Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Chinatown tells Bloomberg to go to hell

From NY1:

Mayor Michael Bloomberg was greeted by protesters Tuesday while attending a campaign breakfast for seniors in Chinatown.

Protesters say the mayor's policies only serve the wealthy, while destroying the predominantly working families and small business community of Chinatown.

Among their complaints are the continued closure of Park Row, a rezoning plan they say has caused dozens of long-time residents to be evicted, and increases in water rates and rents on small businesses.

"Bloomberg is not welcome in Chinatown. Today he thinks he can come here and buy a few votes by giving a free lunch. But a free lunch is not going to make up for eight years of destroying the community," said one protestor.

I can picture Nazli feverishly typing a nasty letter to these folks right about now.

Tonight when the mayor comes to the Bay Terrace Jewish Center, no doubt he'll be praised for what great things he's done for our borough. There will be no protest. Because although Bloomberg is full of shit, Queens is full of sheep.

Dry erase board message has MTA in a tizzy

From Urbanite:

A transit worker along the No. 7 line apparently made a public dig against straphangers without English skills recently, and the bizarre incident has left MTA officials livid, saying it falls contrary to efforts to increase public transit’s accessibility.

“It’s very upsetting to me,” John Hoban, general line manager of the No. 7 train, said yesterday. “It is the antithesis of what the No. 7 line is about.”

Last week, a transit employee at the Hunters Point Avenue station scrawled “English spoken here” on the token booth’s dry erase board. The sign shocked some riders in the multi-ethnic enclave.

“That’s very rude,” said Wesley Fruge, 26, a Long Island City straphanger who snapped a photo of the sign on Friday. “It’s something that shouldn’t have been there.”

As an agency rule, token booth boards can only display service updates or MetroCard information. Officials yesterday were still investigating who was responsible for the writing and are expected to question two station agents today.

The ironic thing is that you have to be able to read English in order to be offended.

Is the WFP the 21st Century's Tammany Hall?

From True News from

WFP: Return to Tammany Hall Power
Liu over David Yassky, 55.68-44.32; De Blasio over Mark Green, 62.5-37.5

Nobody Asked Me ... But

The City's divided Democratic Party leaders can't elect citywide candidates. It was the power of the paid operation of the WFP and voters turn off by the entire election system that won the day. It is shocking that in a Democrat runoff Liu received 127,173 or just 4% of the registered Democrats in the city (3,177,740). De Blasio did a little better wtih 138, 736, he got 4.4% of the city's democratic voters. Just 2.7% of all the city's registered voters (4,657,516) . . . Liu political consultant and lobbyist Bill Lynch has more power over Liu than consultant lobbyist Hank Morris ever had over former city and state comptroller Alan Hevesi. How will Lynch's complete victories effect the state and city's lobby consultant business. Wayne Barrett of the Village Voice on NY1 questioned last night how Liu elected by the unions will be able to audit and offer the transparency needed of the union pension funds and millions in health care programs they run with city funds.

WFP Could Now Be the Most Power Party Since Tammany Hall
Earlier this month, the WFP the 11,800 member party backed four of the five challengers who ousted incumbents in the City Council. The WFP's ability to pull out the vote for its selected candidates increases that clout considerably, raising the question of how many elected officials are going to be willing to take on. At a meeting of the partnership and Citizen Budget Commission Steven Berger said The only people legislators listen to is the Working Families Party. Both Tammany Hall and WFP gained their power by organizing and providing for the poor.

Bowne House funds available again

From the Daily News:

The long-awaited restoration of a 17th-century Flushing home will proceed "full speed ahead" despite funding woes that had threatened to derail rehabilitation, city Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe said Tuesday.

Plans to construct a visitor's center beside the Bowne House - the oldest structure in Queens and a symbol of religious freedom that was recently donated to the city - are also on target for 2012, Benepe said.

"We probably have a pretty good shot," Benepe said of finishing the restoration and the new visitor's center on time.

The project is funded with $5 million from the city, state and private groups.

Repairs to the Colonial-era home seemed headed for delays when the city announced it was deferring $628,000 allocated by Councilman John Liu until 2013.

But Benepe said the city will "have enough money to do all the pressing work."

He also hailed the stability that comes with the site's transfer from the private Bowne House Historical Society to the city - a move which will be feted today at an 11:30 a.m. ceremony.

"Going under the umbrella of the Historic House Trust will afford all kinds of services and protection and sort of a backstop for bad times," Benepe said.

The joke's on the GOP, part 4

Getty Images

From NBC 4:

Mayor Michael Bloomberg doesn't know who the GOP candidates for citywide election are, but he says they've got no chance at winning – an interesting comment from the guy who, ahem, is running for mayor on the Republican line.

"They have no chance whatsoever … whoever they are," the mayor said at a press conference today.

Suffice it to say, Bloomie's probably not making any new friends in the GOP. Last week he said he didn't even know the names of the Republicans running for citywide offices, reports the Daily News.

The New York GOP probably won't be happy about Bloomberg's latest comments, considering his name is at the top of their ballot in November. But perhaps the mayor may be deliberately saying things that annoy the GOP in order to court the city's Democratic voters, who outnumber Republicans by four or five to one.

Paterson picks a real winner

From The Real Deal:

On July 1, Joe Berko, the president of the commercial real estate firm Berko & Associates, became the newest member of the New York State Real Estate Board, the agency that issues broker licenses, through an appointment by Gov. David Paterson.

Not to be confused (as is often the case) with the similarly named Real Estate Board of New York, or REBNY, which advocates for business interests, Berko's board sits on the other side of the equation, as an arm of the government.

As one of five brokers on the 13-member board, which also includes the Secretary of State, Berko, who will initially serve a two-year term, hopes to boost the levels of training his industry receives.

Will that include training on how to misrepresent development sites as residential as-of-right when they aren't?

Dutch Kills ecstatic over residential move-in

From the Daily News:

Neighbors gossip when a newcomer moves onto their block, but rarely does a community react with the type of buzz that has accompanied Dominic Stiller's arrival in Dutch Kills.

The 45-year-old engineer is believed to be the first to move into new housing in the industrial patch of Long Island City since 1961, when the city barred new homes in favor of manufacturing.

Civic leaders are so elated by Stiller's planned move - the result of a recent zoning switch - that they sent out a news release last week hailing a "milestone in their decades-long battle."

They feel it signals an end to a half-century when Dutch Kills kept out new homes like Stiller's and witnessed an influx of auto body shops and car dealers.

"Hopefully he's as happy as we are to see him," said Jerry Walsh, 59, the president of the local civic association and a 34-year Dutch Kills resident.

Curbed has more.

Wonder if this is "new house" is Queens Crap or something more interesting.

Developer wants to brick up 10 windows

From the NY Post:

A Queens landlord wants to leave a longtime tenant and her family in the dark by sealing up nine of their 10 windows and building an apartment tower next door, court papers reveal.

Santino DiFiore got a permit from the city's Buildings Department to remove the windows from the north side of his four-story building at 20-24 31st St. in Astoria so he could build the six-story DiFiore Tower.

His grand plans, however, have been stalled by a stop-work order issued yesterday after a phone call from The Post.

The work would have left hairdresser JoAnn McGurty Sullivan, 42 -- whose parents lived in the rent-controlled, ground-floor, two-bedroom apartment before she was born -- with only one window to share with her husband, bus driver Jeremiah Sullivan, and their teen son, Daulton.

The other units on that side of the building are already vacant.

"The project's architect, Gerard Caliendo, failed to disclose that the building is occupied by rent-regulated units. As a result the DOB is auditing the application, issuing a stop-work order to the project and launching an immediate investigation," spokesman Tony Sclafani said.

Rockrose split finalized

From the NY Times:

The three brothers — known as the Elghanayan brothers — who are among the city’s most prolific residential builders over the past 40 years, completed their long-awaited break-up Tuesday with the division of a multibillion dollar empire of apartments and office buildings.

The oldest brother, H. Henry Elghanayan, retained the company name, Rockrose Development, as well as 2,634 apartments in buildings ranging from the Archive building on Greenwich Street in Manhattan to the “East Coast,” a massive high rise on the waterfront in Queens. Mr. Elghanayan, the only brother with a son, Justin, in the family business, initiated the split. He and his son, he said, wanted to go out on their own to develop some land that they had acquired over the years.

Mr. Elghanayan also held onto a large development site across 11th Avenue from the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on Manhattan’s West Side and three development sites at Court Square in Long Island City.

His younger brothers, Thomas and Frederick Elghanayan, will operate as TF Cornerstone, with 3,200 apartments and seven office towers, including the family’s most well known, Carnegie Hall Tower on West 57th Street. They control two of the three towers the brothers built at Queens West, as well as three development sites there.

The brothers will share ownership of four other office buildings, and two residential buildings, including 99 John St.

Eminent domain debate on WNYC

The Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC:

Christopher Serkin, associate professor of law at Brooklyn Law School, explains what eminent domain is and how it's used. Dana Berliner, senior attorney at the Institute for Justice and Kathryn Wylde, president & CEO of the Partnership for New York City argue the ins and outs of the policy. Then, WNYC's Matthew Schuerman outlines the mayoral candidates' positions on eminent domain in NYC.

Developer turns LIC home into hellhole

From the Daily News:

Kenny Greenberg and Diane Hendry have been living in a broken home for years - and dealing with broken promises from a developer they say destroyed their Long Island City house.

The couple's two-story townhouse was severely damaged between 2006 and 2008 when Casa Vizcaya, a five-story condominium, was built alongside it on 46th Road.

The condo developer agreed to fix their home, but now the repairs have stalled and they're living in a dangerous and active construction site, the couple said.

"It's been almost three years since our house was literally cracked in half by East View Construction," said Hendry, an artist. "Every day, I'm exhausted by this ordeal."

The damage described by the couple reads like a homeowner's worst nightmare: bulging walls, floor-to-ceiling cracks, leaking water and the entire basement floor split in half.

Not sure if the side of the development pictured is Kenny's side, but it is worth pointing out that it's on the same block that the Hunters Point house hole is on.

Damn shame what Burden did there.

More Bloombergian hypocrisy

From the NY Post:

Mayor Bloomberg doesn't want New Yorkers anywhere near sugary drinks -- so stay away from the ones on tap at the city's Department of Health.

Weeks after the city unveiled an advertising blitz on subways that depicts sugary drinks morphing into yellow globs of human fat when poured over glasses of ice, The Post spotted a vending machine in the agency's main lobby at 125 Worth St. stocked with the beverage no-nos.

In addition to diet sodas, some of the drinks on hand are Gatorade, Snapple and Coca-Cola -- the trio the city singled out in the ads with pictures of anonymous bottles that closely resemble those beverages.

"It seems as if it's 'Do as we say and not what we do.' It's certainly interesting that that's the case," said lobbyist Richard Lipsky, who represents the beverage company Good-O, makers of Arizona drinks, Orange Crush and Coco Rico.

"The fact that they haven't removed the soda machine just shows you that we shouldn't allow the Department of Health bureaucrats to make decisions for us, because their decision-making process is often jaundiced."

The city's campaign, which is its latest attempt to target obesity, cost taxpayers $277,000. A private donor gave $90,000 to the effort.

City Hall officials declined comment.

More proof that zoning is a joke

From Brownstoner:

"one way to ruin a cute row of circa 1940's Tudor style single family homes? Throw an illegal extension on the roof of one of them and create a stalled work site." According to this tipster, despite a Stop Work Order still being in place, there was activity on the site last week.

You'd think by now, city planning would have adopted a measure that prohibits this kind of ridiculous blight on the streetscape. But that might actually improve quality of life in this city and do nothing to help developers.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Liu and DeBlasio win handily

Comptroller runoff results:

Liu 55.7%
Yassky 44.3%

Public Advocate runoff results:
DeBlasio: 62.5%
Green: 37.5%

How not to publish a newspaper... Photoshop edition

City Hall has published their annual Rising Stars: 40 Under 40 edition spotlighting government-connected people under the age of 40 who they think may be "going places". Apparently, one of them did go somewhere ... so a bad attempt to Photoshop him out of this photo was made and accidentally posted on City Hall's website. Did the mystery man perhaps lose the Dem primary or get indicted?

(The photo has since been cropped and reposted.)

Bloomberg's SCA made dirty deal with developer

From The Real Deal:

The School Construction Authority allegedly colluded with a Brooklyn developer to propose a sub-standard middle school on Dock Street in Dumbo. According to Freedom of Information Law documents that Council member David Yassky's office obtained, the SCA knew that the proposed Dock Street middle school would be at a size "compromised from [the SCA's] standards with premium costs due to the mixed use with the high-rise residential building." According to a report from Yassky's office, the SCA knowingly withheld information on making the safest, largest, most cost-efficient school, while promoting the Dock Street plan.

Yeah, but then Yassky made a dirty deal with Christine Quinn to get it passed.

Investigating Bloomberg's "Dark Knight"

From the Village Voice:

Rod Blagojevich, who was selling his just-published book in New York last week, has a lot to say about Bradley Tusk, the former Deputy Governor of Illinois now running Mike Bloomberg's campaign.

Tusk left Bloomberg's City Hall staff in 2003 just a few months after Blagojevich became governor to take what Blagojevich said in a Voice interview Monday was his "number one post" in the government. Tusk remained deputy governor through Blagojevich's 2006 re-election, leaving to join Lehman Brothers in 2007. Asked if Tusk ever expressed any "concerns" about the pay-to-play and other allegations that engulfed the Blagojevich administration during those years, the former governor said: "No, he never said that. He did not think that things were being done in a wrong way."

...the initial federal complaint against Blagojevich charged him with "a scheme to defraud the state" that started in 2002. The first 31 pages of the 76-page arrest affidavit recounted events that occurred while Tusk was at the helm of the government. In fact, the affidavit indicates that the probe began in 2003. By the time Tusk left, a half dozen of Blagojevich's closest associates had been indicted, some had even pled guilty, and his campaign committee had paid over $700,000 to a top criminal law firm to fend off charges against him.

The fires peaked during the 2006 campaign, when a flight to New York to see Bloomberg -- orchestrated by Tusk in 2003 and later dubbed the Shakedown Shuttle in Chicago news accounts -- evoked a firestorm of criticism. Tusk and Blagojevich's bodyguard were the only passengers on the seven-passenger chartered flight not to be indicted.

Blagojevich came to the city to jointly announce an international prescription drug importation program with the mayor, an initiative that Tusk developed that was so illegally operated it became a charge in the eventual impeachment proceedings against Blagojevich. Not only does the pending Blagojevich indictment allude repeatedly to the criminal conversations that occurred on that flight, government charges filed against others on the flight were filed while the ostensibly untroubled Tusk was still with Blagojevich.

The ex-governor was very protective of Tusk during his 35-minute interview, recalling, for example, that he'd met former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld and onetime New York State Comptroller Çarl McCall at a Harvard Club fundraiser thrown for him during the 2003 trip, and even recounting what he'd said at the fundraiser, but drawing a blank on whether Tusk was there. Tusk also wouldn't answer questions about whether he'd gone to the three fundraisers that day when we posed them before we published the March story (Wolfson answered questions selectively at that time and Tusk declined to talk to us). A Democratic legislator, Jack Franks, told the Voice in March that Tusk's appearance on the trip was "highly inappropriate," noting that Blagojevich's staff was "enabling him" to blur "the line between state and political business."

$35B for HFA mortgages

From the Wall Street Journal:

The Obama administration is close to committing as much as $35 billion to help beleaguered state and local housing agencies continue to provide mortgages to low- and moderate-income families, according to administration officials.

The move would further cement the government's role in propping up the housing market even as some lawmakers push to curb spending at a time of rising debt.

The effort, which could be announced as early as this week, is aimed at relieving pressure on government-operated housing finance agencies, which have been struggling to find funding amid the downturn. These agencies, or HFAs, are a small part of the housing market but are critical to many first-time and low-income home buyers, who can get lower-rate mortgages through an HFA than they could through a private-sector lender. Rates are typically 0.5 to one percentage point lower than commercial lenders.

Isn't this how we got in trouble in the first place?

947 units on old brewery site

From the NY Post:

A mini-city is brewing at an old beer factory in Bushwick.

Developer Read Property Group is asking the city to approve the building of 947 apartments and townhouses where the Rheingold Brewery once stood.

The site is just blocks away from the proposed "Broadway Triangle" project. If both developments win approval, it would pave the way for an additional 2,842 homes in the hardscrabble neighborhood that has seen a revitalization in recent years.

Some critics doubt all the units will sell, given the housing glut, and complain the city is adding too many residents without expanding services.

"We call it putting 20 pounds of s--t in a 10-pound bag," said activist Phil DePaolo. "This is just going to bring more people, more cars, more needs on sanitation, police, fire, library, schools." noticed that's how Bloomberg does things, too, huh? More brownfields for brown skins with stairways to heaven. Yippee!

It's White by 4 votes

From the Queens Campaigner:

The City’s Board of Elections released the official vote tally for the hotly contested Democratic primary for Council District 28, naming incumbent Thomas White the winner by the slimmest of margins.

White, who is running for his second term, beat challenger Lynn Nunes by four votes, with 1,940 Democratic constituents choosing him as their candidate, according to the BOE. The results were released by the BOE on Sept. 23.

Nunes is challenging.

Someone's finally telling the truth about Bloomberg

From Bloomberg Watch:

Jarrett Murphy, investigations editor at City Limits, says it all in this Huffington Post piece:

From the beginning, Mayor Bloomberg has depicted last year’s decision to loosen term limits as the City Council’s idea. When in the late summer of 2008 he first publicly floated a trial balloon about seeking a third term, he did it by saying he’d have to “seriously think about” running if the Council decided to upend the two-term constraint. When he formally threw his weight behind the revision last October, he said he’d run again “should the City Council vote to amend term limits.” And earlier this year—just before he angrily called a reporter a “disgrace” for daring to ask about the rationale behind the extension—the mayor said: “The rationale for extending term limits is that the City Council passed it.”

The facts that the Council had considered changing term limits for years only to be shot down by the mayor, that the city’s elite rallied around the extension last year only because it bore the mayor’s imprimatur, that the newspaper editorial pages backed the move after their owners dined with Hizzoner, that the mayor’s people called in nonprofits they’d supported to testify in favor of the law, that the mayor’s law department weighed in in favor of the Council having the right to reverse two referenda—those were mere details, according to this telling.

The Council was driving; Mike just grabbed hold of the bumper.

Are runoffs a waste of time and money?

From the NY Times:

Here is how the primary runoff in New York was supposed to work: To avoid nominating a politically vulnerable fringe candidate for the general election in November, a second election would be conducted between the top two vote-getters if no one received at least 40 percent of the vote.

Here is how it has worked since the first runoff, in 1973, in a city where enrolled Democrats outnumber Republicans by about 6 to 1: More often than not, the citywide candidate who finished first in the primary but failed to win by 40 percent won in the runoff and then went on to easily win the election in November.

This year, too, whoever wins Tuesday’s runoff in the public advocate and comptroller races is virtually assured victory in November.

Still, the city’s Board of Elections will spend about $15 million to mount the runoff, and the four candidates competing in the election can legally spend a total of nearly $8 million. Fewer than 10 percent of registered Democrats are expected to vote.

So the question among some government watchdog groups is whether runoffs, at least in New York, are superfluous.

Letters to the Queens Tribune in response to Halloran hit piece

It's his business

To the Editor:

I've lived in Whitestone for over 40 years and have read the Queens Tribune since it started publishing. I was shocked to see the headline of your Sept 17th issue that reads "Democratic victor vs. Pagan Lord." This has to be the most disgusting, raw, blatant political hit piece I've ever seen. In addition, you go so far as to use a cutesy, flattering picture of Kim alongside a very unflattering photo of Halloran. Wow, guess you couldn't find another photo huh? Who on earth do you think you're kidding? Are you taking direct payments from the Kim campaign? [The answer is YES. - QC]

Let me ask you this; what would you think of a newspaper that had a headline,

"Democratic victor vs. Jew" or
"Democratic victor vs. Muslim"
"Democratic victor vs. Hindu"

Do you have any journalistic integrity? Why don't you tell us about Kim's religion? Because it shouldn't make a difference, that's why! You really should be deeply embarrassed to publish such trash. You owe an apology to your readers and to the people of Queens county for writing such a vile and biased headline. I'm not associated with Halloran or the Republican Party, nor am I a pagan, but his religion, like everybody else's religion, is his business and should not be used against him like a political hammer. This is a simply disgraceful misuse of your ability to publish a local paper. I plan to make some more noise about this. This is the year 2009 and bias based on religion should be a thing of the past.

John LaPorte

You should be fair

To the Editor:

Thank you for the news on Dan Halloran and his religion. Since you seem to think this is so important to the voters give us the religions of everyone who is running for office. I think this column is very biased. It is plain to see who you endorse. Newspapers should be fair and unbiased.

Lucie M. Shannon

Focus on accomplishments

To the Editor:

Last Tuesday night, after it was apparent I had not won the Democratic Primary in District 19, I called Kevin Kim and congratulated him on his victory. I pledged my support to Kevin and told him I would assist him in any way I could. Kevin is intelligent and articulate and is a great candidate for City Council.

With his win in the Democratic Primary, Kim now has to face Republican Dan Halloran on Nov. 3. While I disagree with Dan on many issues, Dan is also intelligent and articulate. I am looking forward to a lively General Election campaign where Kevin and Dan will debate the issues and the people will choose which candidate can best serve them in City Hall. At the end of the day, as a true Democrat, I hope that Kevin, and his Democratic values, will be victorious.

Last week I was appalled at the front page story of the Queens Tribune about Dan Halloran's religion. I may be a little sensitive because my Catholic mother and Jewish father just celebrated their 58th wedding anniversary last week, but the article about Dan's religion was despicable. Since I grew up in a home where my parents practiced different religions, I came to understand that freedom of religion is a fundamental human right. As someone who has studied the U.S. Constitution and the history of our great nation, I have also come to understand that freedom of religion was the basis of the early European settlements of this nation and is one of the fundamental rights of all Americans. How dare anyone claim that one religion is superior to another? That article was shameful!

I hope that such disgusting, sensationalist journalism will cease and allow this campaign to move forward based on the ideology, experience and qualifications of the two candidates. Let the campaign be about overdevelopment, education, ethics in government and services for seniors. It should not be about the religion of the candidates.

It is particularly disturbing that this trash emanated from the press. You should know better! We, as a society, rely on the press to report the news and inform us of what is happening in our world. It is not the duty of the press to chastise and criticize a religion in favor of another religion. As you should know, our right to freedom of the press emanates from the First Amendment of the Constitution. You should read the First Amendment because that same amendment also forms the basis of freedom of religion in our nation.

Steve Behar

Why should we care?

To the Editor:

Though a life-long Democrat, I found your post-primary cover, and the Halloran article, examples of the worst kind of fear-mongering politicking. There was absolutely NOTHING in the article to suggest why anyone should care about Dan Halloran’s religion, however unusual, or how it might influence his performance in office. It was clearly run to instigate animus towards him in otherwise potential voters.

Moreover, if your cover featured Kim in a political context, then the cover picture & headline for Halloran should have, also. If the cover featured Halloran in a religious context, then Kim should have been presented that way, too.

What is his religion? Is he Buddhist? If so, doesn’t that make him a kind of pagan, also? We just don’t usually think of applying the word to a world religion.

Is Kim Christian? If Christian, to what church does he belong? Does it believe that it is the only true faith? Does it believe that anyone who doesn’t accept Jesus as personal savior is going to hell? Does it believe the Jews killed Christ? Does it believe the Catholic church is a false sect?

Or does he have no religion?

I know that Kim is a Gary Ackerman staffer, and your paper is an Ackerman publication, whatever the official legalities might be now. Apparently you have decided to become a campaign organ of one candidate for office. Whether or not he is the best candidate, you have prostituted your journalistic integrity.

For shame.

Cheshire Frager

Is this relevant?

To the Editor:

I am offended by your cover article which labels republican city council candidate Dan Halloran as a pagan lord and a heathen. Your decision to sensationalize Mr. Halloran's personal religious beliefs distracts from any relevant aspects of the council race and goes against the underlying American principle of separation of church and state. Catholicism, Islam or any religion for that matter can be made to seem foreign, but your failure to mention Mr. Kim's religion and choice to focus only on Mr. Halloran's faith and not his policy creates a truly unfair slant.

In your article, "Change has Come: New Faces" you highlight the diversity brought by candidates of various ethnic backgrounds and sexual preferences, but failed to mention Mr. Halloran's unique beliefs as part of the "ever-changing face of the people of Queens." I expect better of the Tribune and feel Mr. Halloran deserves more impartial treatment The two candidates are running for City Council not religious counselor and your reporting should be carried out accordingly.

Dan Schweiger

Illegal signs littering streets

From Staten Island Advance:

Ads for everything from real estate to puppy dogs are illegally pegged to Staten Island's trees, traffic lights, and fences, and in some instances, simply stuck in the ground of public spaces.

Hmmm. You mean like this?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Johnny the poster boy

Somehow I doubt there's an "Alliance for Asian-American Civil Liberty."

But I like the poster nonetheless.

More on Bloomberg's phony crime stats

From Gothamist:

Yesterday we reported on an anti-gay attack that occurred in Hell's Kitchen this past Friday night. WPLJ DJ Blake Hayes (pictured), cabaret and Broadway performer Danny Calvert, and another friend were attacked by a patron of McCoy's bar; they claim the police officers who showed up refused to take their attacker's information, or let them file a claim. They also expressed concern that McCoy's bouncer (who stopped the attack) allowed the attacker back into the bar.

Regarding their alleged negligence, Police Commissioner Kelly’s office has agreed to conduct an investigation.

The Trib: serious journal or intolerant political rag?

From the Times Ledger:

Despite the sensational headlines the story was rather anemic. What it all boiled down to was the fact that Halloran was a believer in the tenets of an ancient and little-known religion here in the Northeast. It is Theodism and is called a pagan religion because it existed long before the birth of Jesus Christ and Christianity. I Googled Theodism. It provided me with much information on the topic. It seems its practitioners believe in pretty much the same principles as all other religions. To wit, be the best you can be, do no harm to your fellow man and leave the world a better place. There doesn’t seem to be anything sensational in that credo.

Curiosity is one of my strong suits, so I called Halloran for an exclusive interview...I questioned Halloran about how and why a nice Irish Roman Catholic young man educated by Jesuits ended up embracing a little-known religion. His reply was he deeply loved and respected and was devoted to his father. He could not understand why God would take away from him his beloved father who was only 52. He was so despondent that one of his mother’s Danish relatives suggested he might find solace in the religion of his mothers ancestors. It was as simple as that and that was more than 20 years ago. There has never been the whisper of a scandal connected with his choice of a religion.

What Halloran did say was he found it rather ironic his involvement with his religion was an issue, especially here in the Flushing area, the cradle of religious freedom, reaching back to the Flushing Remonstrance, which outlined our First Amendment.

In his conversation he said he found it repugnant to think in the 19th District, which is ethnically and religiously rich, that anyone could and would use someone’s faith to attack them.

2nd Ave subway construction setback

From the NY Post:

Construction on the Second Avenue Subway is really making all the local stops.

The $4.5 billion MTA mega-project has suffered yet another setback, this time due to shaky apartment buildings.

MTA crews can't carry out permits for blasting underground rock near the two unstable structures near East 92nd Street until both are shored up, the MTA and city Department of Buildings said yesterday. Both had to be evacuated in June.

While the delay won't push back the subway's overall July 2017 completion date -- which was recently changed from 2015 and originally slated for 2012 -- workers since July have resorted to digging with machinery instead of using faster blasting methods, officials said.

One of the buildings -- 1772 Second Ave. -- has already been stabilized, the MTA said. Tenants returned there several weeks ago.

MTA spokesman Jeremy Soffin called the building conditions "pre-existing."

The buildings were evacuated in a frenzied rush in June.

Tenants scrambled back from vacations and work to grab personal items before they moved in with friends or checked into hotels.

City documents show that the two buildings had structural issues for years. By 2006, one was leaning north by 10 inches, and another had a crumbling facade, records show.

So the long-standing problems were known about, yet new problems were not anticipated by either DOB or MTA? Shouldn't the conditions of these buildings have been addressed before the construction proceeded?

Mike saving jobs left and right

From Mike Bloomberg's 5-Borough Economic Opportunity Plan:

Mike has a plan to get New Yorkers through this recession. His Five Borough Economic Opportunity Plan is designed to maximize every resource the City has to help limit the effects of the recession and create or retain 400,000 jobs for hard working New Yorkers.

From the Daily News:

Three hundred city employees are getting the ax today with more to follow in the coming weeks, as Mayor Bloomberg's budget cuts take a chunk out of the city workforce.

"It says something about who he's running the city for," said Faye Moore, president of Social Service Employees Union Local 371. "We have people with 15 years' [experience] hitting the street."

She said 289 child welfare workers are being laid off from the Administration for Children's Services, even while other city departments are hiring new employees.

Dr. not buying Bloomberg's anti-soda campaign

Good afternoon,

I hope you’re doing well. I recently read a post on your blog titled, “Do What I Say, Not What I Do” where you address Mayor Bloomberg’s hypocrisy towards the New York City Health Department’s “Don’t Drink Yourself Fat” advertisement. I thought you might be interested in a podcast with a response to the ad campaign, from the scientific perspective. Dr. Elizabeth Whelan, President of the American Council on Science and Health, thinks it is irresponsible to pinpoint a single product for America’s obesity problem and thinks that these efforts may be misleading for consumers.

She addresses her views on the podcast below:

Let me know if you have any questions.


Liz Seymour for Dr. Elizabeth Whelan and the American Council on Science and Health

Push to beautify Ridgewood MTA eyesore

From City Council blog:

As the MTA finalizes its Capital Improvement Plan for next five years, Council Member Elizabeth S. Crowley, along with Senator Joseph Addabbo, Assembly Members Catherine Nolan and Michael Miller and community leaders called on the MTA to allow for the creation of much needed temporary green space on the corners of Metropolitan Avenue and Fresh Pond Road. Currently it is the site of an abandoned newsstand and convenience store that has been neglected for over ten years. Plans to develop this area date back to Fiscal Year 2003 and is included in their MTA’s current five-year Capital Plan.

“While we continue to wait for the MTA to finally develop this area, we should be granted the opportunity to beautify this property in the meantime,” said Council Member Elizabeth Crowley. “The thousands of Queens residents who pass daily through this intersection have had to look at the dilapidated condition of this property for over a decade. As the gateway to Ridgewood, this long-time eyesore hurts the surrounding businesses and stifles the area’s economic growth.”

Police car hit by bullet

From NY1:

The search is on for whoever fired the shot that struck a police car in Queens Saturday night.

Police say a single bullet shattered the car's back window around 8 p.m. on Beach Channel Drive in the Rockaways.

Neither of the two officers in the car was injured.

Local residents say violence in the area is on the rise.

"It's a constant thing that happens out here in Rockaway. Every week it's something else, either a shooting or something like this. And the violence needs to be stopped," said one Rockaways resident.

It's still not clear whether the police car was the intended target of the shooting.

Quinn counting on Queens

From the NY Post:

The long knives are out for City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

Emboldened by the results of this month's Democratic primaries, in which five council incumbents were defeated and a sixth held on by a whisker-thin margin, critics of Quinn (right) are assessing whether there's an opening for a coup.

At least four of the five losers were reliable Quinn allies. Tom White (D-Queens), another ally, squeaked through by five votes.

Sources said Brooklyn Democratic leader Vito Lopez, whose relationship with Quinn is strained, is planning to meet with his Bronx counterpart, Carl Heastie, to determine whether they can round up the 26 votes needed to install their own candidate in the speaker's job.

"If she endorses Bloomberg, she's dead," one council member said.

For the moment, Quinn's ace in the hole is the fact that no obvious natural successor has emerged.

At least two council members who might have filled that role, Bill de Blasio and John Liu, didn't seek re-election this year so they could run for higher office.

"You can't beat somebody with nobody," the source said.

"The key thing is having Queens County. That relationship is not going to be dislodged."

50 Cent finally has his Jamaica concert

From the Daily News:

Rapper 50 Cent went back to his roots Saturday, performing for hundreds of thrilled fans in his old Jamaica 'hood and even gave a shout out at the police.

Screams of "I love you Fitty" echoed around the playground next to Public School 40 in Queens as NYPD officers kept an eye out for trouble on the roof of the school and nearby housing complex.

50 Cent, who was born and raised in South Jamaica, Queens, was the headline act at the community festival which had been scheduled for August but was cancelled because of security concerns surrounding the rapper's appearance.

"Next year I'm gonna get to do it on the actual date that I want, when they see this as a successful event they won't give me such a hard time next time," he said.

Bloomberg's latest ticket scam

From Mr. Angry:

1) Traffic enforcement lurks around corner near bus stop

2) Car making turn at corner notices an unmarked car behind speeding up with lights in the grill on

3) Driver pulls into bus stop to let them pass, only to be boxed in and accosted by traffic agents for ’standing’ in the bus stop.

More of this entrapment is what 4 more years will get us.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

More dirty dealings in Council District 19 race

From City Hall:

On July 16, a legal aid worker named Barbara Byrne quietly filed petitions to run as the Working Families Party designee in the district currently represented by Tony Avella. That Byrne was not herself a resident of the district, never opened an account with the Campaign Finance Board or had anything resembling a campaign operation was irrelevant: she was never planning to be on the ballot.

Byrne is in line to be nominated by the WFP for Queens County Supreme Court judgeship at the WFP’s judicial convention this weekend, according to a source with knowledge of the situation...

Byrne, a party loyalist, is unlikely to win the judgeship, given that Queens Democrats are expected to nominate someone else at their judicial convention scheduled for Thursday evening.

But the maneuver allowed the WFP to stay out of a contested Democratic primary—one of the few on which the party was silent, and the only one among that small group in which a competitive general election was expected—and assured that whoever won, the Democratic and WFP support would be unified for the general election. From the outset, the plan was to have Byrne as a placeholder who would be removed through the judicial nomination so that the WFP could have a candidate for November without having one in September.

Byrne did not return calls requesting comment.

Byrne had originally collected 11 signatures in total, via two petition gatherers. One of those, Alex Melman, describes himself as a summer intern for the WFP on his Facebook page. The other, Sarah Abernathy, was described in a New York Times article last fall about the WFP’s efforts fighting the term limits extension as a canvasser, and the WFP campaign finance disclosures with the state Board of Elections show a payment of $120 to her for get-out-the-vote and canvassing on Election Day 2008.

WFP spokesman Dan Levitan declined comment on Byrne or the ballot line in the Council district.

Kim said that he was unaware of the maneuvering by the WFP and was unsure whether he would indeed get the party line.

...Halloran challenged Kim not to take the WFP line, both because of questions about the party’s for profit company, Data and Field Services, and because of the machinations involved in giving Kim the line.

“For someone who talks about the need for reform, it would raise a red flag to accept the nomination of a party that has been shown not to be following campaign finance rules, and whose problems extend nationally, to the scandals surrounding ACORN,” Halloran said. “And the way that he is going to get the line—it was a straw card from the beginning.”

In a nutshell, Queens is screwed

From the Queens Chronicle:

...a fundamental question remains: will Queens residents have to live with fewer but larger local hospitals in the face of declining capital sources from both the public and private sectors?

Contributing to the hospital industry’s financial decline in Queens is an ongoing exodus of elective procedures — which industry executives said account for nearly 40 percent of revenue at healthy hospitals — into Manhattan and Long Island and a growing number of uninsured residents substituting nearby emergency rooms for primary care offices.

“If you have insurance and your insurance is accepted at a number of facilities — you can go almost anywhere that accepts your insurance,” Nemzoff said. “The emergency room is much more prone to picking up patients in their immediate service area, but as far as being admitted by doctors — these doctors practice at multiple hospitals. If the patient wants to go somewhere else they admit them into another hospital.”

Now many are left wondering whether the current system is sustainable.

“Have we and the state done a good enough job of local health planning in the borough of Queens?” asked one top hospital official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “There may be pockets — for example western Queens, or southern Queens and southeastern Queens — where you are very underbedded for the population. But maybe parts of central Queens are overbedded.”

Parkway Hospital owner Dr. Robert Aquino... acknowledged that getting Queens healthcare back on track would be a difficult and costly task, he believes inaction is no longer an option.

“I think Queens is in big trouble,” he said.

Photo from the Times Ledger

Voters should demand R-E-S-P-E-C-T

From Bloomberg Watch:

I’ve said it before but it bears repeating: this election isn’t about Thompson v. Bloomberg — it’s about us — The People v. Bloomberg. Thompson’s slogan 'eight years is enough', doesn’t capture it.

Here's ours: Don’t give your vote to a person who doesn’t respect it.

Ridgewood el station is worst in the city

From the Daily News:

It's official: a dilapidated subway station on the M line in Queens is the worst of the worst.

The Seneca Ave. stop in Ridgewood is in the direst state of disrepair, according to an MTA survey that assessed conditions of stations across the city.

Signs of decay are everywhere: rusting metal, peeling paint and concrete cracks sprouting weeds. There isn't a sign on the platform that hasn't been scratched or painted by graffiti vandals.

Some riders thought conditions are worse at other stops in the 468-station system, but the survey went beyond aesthetics and looked at things like structural stability. It was compiled for the MTA's NYC Transit division by independent engineers who inspected each station, rating stairways, walls, platforms and other components on 5-point scale: 1 being the best, 5 the worst.

At Seneca, 86% of the components were rated 3.5 or higher.

Queens history treated like trash

From the Daily News:

Originally the spinning centerpieces of a gristmill built in Dutch Kills around 1657, the stones are today among the oldest European artifacts in Queens.

In their heyday, they helped drive the economic fortunes of western Queens, but in recent decades the relics have been entombed in a shabby traffic island, with only their tops visible.

When the city Economic Development Corp. began the $52 million Queens Plaza revamp last fall, the traffic island was converted into a construction staging area.

[Richard] Melnick and other local preservationists are furious the stones were kept in close quarters with construction machinery and materials, hidden behind a temporary fence.

"Considering their historical importance, they should have been removed and put in a secure location," Melnick said.

"What if a heavy truck or a Bobcat rolled over one of them? It would snap it in half," he said.

Last week, one of the stones - still cemented in the sidewalk - was directly underneath part of the fence. The stone, which already had a crack in it before work commenced, was haphazardly covered with construction material.

Even worse, the other stone was nowhere to be seen recently, Melnick and other local preservationists said.

Its original sidewalk placement fell in the center of the staging area - a spot that appeared to have been covered with an asphalt patch when Melnick photographed the area a few weeks ago.

The blacktop patch was gone last week but the stone's whereabouts were still unknown.

This is Queens history, so expect it to be manhandled and disregarded.

Bloomberg's DOB picking on disabled elderly man

From the Times Ledger:

Bayside community activist Mandingo Tshaka has been slapped with a $27,400 city fine following a June inspection of his home by the city Department of Buildings. But he said one violation at his house had been corrected, while another was invalid under former city zoning laws.

Tshaka said a DOB inspector showed up at his home on a residential street south of Northern Boulevard June 4 and told him that a complaint had been made that he was running an illegal rooming house. The inspector searched the home, which had been owned by Tshaka’s grandmother, Lillian Ely Selby, since the early 1900s, and took pictures.

But Tshaka told the inspector that he, his aide and two renters lived in the house, which is registered as a one-family home.

“The 1961 [city] zoning resolution makes it clear that you can have two people living in your home, and the third person I have there is my aide,” said Tshaka, who uses a wheelchair. “It’s as-of-right. My house was a hotel, but I called it a way station. I kept the tradition of my grandmother and continued to rent rooms.”

Paul Kerson, Tshaka’s attorney, said Tshaka’s grandmother had converted the home into a rooming house in 1935 under the tenets of 1916 zoning laws, which legalized rooming houses or hotels in residential neighborhoods. In 1961, the city ruled that rooming houses could not be constructed in these neighborhoods, but under grandfathering laws allowed existing structures to remain as long as they were not further altered.

“What I think must have happened is that [the ECB] didn’t believe him,” Kerson said. “The building hasn’t changed since 1935. It’s clear he should not have to pay any fine. This whole thing is outrageous.”

Kerson has appealed to the ECB’s appeals unit on Tshaka’s behalf.

Police seek Woodside gas station robbers

From Fox 5:

A cashier at the Gulf Gas Station on Queens Boulevard in Woodside was forced by two robbers to hand over money.

Police say one of the robbers was carrying a gun.

The robbery happened on Thursday at around 3:30 a.m.

Surveillance video of the incident has been released.

Cops describe the robbers as black males. The suspect who carried the gun is 25-30 years old and was wearing a white hooded jacket, red baseball cap, black jeans and black sneakers. The second suspect was wearing a grey hooded sweatshirt and blue jeans, tan boots and a baseball cap.

The Queens vista

From Restless:

...from near the Hunters Point train stations, one of the most photogenic spots around.

Will have to disagree on this. It was one of the most photogenic spots back when Forgotten-NY took a similar photo in 2004 before it was raped and plundered by developers.

...yet more proof that Queens has more wires, poles, and stuff in general, than just about anywhere else on earth.

And lots more crap!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Carolyn Maloney's husband dies

From NY1:

The husband of Manhattan-Queens Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney died during a mountain climbing expedition in Tibet, according to the representative's office.

Clifton Maloney, 71, a former vice president at Goldman Sachs who later ran a private investment firm, died yesterday afternoon.

It is not known whether he died while climbing or at a campsite.

He is also survived by two daughters.

Well, John?

"On August 27, 2005 John Liu said the following of my brother Craig (who was an Assistant District Attorney in Manhattan)

"Jing is a victim three times over. She is the victim of an abusive ... husband who beat and raped her," Liu said.

Of course no such thing ever occurred and John knew that the whole time because he personally attended my family court hearings and he personally heard the testimony that proved that these were baseless allegations.

There was much testimony as well as evidence even photos were entered into evidence and they were actually stolen from the courtroom. Copies of these photos were found years later and proved beyond any doubt the truth of the matter.

John Liu used my deceased brother's good name to his own personal ends. For ten years my family has remained silent in order to protect the child, but I also have an oblation to give that child his father's good name back and I have asked John Liu for an apology.

He has ignored me.

I supposed I should not be surprised because this is a man who lied about his own father, (who was prosecuted and convicted for Bank Fraud in Manhattan). He has lied about his own mother, and so it should come as no surprise that he would lie about a law enforcement officer in Manhattan.

I continue to call on John Liu to tell the truth."

Doug Kelly

Here is the blog post excerpted in this e-mail.

And here is the NY Post's article about the mother losing custody.

John, you owe this family an apology for your knee-jerk defense of this liar and for helping put this family through sheer hell.

Just because someone's Asian doesn't mean they're telling the truth or are innocent, John. Just ask your father.

What happened to Toby's nose?

Screenshot from a NY1 story about some state peanuts being thrown at Queens hospitals to help them with the overflow of patients.

But the question on everyone's mind is what happened to Toby's nose??

Painting the top of the town

From NY Post:

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants New Yorkers to paint their rooftops white to make buildings cooler and more energy efficient, but the city hasn't painted hundreds of its own buildings.

The Bloomberg administration has long been aware of the advantages of white rooftops. The mayor's much-hyped 2007 environmental plan noted the benefits of the practice, and the city's overhauled building code in 2008 included cool roof requirements for most new buildings and renovations.

But the city still hasn't started painting 1 million square feet of roof space on municipal buildings like homeless shelters, police precincts, fire stations and sanitation garages.

Even so, Bloomberg invited environmental guru Al Gore to appear with him Thursday in Queens to raise awareness about what he said is a relatively simple building makeover. The mayor and former vice president even grabbed rollers and painted part of a roof together.

Quaker Meeting House still needs more $$$

From the Queens Chronicle:

After 315 years, it’s not surprising the landmarked Quaker Meeting House in Flushing needed some repairs. With the exterior work recently finished, the Religious Society of Friends still needs $75,000 for serious interior updates.

Although the Friends group has only around 29 members, they have managed to raise $25,000 to match a grant from the Landmarks Conservancy. But a total of $125,000 is needed to install a modern sprinkler system at the meeting house at 137-16 Northern Blvd. “We are determined to get the money,” said Linda Shirley, who heads the Fundraising Committee.

Members are thrilled at the completed exterior work, which includes a new roof, wooden shingles, Yankee gutters, a few new windows and a restored porch. “It looks like it always did, which is the way it’s supposed to look,” said Wendy Burns, the incoming co-clerk of the Flushing group.

Another welfare program for developers

From the NY Post:

Stalled condo projects and big blue “death fences” may be the order of the day throughout Brooklyn, but that doesn’t mean a community’s quality of life has to suffer.

The City Council is hammering out new legislation that would make it worth a developer’s while to better secure their half-completed projects.

If passed, developers feeling the financial pinch can enroll in a special program run by the city’s Department of Buildings, where all of their permits would be continued if they agree to maintain the safety of their construction sites.

According to current law, construction permits immediately expire if work on the site is suspended for more than 12 months. When they want to begin work again, they have to jump through a series of city hoops to acquire the permits they already had, officials said.

To be approved for the new program, one would have to “notify [the Department of Buildings] when permitted work would be suspended and when it will resume” as well as “submit a detailed plan for the Commissioner’s approval specifying how the safety of the construction site will be maintained while work is suspended or delayed.”

If a developer deviates in any way from their plan, their permits would be immediately rescinded.

And who is going to enforce this if they do deviate from the plan? Will the public get to see the plan? Sounds like yet another welfare program for developers. They may be feeling the pinch, but so is the city. Why are developers getting breaks but Joe Citizen is being forced to open up his wallet more often?

Photo from Pardon Me for Asking