: "Viva Avella."

Earlier this month in Williamsburg at the Italian Festa del Giglio, the candidate weaved through the crowds, undaunted by the smell of cannolis and the sausage and peppers sizzling.

While making his way through, Avella turned to his campaign confidant, Phil DePaolo. "You know my crowd," he said with a smile.

"That's why I wanted you to come," DePaolo, president of the New York Community Council, replied.

Just a half hour before, Avella had been attempting (emphasis on attempting) to court the voters of Williamsburg disembarking from the Bedford Avenue subway stop. Note: The young and hipster laden population seemed far more interested in getting to the local watering hole than shaking Avella's hand.

But here on North 7 Street, flooded with Catholic Italians, Avella felt right at home.

If there are any areas that Avella will be able to carry come this fall's primary, it's the ethnic enclaves, said one city political consultant. They won't carry him into the general election, Mercurio says, but Avella might be able to win the votes of New Yorkers who, whether they want to admit it or not, would not vote for a black candidate, like Thompson.

Wow, the Citizens Union is entertaining the suggestion that "ethnic enclaves" won't vote for a black candidate (Besides, did they forget that some of the largest ethnic enclaves in the city are black or Hispanic)? Why would CU infer that Tony Avella only feels comfortable around Italians? Why would Dick Dadey's group allow unchallenged the notion that most of Avella's voters won't make an informed vote for him?

Well, it turns out ol' Dick has got a long history as a gay activist and is Christine Quinn's buddy from way back. Despite now heading a "good government" group, he has never truly criticized Chris (or the mayor) and he never will. He was eerily quiet when she hired an expensive lawyer with taxpayer money during the breaking of the slush fund scandal and didn't exactly respond vociferously when term limits were extended. But when she wants help getting revenge on people she doesn't like, she knows exactly who to call!

Just so you guys know the real story.

Quote: “Citizens Union has been pleased to work over the past couple of years with reform-minded individuals like Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Christine Quinn,” Dadey said.


And check out CU's "recommended community development" page! Ratner's Folly! West Side Stadium! Hooray!

If you can't count on good government groups to look out for your interests, then who can you trust? Looks like only Tony Avella...

The Village Voice wrote something funny:

Some council colleagues call Avella "crazy" because "he is apparently the only one who has returned his parking placard," which is totally nuts; also, "he often acts, they say, as if he is the smartest person in the room," which, if you've looked at the city council, actually seems a reasonable assumption.

The great Rego Park garden giveaway!

Dear Queens Crap,

I like the blog, its one of the few that covers Queens. I was raised in Queens and I've planted a Forest Garden(basically growing a forest where everything is edible) on my old lawn in Rego Park. I'm keeping a record of it on my blog, NYC Forest Garden. Thought you might be interested. I would like to give plants away and seeds as they come from my garden.

All the best,
Casey Tang

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Bloomberg already considering 4th term

From the Daily News:

Asked today whether there's any guarantee he won't try to seek a fourth term if his current bid for a third works out, Mayor Bloomberg didn't exactly rule out the possibility.

The mayor first simply opted for the old "law does not permit it" response. When a reporter noted the law didn't used to permit more than two, four-year terms, either, Bloomberg said:

"But it does now. It permits only three terms, so I don’t know. Talk to your City Council. Let me point out that I had no intention of running for a (third) term up until near the end, as you know."

Hiram's court date is September 14th

From the NY Times:

Rejecting multiple motions to dismiss assault charges against State Senator Hiram Monserrate, a queens judge said the case would go to trial on Sept. 14.

At a brief hearing in State Supreme Court in Queens, the judge revealed his decision, then held a private conference with the lawyers. He made no mention of whether he would allow the prosecution to show a videotape from Mr. Monserrate’s building on the night of the episode, Dec. 19, 2008.

A hell of a hole in East Elmhurst

From NY1:

East Elmhurst building owner Mike Shehadeh was worried about a huge hole by a street drain that grew bigger by the day, and the danger it posed to his Queens neighborhood.

Shehadeh was also concerned for the five little kids who live in his building, right behind the hole. He said the drain had been around for three months and he had called 311 about the hazard at least a dozen times.

After Shehadeh called NY1 For You, the station called the Department of Environmental Protection and a spokesman told NY1 that the agency was aware of the problem and that the catch basin was missing a couple of pieces.

The next day the hole was fixed, much to the resident's delight.

Hey folks, it's an election year!

Is development of the West Side realistic?

From the NY Observer:

The economic crisis, of course, has obliterated any sense of imminence and removed the far West Side’s aura of inevitability as Manhattan’s next great neighborhood, certainly for the next few years.

Yet, amid the rubble, Related is still plodding away on its $15 billion plans for the rail yards, a tremendously complicated project that would be larger than the World Trade Center and that has been dubbed a 21st-century Rockefeller Center. Related is in the midst of the city’s onerous public-review process, and executives now say they expect to sign a development contract in January with the M.T.A., the site’s owner.

This puts Related, one of the city’s largest developers, in an uphill battle to transform an unproven area that the economic crisis has pushed far back to the fringes. Numerous competitors expressed deep skepticism that Related’s commitments are realistic, and the first step would be a platform atop half the rail yards costing around $1 billion, a number that demands tremendous confidence in the project’s future.

How to recycle your crapper the green way

Don't flush your toilet once it's outlived its usefulness. As Miss Heather points out, you can go green.

Think of the environment!

Landlords abandoning buildings

From the Daily News:

The vultures are coming home to roost.

Affordable housing advocates sounded the alarm during the real estate boom, as private equity firms bought up dozens of rent-controlled buildings across the Bronx.

The advocates warned the investment firms would seek to maximize their returns by pushing existing tenants out and jacking up rents.

After the boom went bust, an even worse effect of "predatory equity" came to light: Overleveraged landlords are simply abandoning their buildings altogether.

A good intentioned bad law?

Op-ed by Bob Friedrich of Glen Oaks Village in the Daily News:

If you live in a co-op or condo and are an owner or renter, you'd better be holding on to your wallets, because the City Council is at it again, with a bill that is poised to create financial havoc in the co-op and condominium community.

Intro 967, sponsored by Queens Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows), would require significant spending not from city coffers, but from already-squeezed budgets of co-ops and condos. And which buildings would be most affected? Not Manhattan's high-risers with fancy names and green roofs, but the modest co-ops and condos dotting the neighborhoods of the outer boroughs.

Although Gennaro says he is working on the language to mitigate its effect on co-ops and condos, the only acceptable fix is to eliminate them from the legislation altogether.

Intro 967 would require that all large buildings undergo periodic energy audits. These energy audits are not cheap and if one finds that your building is not energy-efficient and can be modified to save energy, you would have no choice but to do so. Sure, the goals are worthy, but what about cost? If you don't have a few million dollars lying around to replace old windows or boilers in your building, as outlined in your energy audit, the obscure Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability would simply require you to finance the project. These decisions are best made by an elected board of directors that knows its buildings, budgets and shareholders. A board may have other priorities for its shareholders' money such as sidewalks, handicapped ramps, driveways, elevators, roofs, lobby renovations or pointing.

Under Intro 967, these board decisions would be superseded by some city bureaucrat who, of course, does not live in your co-op and would not be paying the assessment or maintenance charges required to fund the project.

Wife burns husband's crotch for cheating on her

From the NY Post:

A Queens nurse allegedly channeled Lorena Bobbitt as she exacted revenge yesterday on her hubby for his infidelity.

The woman, feeling burned over her husband's cheating, woke him up by pouring a "big pot" of scalding water over his genitals, the victim told The Post.

"I was in bed, I was fast asleep . . . She came into the bedroom and poured hot water all over me," Emmanuel "Ojo" Ojofeitimi, 67, said last night from his hospital bed, where he was being treated for second- and third-degree burns over 30 percent of his body.

"I didn't know what had happened. By the time I woke up, the skin was falling off," Ojofeitimi said.

A law-enforcement source said Oyindamola had been "upset about a recent infidelity."

Bloomberg orders harrassment of legal gun owner

From the Daily News:

"This is the last legal gun that you can have without registration in New York," Littlejohn said. "And yet Mayor Bloomberg is driven crazy by my flintlock gun - the one that won the American Revolution."

Littlejohn fired the first shot when he hired a Tennessee blacksmith to recreate the vintage rifle. It arrived at his Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, apartment in June - followed quickly by city cops.

Police claim it's illegal for Littlejohn to keep the flintlock without a gun license.

Littlejohn, 50, cites the earliest American patriots as his inspiration while refusing to surrender his firearm or apply for a license.

The social worker is also clinging to a little-known exemption in the city's strict gun laws.

The loophole allows license-free ownership of "antique firearms" - defined as rifles that require the bullet and gunpowder to be loaded separately.

Littlejohn's rifle appears to fit the bill.

That's not enough to make the NYPD retreat.

The cops visited Littlejohn's apartment and sat down this month with the Tennessee blacksmith who forged the rifle.

The lead detective on the case told Littlejohn's lawyer that he had orders "from higher-ups" to pursue the case, according to an e-mail the lawyer sent to Littlejohn.

Bird's eye view of Queens Plaza strip club

Restless has a humorous post about the LIC vista, which just oozes fine taste and classiness.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Save Coney Island on rezoning vote: ‘A Sad Day for New York City’

In response to today’s City Council vote to approve the Bloomberg administration’s flawed rezoning plan for Coney Island, grassroots activist group Save Coney Island issued the following statement from its spokesman, Juan Rivero:

This is a sad day for New York City. As a result of this rezoning, people across the city and around the world who love Coney Island could see its historic amusement district shrunk, covered up and blocked off with high-rises, its history destroyed and its potential squandered — all for nothing.

There are numerous places around the globe that have built glorious parks that pay tribute to Coney Island. Here, where we have the original, the city has been all too happy to shrink it out of existence.

The City Council had an opportunity to fix this plan. Unfortunately, it chose not to do so.

This plan shrinks Coney Island’s famed amusement district, leaving behind a tiny amusement park of only 12 acres. It allows four huge high-rises — up to 27 stories tall — in the heart of the historic amusement district, walling off the beach and the rides. It invites developers to tear down Coney Island’s handful of historic buildings, including Nathan’s Famous and others that are more than a century old.

The Bloomberg administration has stubbornly ignored the appeals of the Municipal Art Society, The New York Times, Save Coney Island, longtime Astroland owner Carol Albert, Coney Island’s unofficial ‘mayor’ Dick Zigun and leading New York historians to fix its plan.

This rezoning plan will irreparably damage Coney Island. Now it’s up to the Bloomberg administration to mitigate that damage by working to increase the size of the outdoor amusement area and by preventing the construction of high-rises in the middle of the amusement district. It is our hope and expectation that it will do so.

Why would Mayor Bloomberg want his legacy to be associated with the destruction of Coney Island’s amusement district — with the destruction of this iconic place? Wouldn’t he rather go down in history as the mayor who restored Coney Island to its rightful stature, and saved it for the next generation?

If the Bloomberg administration does not have the perspective and the humility to revise its plan, this rezoning will be remembered as a disgraceful moment in the history of our city, akin to the demolition of the old Penn Station.

Photo from Who Walk in Brooklyn

District 20 debate turns into Royal Rumble

From the Queens Campaigner:

It was billed as a debate, but it turned into an airing of dirty laundry.

The six Democratic candidates running for the seat of City Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) participated in a candidates’ forum in Flushing Monday night, but what started as a cordial discourse on issues affecting District 20 quickly devolved into a fracas replete with allegations of everything from racism to planted questions.

During the course of the forum, held at Korea Village by Terence Park’s Our Political Coalition, candidates Yen Chou and Isaac Sasson were openly called racists, John Choe was criticized for calling the United States imperialist in a 2006 speech, S.J. Jung was accused of living in another state and Constantine Kavadas erupted against forum panelists whom he accused of asking questions planted by opposing campaigns.

Tomorrow night is round 2 at the Flushing Library! Don't miss it!

No third term for Manhattan tweeder

From PolitickerNY:

City Councilman Alan Gerson has been removed from the ballot, according to a source at the city Board of Elections.

Gerson was seeking to be reinstated during a meeting today, but that effort was not successful, according to this source.

Gerson, a Democrat representing Lower Manhattan, had been facing a spirited primary challenge from a few opponents, including Margaret Chin, Peter Gleason and P.J. Kim.

Gerson is the first sitting elected official removed from the ballot this election cycle.

Hopefully he won't be the last 3rd termer, either. And he did vote "yes" last October.

Bloomberg losing ground in new poll

From the NY Times: a hypothetical matchup against Mr. Thompson, Mr. Bloomberg leads by 47 to 37 percent. Mr. Thompson, who is black, has made strides in particular among black voters, who support him by 56-30 percent, and Democrats, who narrowly support him by 45 to 42 percent.

In the previous Quinnipiac poll, released on June 16, Mr. Bloomberg led Mr. Thompson by 54 to 32 percent, and led among blacks and Democrats. But there is an important difference: in the June poll, Mr. Bloomberg was identified as an independent, while in the July one, he is identified as an independent and a Republican, suggesting that party labels are beginning to help Mr. Thompson.

More voters also say that Mr. Bloomberg, who has spent $36 million of his fortune on the campaign so far, is “a case of overkill,” according to the poll, with 61 percent saying so in July, and 56 percent saying so the previous month.

Photo from PolitickerNY

Pelican makes surprise stop at Riis Park

From City Birder:

It was about 12:55pm and I was drying off after taking a swim. My back was to the water, when Robin exclaimed, "Is that a pelican?" I turned around and, sure enough, a Brown Pelican was cruising in from the west a short distance from shore and just above the waves. It turned right, then came to rest in the water about 100 yards from shore. I was astounded. What the heck was a Brown Pelican doing at a New York City beach?!

Illegal hotel walls in Manhattan family

From the NY Post:

The rear of Jeffrey and Michelle Feig's apartment building at 225 Central Park West overlooked green back yards that enhanced the peaceful environment.

Until last year, when the Kadoe family in a neighboring brownstone at 7 W. 82nd St. decided to rake in up to $1,650 a week by renting part of their building as a hotel, the Feigs claim in a lawsuit.

The space is advertised on as a "charming Central Park West apartment" that can sleep up to six people.

The neighbors soon built a terrace that brought a different set of "guests" eye-level with the Feigs' window each week.

The rancor between the Feigs and Kadoes ratcheted up, and in February Michel Kadoe installed a fence just inches from the family's window, according to court papers.

Print your own parking placard

From the NY Post:

Despite a widely touted citywide crackdown on parking placards -- both real and counterfeit -- New Yorkers can apparently still easily flout the law by parking with bogus permits.

Transportation Alternatives, a group that promotes bike-riding and mass transit, tested Mayor Bloomberg's anti-placard movement by parking a car illegally in Manhattan last week with a fake permit bearing the name of a bogus agency, "Citizen Protection Administration."

After six hours, the green Mazda Miata didn't get any summonses.

No-bid is a no-win

From Neighborhood Retail Alliance:

When the folks voted to install Mike Bloomberg as their mayor-and did it a second time-the prevailing wisdom was that, owing to the mayor's vast fortune, the public could count on a corruption-free mayoralty. What was not taken into consideration, was the Bloomberg old boys network that gave Dan Doctoroff and the Related Companies to NYC. As a result of this, we were able to bear witness to a whole series of sweetheart no-bid deals that left the city less well off than it should have been.

No-bid deals similar to ones at the Department of Education (years later you find out the school is contaminated).

There was also some shady bidding for a project to clean up the Staten Island landfill.

In the era of open government there are still a lot of deals happening behind closed doors.

Vibrant! Diverse! Enough!

Actually, it's not only in New York or only in Queens. These type of events are celebrated throughout the world wherever people of the Hindu faith build shrines. This screenshot from

Instead of hyping "vibrancy" and "diversity" all the time, maybe the Queens weeklies should talk about how none of this would be possible if it wasn't for the freedom of religion this country's constitution provides. Freedom of religion that was first demanded by Flushing Quakers. (The celebration of that happened in 2007, wasn't exactly front page news and has long since been forgotten until the 400th anniversary.) But that would require actually caring about the history of Queens instead of reducing it to running an old photo of the borough once a week on one of the back pages. Queens has been "diverse" for centuries so why do we act like it just started within the past few years? Why do newspapers act surprised that people actually take advantage of the opportunity and freedoms our country provides?

Why do reporters flock to events such as Hindu festivals and condo openings yet ignore many issues of vital importance to their readers? Like how we are supposed to absorb 1 million more people when we can't meet the needs of the ones we have now? How long before our sewers and electrical systems give out completely? How about asking why we are inviting 1 million more people here and how will it benefit the people already here? The latest building boom certainly hasn't benefited the natives as promised. Remember the mantra of more jobs! increased tax base! more money for services! Well, where is it? Why did we give giant tax breaks to developers? Why are we pushing ahead with massive development projects when we lost 3 hospitals within the past year?

Crying over expensive milk


Talk about milking the system! The city Department of Education is on track to spend $35 million more on milk contracts over the next five years after scrapping its old delivery system -- just as The Post warned last year.

Companies formerly bid on individual schools and added them to their store routes, costing the city $19 million a year.

So the DOE created eight huge routes, eliminating smaller distributors. Yet the new cost of delivery is $26 million a year, a 37 percent jump.

The DOE attributes the spike to an 81 percent rise in the price of milk since the last contracts were signed in 2003. But a gallon cost less than $2.80 in 2003 and $3.80 last year, about 35 percent more. And since then, it's dropped back to $3.20.

Still, David Ross, DOE head of contracting, insists going from some 1,200 bids to one on Staten Island, one in Manhattan and two in each of the other three boroughs reins in costs.

Hemmerdingers want Atlas Park back

From the Daily News:

The family of outgoing MTA Chairman Dale Hemmerdinger is quietly angling to regain control of the tony Queens mall it founded three years ago but lost to foreclosure in February, sources said.

The Shops at Atlas Park, an outdoor complex in Glendale anchored by a movie theater and restaurants, is controlled by a court-appointed lawyer until a foreclosure sale, expected to happen late this year or in early 2010.

Community leaders believe the Hemmerdingers recently formed ATCO Advisory Services, a subsidiary of the clan's retail management firm, to prepare to buy the mall at their own foreclosure sale.

"They are at least making moves to look at acquiring the property," said Lydon Sleeper, the chief of staff for City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village).

Hemmerdinger's son, Damon, who was the mall's development director and serves as principal of ATCO Advisory, denied that the venture was created to bid on Atlas Park.

Paul Millus, the center's court-appointed receiver, said he didn't know what the family might do.

But Sleeper was direct when asked if the Hemmerdingers are positioning themselves to buy the Cooper Ave. complex.

"The different things that we've heard seem to suggest that," he said, declining to reveal his sources.

The crappiest street in Queens?

Forgotten-NY thinks they've found it!

Click photo for story.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Queens Lotto winner comes forward

From the Queens Courier:

One Kew Gardens man had a whole ‘lotto’ luck on his side as he came forward as the winner of the $133 million winner of the July 7, Mega Millions jackpot.

MTA collections agent Aubrey Boyce, 49, took home the second largest Mega Millions jackpot in New York State history electing to take the lump sum, which after taxes means that he will receive about $54.7 million.

“I was in deep shock; I couldn’t believe I was the winner,” said Boyce, who spoke softly at a news conference that took place at Grand Central station on Tuesday, July 28.

On the morning of July 7, Boyce purchased $2 in Quick Pick numbers from the Shiv Convenience story on Hillside Avenue in Jamaica. Later that night, he watched the drawing on TV, and he remembered seeing some of the numbers on one of his tickets. He checked it again, and he told his wife Francis that he had the winning ticket.

“She thought I was joking,” Boyce said.

Apparently, earlier reports that the winner was female were incorrect.

Benefit for 5 Pointz victim Thursday night

From the Daily News:

Nicole Gagne — the artist severely injured in an April stairway collapse at the 5Pointz building in Long Island City — is “continuing to recover” from the horrific accident, her mother told Queens News.

The 37-year-old jewelry designer rented a studio in the Crane St. former factory, which graffiti artists have turned into a canvas for street art.

Gagne was leaving her studio April 10 when an external stairway crumbled. She fell three stories and was trapped under rubble. She was initially in critical condition in the trauma unit at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan.

Three months later, she is no longer hospitalized, but still fighting to recover, her mother said in the family’s first public comments since the accident.

Gagne’s friends and fellow 5Pointz studiomates are holding a benefit Thursday to help raise money for her expenses.

It will run from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Priska C. Juschka Fine Art gallery in Chelsea. Postcard-sized artwork will be sold for $40.

DeBlasio back on the ballot

From Crain's:

City Councilman Bill de Blasio is back on the ballot.

The candidate for public advocate was restored to the Democratic primary ballot Tuesday afternoon by an 8-0 vote of the city Board of Elections commissioners. One commissioner abstained, citing his presence on the subcommittee that voted last week to remove Mr. de Blasio because of an error on his petitions’ cover sheet.

The Brooklyn councilman’s attorney, Henry Berger, said that in his 35 years practicing election law in New York, he had never seen a case like this one. State election law is notoriously arcane and has resulted in many candidates being bounced from the ballot, but never a major candidate for a citywide office.

“It was certainly unusual, a little bit disturbing, but we got it straightened out,” Mr. Berger said. “That’s the bottom line.”

Partial building collapse in Harlem

From Fox 5:

A construction worker who fell four stories in Halrem is expected to recover from minor injuries.

Fire officials say workers at 77 West 126th street were loading cylinders onto a plank on the fourth floor when the plank gave way sending the worker to the basement.

He was taken to Harlem Hospital. No one else was injured.

Buildings inspectors were on the scene checking for any code violations.

Feds investigating Richmond Hill bird smugglers

From 1010WINS:

The two black finches whistled songs at each other in fluttering voices as a group of men crowded around their cages.

It was the first bird singing competition of the morning, and men on either side of the two cages counted the songs, each as fleeting as a haiku. The first finch to tweet 50 would be declared the winner.

For years, bird racing, as the sport is known, has been held in a park in the Richmond Hill neighborhood of Queens on warm Sunday afternoons with scant attention from outsiders.

Yet the races have drawn increased scrutiny recently from law enforcement, as federal officials target illegal smuggling of finches from Guyana. Authorities also suspect the men place illegal bets on the birds.

The people who flock to the races, mostly Guyanese immigrant men, argue that it is simply a harmless cultural pastime.

"This is how we relax our minds," said Rajendra "Bush" Harinarian, who compared the sport to watching baseball for Americans. "We hang out with our friends, with the birds."

John Neal, a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service agent serving New York, said his agents investigate six to eight finch smuggling cases each year. Most of the birds are destined to compete in the races at Phil "Scooter" Rizzuto Park, previously known as Smokey Oval Park, he said.

The illicit trade is fueled by the demand for males of species native to Guyana known as the lesser-seed finch or "towa-towa," Neal said. Racing enthusiasts consider them the best singers, he said.

Though the smuggled birds sometimes die before arrival, the males that survive can sell for hundreds or thousands of dollars in the U.S. market.

Gioia smells blood, pounces on rival's supporters

From the Daily News:

When public advocate candidate Bill de Blasio was kicked off the ballot Thursday for a typo in his petition filings, his rivals offered their sympathy.

But one of them - City Councilman Eric Gioia of Queens - jumped on the phone that night looking for endorsements from the Brooklyn councilman's supporters.

One union official who got a late-night call from the eager Gioia wasn't impressed.

"It was over-the-top inappropriate," he said.

De Blasio is fighting his ballot boot, caused by a mistake on the cover sheet of his petitions. Three other candidates - Democrats Mark Green and Norman Siegel and Republican Alex Zablocki - have said a technicality shouldn't knock de Blasio out.

Gioia agreed - but that didn't stop him or his staff from near-instantly trolling for support from de Blasio backers.

"I was stunned, frankly - it was so brazen," the union official said.

Choe runs on anti-American platform

From the NY Post:

The comments of John Choe, one of six candidates trying to succeed Councilman John Liu in Flushing, were reported in the Workers World newspaper.

"Korea is at the front line of the liberation struggles against imperialism," Choe was quoted as telling a conference here in May 2006 on "Preparing for the Rebirth of the Global Struggle for Socialism."

"From the very beginning, when the US intervened and occupied Korea, the Korean people have been resisting and struggling. And I urge all of you here to help us in our dark days trying to win back freedom and independence from the United States and its military."

Choe's position poses something of a problem for Liu and the Queens Democratic Party, which has endorsed him.

Liu, now running for comptroller, insisted Choe, his former chief of staff, was being stigmatized by "McCarthyism."

"There's no way he made those comments, no way," declared Liu, not aware of Choe's admission [that he had].

The defensive despot

From the Daily News:

Plenty of New Yorkers knew the Buildings Department was failing to protect them long before Bloomberg cracked down and pushed out former Commissioner Patricia Lancaster.

And many critics questioned the safety of demolishing the Deutsche Bank building long before Bloomberg went to the funerals of two firefighters who died there.

The Democrats who want to dethrone him, city Controller William Thompson and Queens Councilman Tony Avella, say Bloomberg is blind to other problems that New Yorkers see clearly - like neighborhoods handed over to developers and schools obsessed with testing instead of learning.

His defenders point out that Bloomberg has put city data online so anyone with a computer can see which agencies aren't measuring up. He really does ride the subway around town, and regular New Yorkers really do walk up to him with problems and complaints.

Yet in the recent battle over how to run city schools, he brushed away even the most well-intentioned criticism, dismissed every question about the statistics that support his claims, and accused anyone who questioned his plans of trying to hurt children.

Flushing homeowners earn big bucks for U.S. Open rentals

From the Daily News:

Queens homeowners willing to hand over their house keys to strangers can net a tidy profit on the upcoming U.S. Open.

Signs are popping up on the leafy streets of Flushing offering residents up to $10,000 a day to rent out their homes during the Grand Slam tournament, which starts Aug. 31.

Major Event Rentalz, an Arizona-based company that helps people lease out their homes for major sporting events, posted the black-and-white signs.

So far, 10 local homeowners have offered up their digs on the company's Web site. Prices range from $2,000 a day for a three-bedroom home to $10,500 for an eight-bedroom mansion.

Major Event Rentalz collects a 10% commission for its service, which includes the Web listing and a local real estate agent to broker the contract between the homeowner and renter.

Other Flushing residents are cutting out middlemen like Johnson altogether, posting ads on Craigslist for two-week sublets during the tournament.

Rudy Luo is renting out the basement of his home to a tournament referee.

"It's a little bit of extra income for me," said Luo, who has been subletting his basement to tournament goers for years.

He charges $300 a week plus a security deposit.

Why didn't the Daily News call the Department of Buildings to ask about the legality of this? Why must they instead write what one of my readers said was "a fucking real estate pimp piece"?

Cuomo probing Carrozza's claims

From the Daily News:

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is investigating whether Assemblywoman Ann-Margaret Carrozza broke state law by living in a Long Island mansion instead of her Queens district.

Cuomo's office launched the probe in response to an exclusive Daily News report that revealed the Democratic lawmaker claimed in a mortgage document that the Glen Head, L.I., manse would be her "principal residence," sources said.

Cuomo's investigators - armed with statements Carrozza has made to The News - are focusing on whether she filed a false business document when she took out the $1 million mortgage, the sources said.

Carrozza, who has vowed to run for reelection next year, said she welcomes Cuomo's probe.

"I am confident he will find that at all times I have maintained my primary residence right here in Bayside," she said. That claim contradicts her mortgage pledge and statements she previously made to The News.

The mortgage papers Carrozza signed state the posh Gold Coast digs would be her "principal residence within 60 days" and "for at least one year" thereafter.

Cuomo's probers are examining whether Carrozza, 42, was able to obtain a more favorable interest rate with that assertion, the sources said.

College Point park bathroom pees on kids

There's water shooting through the wall of the bathroom facilities at MacNeil Park. And area children seem to love having the building pee on them. Hey - Parks is on a tight budget and sprinklers are expensive!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Flushing Meadow Park bird rescue underway

Hi Queens Crap,

This is Cathryn from the Washington Square Park Blog.

Some white ringneck doves -- probably released at a wedding or other "celebration" -- who can't survive on their own... have no wildlife skills... and are raised to be released at weddings -- landed late yesterday at Flushing Meadows Park. People are in the midst of rescuing them - about 15 were rescued last night but there are still about 30 there. See photos.


Here's an update from the Post and the NY Times.

Vallone got campaign contributions from WM

From the Queens Campaigner:

[Kevin] Kim has raised $233,102 and spent $161,848 in the race, according to city Campaign Finance Board figures. [Paul] Vallone, son of former Council Speaker Peter Vallone and brother of Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), has raised the second-highest amount in the race with $135,526 and spent $88,795.

Vallone’s contributions were a mixture of large and small donations.

He received $3,000 from Astoria’s Michael Partridge Realty Corp. and Waste Management in Houston as well as $2,750 from his father Peter Vallone, the former Council speaker; an employee of Old Westbury-based Nash Builders real estate company; and homemakers from Manhattan, Jackson Heights and Lawrence, N.Y. Other contributors include his brother Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., the president of Bayside’s Helms Bros. Automobile, attorneys from Mattone & McCabe, the Steamfitters Local 638 union, the Sheet Metal Workers 28 union, actor Tony LoBianco and CB 7 Vice Chairman Chuck Apelian. Apelian is also his campaign manager.

Wow, a $3000 campaign contribution from Waste Management on top of $1M in lobbying fees to get them an unnecessary truck contract with the City. Amazing!

Don't pick up passengers in a bike lane

From NY1:

If a road has bike lanes on both sides, how can a driver load and unload passengers? That's the question one Lower East Side resident had after receiving a ticket for blocking a bike lane. NY1's Susan Jhun filed the following report.

Lower East Side resident Ernest Marshall never expected to get a ticket for blocking a bike lane.

But he recently received a $115 ticket when he pulled over to pick up his wife.

"As my wife was leaving the sidewalk to get into the car, a traffic officer pulled in front of me, blocked me in and then proceeded to give me a traffic ticket," says Marshall.

He says he wasn't standing for more than a second, as his wife walked to the car and wonders where he was suppose to pull over to pick her up.

"There's parking, a bike lane and traffic on both sides of the street," says Marshall. "It's impossible to load or unload passengers from a car without blocking a bike lane or traffic itself. It's unfair."

Under city traffic rules, which are enforced by the New York Police Department, bicycle lanes are considered no stopping zones and vehicles, whether attended or not, are not permitted to stop, stand or park in them.

According to traffic rules, there are no exceptions, including commercial vehicles and vehicles dropping off children, seniors and the disabled.

Marshall, who cycles himself, says he has nothing against bike lanes but wonders why drivers all over the city are allowed to load and unload passengers in other no stopping zones without ever being ticketed.

NY1 called the Department of Transportation for a comment and a spokesperson said that on Marshall's street there's alternate side parking and meter spaces. If those are occupied, vehicles are permitted to expeditiously drop off or pick up passengers at the bus stop.

Marshall says drivers would have no way of knowing.

They don't want you to know. They want to give you a ticket.

Pilots' apartments more like flophouses

From the NY Post:

They sleep eight to a room in cramped apartments that can get so out of control that they'd put a frat house to shame -- making getting a good night's rest harder than flying a jet.

But it's just a day in the life for hundreds of pilots who fly out of city airports and spend their nights in dingy Queens crash pads crammed with up to 20 beds.

Crew members for several major airlines told The Post they often get no more than four hours of sleep before their shifts.

Some rented apartments in Kew Gardens and Jackson Heights have rooms stuffed with as many as four bunk beds. Cash-strapped pilots, mechanics and flight attendants pay as little as $125 to $260 per month to stay there.

Some are co-ed havens for sex and parties, while others are home to a constantly rotating cast of characters trying to catch some shut-eye before takeoff.

New parking method causing havoc in Forest Hills

From the Daily News:

Sometimes you have to go backward to go forward - and that's causing some chaos in one Queens neighborhood.

Calling it a safety improvement, the city Transportation Department is flipping parking lines on some wide streets to encourage drivers to back into angled curbside spots.

"It's safer to back into an empty parking space than back out of one into oncoming traffic," DOT spokesman Seth Solomonow said.

But by reversing the angle of the painted lines that define the parking spaces, DOT has made it much harder for drivers to park headfirst.

City hospitals have major issues

From the Daily News:

City-run hospitals faked records and covered up dozens of botched operations, deadly accidents, malpractice and other medical screwups, a Daily News investigation has found.

The coverups hid a trail of human suffering among patients who were maimed and relatives who were never told the truth about how their loved ones died or were injured unnecessarily.

A months-long probe found coverups at all 11 Health & Hospitals Corp. hospitals — the only option for millions of New Yorkers who cannot afford private medical centers.

From 2004 through September 2008, the state cited city hospitals 68 times for violating laws that require immediate reporting of "adverse events," records show.

Each hospital — Bellevue, Coney Island, Elmhurst, Harlem, Jacobi, Kings County, Lincoln, Metropolitan, North Central Bronx, Queens and Woodhull — had at least one citation.

Astoria won't shut up

From the Daily News:

Astoria's ever-growing popularity as a hot spot for outdoor cafes, restaurants, bars and trendy clubs may be a boon for business owners.

But the constant flow of cars and chatter from the street is giving the locals some headaches, making it the top neighborhood for noise complaints in the borough this year.

"We hear drunken brawls and people yelling at 2 and 3 in the morning," said Donnie Marks, a longtime resident who lives near the busy 30th Ave. commercial strip. "Cars speed down the street burning rubber."

During the first six months of the year, noise in Community Board 1, which includes Astoria and parts of Long Island City, sparked more than 3,400 complaints to the city's 311 line.

The majority of those calls came from people complaining about loud neighbors.

Not surprisingly, Greenpoint and Williamsburg also had a plethora of noise complaints.

Rethinking the WTC plan

From Gotham Gazette:

Only two towers? Are we looking at an historic repeat of the original Twin Towers? And the new buildings, with anti-terrorist design features including monstrous bases encased in steel and titanium, will make the pre-9/11 versions look like pastoral wonders.

With the rest of the master plan for the site postponed indefinitely, the towers could again be surrounded by vast empty spaces or, at best, a couple of lonely memorial sites and a small cultural center. And the office buildings could have lots of empty space. The original Twin Towers, which opened in 1973, had so many vacancies that public offices were brought in to fill them up. No wonder the Port Authority doesn’t want to subsidize Silverstein up front.

So after eight years of wrangling over exactly how to dump the office space back on the site, this may be a good time to stop and go back to the drawing board. Maybe the critics were right in the first place. Perhaps it would be better to look at the site as an opportunity to express the diversity of interests and needs of New Yorkers. Since most victims of the attacks were not New Yorkers and 9/11 had repercussions far beyond Ground Zero, the focus might appropriately move beyond those who happen to own the land. Maybe New York could learn from the leading examples of rebuilding on sites destroyed during war, like Hiroshima, Japan – a city that dedicated its plan to the cause of global peace and is today a destination for visitors from around the world.

The original World Trade Center: utilized eminent domain abuse, destroyed a truly vibrant section of the city and ultimately was so unsuccessful that it required a developer bailout.

Now history is about to repeat itself in other areas of the City. Why haven't we learned?

Someone finally cut the grass!

Powell's Cove Park, College Point:

June 25, 2009

July 25, 2009

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Why found treasures are best kept quiet

From the Daily News:

The Mexican government has set its sights on dozens of ancient bowls and figurines discovered by a Queens rubbish remover in a SoHo apartment.

The Mexican Cultural Institute asked a specialist to review photos of the artifacts found by rubbish remover Nick DiMola and seek their return if they're genuine.

Officials believe international law is on their side in any bid to seize the pieces - left in a barrel at a Prince St. apartment in 2004.

"From 1972 onward, the law declared all the archeological objects in Mexican territory belong in the country of Mexico," said Raúl Zorrilla, executive director of the institute, a branch of the Mexican Consulate.

The pictures were shipped to the specialist on Thursday and should arrive in Mexico within a few days, Zorrilla said.

If they look authentic, the expert may fly to New York and demand DiMola hand them over, Zorrilla said.

A challenging time in the 20th Council District

From the Queens Campaigner:

In the race to replace City Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing), even getting on the ballot is a battle.

With just under two months until the Democratic primary, 46 objections to candidates’ ballot petitions had been filed with the city Elections Board in the race for Liu’s seat — easily the most for any city race in Queens.

According to board records, as of 3 p.m. Monday all six Democrats and the lone Republican registered for the race had at least four challenges filed against them.

Constantine Kavadas received 10 challenges, S.J. Jung and Isaac Sasson each received seven, James Wu received five and John Choe and Yen Chou each received four. Peter Koo, a Republican, received nine challenges.

CitiField contractor cheated employees

From the Daily News:

The construction management giant that built the Mets' Citi Field routinely cheats workers out of overtime, a former employee says.

Renee Sewell accuses Bovis Lend Lease of violating federal wage and labor laws for workers at sites in New York and New Jersey, including the Deutsche Bank tower demolition at Ground Zero.

Sewell, a former Bovis project engineer, sued in Manhattan Federal Court, saying she routinely worked 50 hours or more a week but was denied overtime premiums.

Sewell, of Hoboken, worked at the company from February 2007 through May 2009, when she was laid off.

Sewell's lawyers hope to sign up other workers denied overtime as part of a federal class action.

Bovis "deprived workers, who worked long hours performing low-level construction management services at its work sites, of the overtime premium to which the law entitles them," Sewell's lawyer, Rachel Bien, said yesterday.

Sewell's accusations come as federal probers pore through the books of the Australia-based management firm.