Saturday, October 31, 2009

Mobsters made profit off taxpayers

From the Daily News:

The Bloomberg administration agreed in July to pay a real estate firm almost $46 million for 10 acres of vacant land in the East Bronx - where the city wants to build its long-delayed backup center for 911 operators.

The firm, Hutch Realty Partners LLC, is partly owned by two men, Michael Contillo and Joseph Deglomini, who were indicted in the 1990s for racketeering in a scheme with a reputed mobster, the Daily News has learned.

Hutch Realty quietly bought a key portion of the 10-acre Bronx site in January 2005 for $2 million from the state Urban Development Corp.

That was around the time the NYPD began eying the site as a location for its huge new backup 911 center - known as PSAC 2.

The rest of the proposed PSAC 2 site is on an adjacent 18-acre site that Hutch Realty bought from the state in 2001 for $3.5 million.

Why didn't they just use eminent domain?

Staten Island dump transformed into a park

The City Concealed: Freshkills Park Project from on Vimeo.

In Staten Island they took a dump and made it into a park. In Queens, we take parks and turn them into dumps.

All in the family?

From the Queens Tribune:

State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing) and Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) were instrumental in getting the funding appropriated to the LLC.

Stavisky alluded to F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, which alludes to the "small foul" Flushing River and the adjacent "valley of ashes" - or Willets Point to the rest of us.

"We have the opportunity to clean the contamination and create a sustainable community with residential, commercial, recreational and entertainment complexes," Sen. Stavisky said. "I hope when someone writes about the area again, it will not be as a valley of ashes, but as a Phoenix, the bird that rises from the ashes to begin life again."

Claire Shulman, President of the Flushing Willets Point Corona Local Development Corporation, welcomed the added funds.

First of all, it's an LDC, not an LLC. And an illegally formed LDC under investigation at that. Toby quoting Fitzgerald? Makes me want to gag. Seriously, why don't these reporters connect the dots and explain that Toby's pushing for Claire to get taxpayer money in order to pay Evan? This isn't about cleaning up the Flushing River. It's about cleaning out the treasury and benefiting from 'honest graft'.

Here's someone from the NY Times that seems to understand:

Redevelopment can look easy on paper, but there are always neighborhood concerns, even in a place like Willets Point, a 62-acre industrial shanty town of body shops and scrap yards near Shea Stadium in Queens. The administration viewed it as an area ripe for economic development if the 225 existing businesses could be cleared.

But such ambitions had flummoxed city planners for decades.

No less a builder than Robert Moses had been unable to make room in the area for the 1964 World’s Fair.

Mr. Doctoroff was determined to do better. In 2006 he enlisted the help of Claire Shulman, who had been Queens borough president and had long thought the area had potential as a business, retail and transit hub. She enlisted local business leaders who supported the idea: Queens people fighting to re-envision Queens.

In reality, though, the organization, the Flushing-Willets Point Local Development Corporation, received half its money from the city. And about half the group’s money was spent doing something not allowed under state law: lobbying city officials. The City Council adopted the Bloomberg plan last fall, citing Mrs. Shulman’s efforts.

The group’s lobbying, has led to an investigation by the attorney general’s office. City officials have said they never authorized Mrs. Shulman’s lobbying, which she has disputed.

Avoiding firehouse closures

From the NY Post:

The extreme budgetary shortfall that the city is facing is real and must be addressed, but cutting through the muscle of the FDNY and the NYPD will unnecessarily endanger all of us ("Sharpening the Fire Ax," Oct. 25).

Instead of closing firehouses and cutting the NYPD, the city should eliminate the failing Unified Call Taking system (UCT).

The UCT has a price tag of $1.3 billion, while closing 25 firehouses would only save approximately $30 million.

Considering all the deficiencies of this troubled system, eliminating it would promote, rather than compromise, the safety of all city residents and the firefighters who serve them.

Cpt. Alexander Hagan
Uniformed Fire Officers Association

Animal sacrifices becoming more common

From the NY Post:

An emaciated goat wandering Pelham Bay Park. A pig's head placed on a desolate street near the Green-Wood Cemetery. A dead rooster lying near a tree in Forest Park in Queens.

These bizarre discoveries have popped up with shocking frequency this year, making Big Apple parks look like makeshift sacrificial altars and grazing grounds for livestock left over from religious rituals.

In the last few months, four goats have been found in public places in The Bronx. And a total of six were found in the city in the last year, according to Animal Care and Control. That's on top of 19 reported incidents of animal remains found in parkland, according to the Parks Department.

While authorities and animal-care experts can't say for sure who's behind the menagerie of abandoned beasts and body parts, many people who practice Santeria told The Post it is likely they the remains of Santeria ceremonies.

Bum's the word in Maspeth

From the Times Newsweekly:

During the Oct. 5 meeting at Bethzatha Church of God in Elmhurst, COMET President Rosemarie Daraio told the 104th Precinct’s executive officer, Capt. Raymond DeWitt, and P.O. Thomas Bell of the Community Affairs Unit that vagrants have been occupying Cowbird Triangle, located at the confluence of Hamilton Place, Jay Avenue and Borden Avenue.

According to COMET’s newsletter, residents have also complained of homeless residents occupying another public triangle, the Oliver Hazard Triangle, on the southern side of the Long Island Expressway at the corner of Hamilton Place and Perry Avenue.

Daraio noted that some of the men have been observed hanging their clothes on the fences of the Cowbird Triangle. Their presence in the park, she claimed, has alarmed residents who are now afraid to venture to the location.

“They’ve got to get out of the triangle,” she said. “People feel intimidated. You’ve got to come up with something to deter them.”

Captain DeWitt and Officer Bell noted that the precinct has sent its Conditions Team to visit Cowbird Triangle and spoke with some of the homeless individuals, offering assistance through the city’s Department of Homeless Services. But Bell noted that no police action could be taken to keep the homeless persons out of the park unless the individuals were breaking the law.

“If we see the clothes hanging around the park, we can summons or arrest” them, Bell said. “But being a homeless person is not a crime.”

He went on to note that even in the event a vagrant was arrested for a crime, the chances were good that the person would return to the location upon being released from jail.

Despite the complications, Captain DeWitt indicated that police would continue to monitor the situation and take steps to persuade the homeless individuals to leave the public parks.

Tree champs live in Brooklyn

From the NY Times:

Big trees grow in Brooklyn. In fact, two of the state’s biggest.

Two trees in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden — a 97-year-old Kansas hawthorn and a Carolina holly — have become official members of the state’s Big Tree Register, which keeps track of the largest (as opposed to the oldest) trees of their species on record, as defined by a formula that includes the height, circumference and foliage of the tree.

These are the first such big trees in New York City, though over all there are approximately 150 “champion” trees that have been identified all over the state. Invasive species, like the Norway maple, are not eligible for the registry. “It’s a moral decision we are making,” said Suzanne Mattei, regional director for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, which runs the register. “Invasive species choke out everything else.”

State registers cooperate with the National Register of Big Trees, which records the largest trees in the country.

A Democracy Tale

A Democracy Tale from Najib Aminy on Vimeo.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Perv hanging out at LIC school

From the Daily News:

Parents of children who attend a Long Island City elementary school are on high alert after a sex offender moved in across the street.

Demetrius Edwards, who pleaded guilty to the 1999 rape at gunpoint of a 13-year-old Brooklyn girl, was recently released from prison. He moved to his parents' apartment, about 100 feet from St. Raphael School on 37th St.

Edwards, 30, moved out of the building last week, according to his father, William. But parents and school volunteers said he still lingers around the building during school hours, with his parents' dog - an attempt, they fear, to lure the interest of children.

And speaking of perverts, they may pose a danger on Halloween.

A child was also almost abducted in Astoria this week.

UHO is not the way to go

MYFOXNY.COM - Every day, generous New Yorkers drop money into the jugs at tables from the United Homeless Organization, also known as UHO.

The Shame unit has investigated UHO before. Now, Arnold Diaz is back with more questions about where the donations are going, questions the charity's founder, Steven Riley, wouldn't answer.

In fact, when Arnold confronted Riley in Union Square for some answers, things got ugly and physical.

The problem of homelessness in New York City is worse now than at any point since the Great Depression. If you would like to donate to organizations that provide direct services such as shelter, food, and clothing refer to these links and phone numbers:







Dutch Kills funding headscratcher

From the Queens Gazette:

A $20,000 state grant to Dutch Kills, delivered by state Senator George Onorato, came next. Walsh said again, as he had last month, that he sought suggestions about the best way to spend the funds and thus appear worthy of similar grants in the future. He held out a small shopping bag as a suggestion box and pleaded for written entries. Time is fairly short: the suggestions have to be acted upon and the money spent on them before next spring.

Why is the senator giving taxpayer money to a group that doesn't have a plan for its use? Doesn't that mean they don't need it? Why were other groups with stated projects passed up?

Bloomberg's economic record is mediocre

From the Gotham Gazette:

Boom and bust still characterize the local economy, and despite many ways in which Mayor Michael Bloomberg's tenure has been an improvement over Guiliani's record, his economic leadership similarly has fallen short in ensuring that the benefits of growth are more broadly shared. He has refused to advocate for better wages, missed a major opportunity to curtail the use of property tax breaks and hasn't re-oriented the investment of city economic development resources away from real estate toward human capital.

First, a few indicators of how the local economy has changed.

* During the mayor's time in office, the city has seen a net gain of 107,000 private sector jobs. However, all of this net gain occurred in the not-for-profit sector (educational, health and social services).

* The for-profit private sector lost a net of 2,600 jobs from the middle of the previous recession to the middle of the current one.

* There has been a pronounced shift within the for-profit sector, with the city losing middle-wage jobs in information, manufacturing and wholesale trade, and gaining jobs in lower-paying industries such as food service, retail, and arts and entertainment.

* In recent decades, inflation-adjusted family incomes at the peak of the cycle almost always exceeded those at the high point of the previous cycle. Not this time, and not in New York City: Family incomes in 2008 were no higher than in 2000, the peak of the previous cycle.

* The typical worker in New York City saw a 5 percent drop in inflation-adjusted hourly pay from 2002 to 2008. Meanwhile, the bulk of income gains accrued to the wealthiest 5 percent of the city population.

Trying to light a political spark in St. Albans

From the NY Times:

“So much for the Obama effect,” said Rance Huff, Mr. Comrie’s chief of staff. Mr. Comrie had just declared victory at the Guy R. Brewer United Democratic Club, the headquarters of the Queens party establishment, where paid campaigners, impatient for their cash, raised such a ruckus that someone called the police.

Later, though, Mr. Comrie’s staff members acknowledged that the challengers had forced them to campaign harder than ever before — and that in the process, they had gotten such an earful that the councilman planned to overhaul the way he communicated with the public.

“I was not happy with the level of reaction I got from people who felt they didn’t have a connection to the office,” Mr. Comrie said. Some, he said, had asked for help and had been disappointed, but many more simply knew little about their councilman.

The race even roused Archie Spigner, 81, the area’s political éminence grise who was elected its councilman in 1974 and served until 2002, when Mr. Comrie, his protégé, succeeded him. Mr. Spigner now concedes that the Brewer club needs to bring in a new generation, though he is not sure how to find young people who care about politics.

Queens Civic Congress Candidate Survey responses

Queens Civic Congress, an umbrella organization for more than 110 community and neighborhood groups representing tenants, co-op and condo owners and homeowners living in every part of Queens, released its 2009 Candidates Survey on October 9. Responses get posted as soon as practicable after receipt. Starting October 23, Queens Civic Congress will also post a list of candidates and whether or not they responded to the survey and link the responses to each survey. The responses will also be shared with the news media and our member organizations.

2009 Queens Civic Congress Candidates Survey Responses (as of October 27, 2009):

Bill Thompson (Mayor)
Bill de Blasio (Public Advocate)
Alex Zablocki (Public Advocate)
Joseph Mendola (City Comptroller)
Dan Halloran (City Council, District 19)
Kevin Kim (City Council, District 19)
Evergreen Chou (City Council, District 20)
Yen Chou (City Council, District 20)
Peter Koo (City Council, District 20)
Bob Friedrich (City Council, District 23)
Mark Weprin (City Council, District 23)
Karen Koslowitz (City Council, District 29)
Scherie Murray (City Council, District 31)

No Response:
Mike Bloomberg (Mayor)
John Liu (Comptroller)
Robert Hornak (Queens Borough President)
Helen Marshall (Queens Borough President)
Julissa Ferreras (City Council, District 21)
Lynn Serpe (City Council, District 22)
Peter Vallone (City Council, District 22)
Richard Burns (City Council, District 23)
Dan Dromm (City Council, District 25)
Mujib Rahman (City Council, District 25)
Angelo Maragos (City Council, District 26)
James Van Bramer (City Council, District 26)
Leroy Comrie (City Council, District 27)
Thomas White, Jr. (City Council, District 28)
Lynn Schulman(City Council, District 29)
Elizabeth Crowley (City Council, District 30)
Thomas Ognibene (City Council, District 30)
James Sanders (City Council, District 31)
Frank Gulluscio (City Council, District 32)
Eric Ulrich (City Council, District 32)

No guarantee on local zoning for new high school

From the Daily News:

Many residents hope the nearly 2,000 new seats at the $158 million Metropolitan Avenue Campus will alleviate severe overcrowding in local schools - provided their kids can get in. The campus is to house a locally zoned high school, a combined district middle and high school and a special education program.

A community meeting to discuss the campus, at 90-30 Metropolitan Ave., was held last week. But no decision as to which schools will occupy the state-of-the-art campus will be made until early next year, city education officials said.

"The purpose here was to have a local high school that the kids of the neighborhood could go to," said City Councilwoman Melinda Katz (D-Forest Hills). "There is an overcrowding problem in the area."

But the project has faced several delays, including some initial community opposition and the discovery of contaminated groundwater. That water was removed about two years ago, before construction began, education officials said.

However, the biggest concern has been to ensure that at least one of the high schools is locally zoned, Katz said.

That's a battle she and others are still waging, as zoning lines aren't expected to be finalized until the end of the year. City officials said that a proposed plan will be available for community comment sometime next month.

"I want to make sure the kids we started fighting for are zoned for it," said Community Education Council District 24 President Nick Comaianni, whose district begins across the street from the site.

Walk on the wide side in Woodhaven

From Lost in the Ozone:

I kept my camera at the ready while I smoked another cigarette, and much to my surprise up through the grating came a timid, docile looking opossum. He stood there long enough to let me take a couple of photos and then down the hole he went again.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Friends of Kevin Kim

Statement from Steven Stites, Spokesman, Dan Halloran for City Council Regarding Kevin Kim Consultant Michael Tobman:

“At what point does Kevin Kim have to answer for the questionable conduct of his staff and the people he has chosen to run his campaign? The unfounded name-calling and sleazy tactics have escalated into destroying Halloran signs on private property, moving from dirty politics to outright criminality are just a part of a pattern that has emerged since Kevin Kim unexpectedly defeated all of the more mainstream centrist Democrats in the primary on September 15.

We know Kevin Kim hired Michael Nussbaum of Multimedia/The Queens Tribune paying huge sums to do his hit pieces against Dan, including spurious attacks on Dan Halloran's heritage and faith. We know Kim was involved with a ‘bait and switch’ backdoor endorsement with the scandal-plagued Working Families Party, which is under investigation in multiple jurisdictions and is tied to the national scandals with ACORN. Add to that Kim's attempt to hijack the Independence Party's line by an ‘opportunity to ballot’ petition in August, which was fortunately thrown out by the Board of Elections because it was ‘riddled with improprieties in the signatures gathered.’ It’s a never-ending list.

Now we find out that Kevin Kim's newest advisor is none other than Michael Tobman. Tobman is an infamous lobbyist known for his Karl Rove-style gangster campaigns. He has been called by the Daily Gotham the ‘Sleaziest Lobbyist in New York,’ and he has admitted to violating a series of ethics and lobbying laws. These are the people being employed to advance the Kim campaign.

Tobman is infamous for his brand of dirty politics. Nussbaum, another consultant to Kim, is a convicted felon, dubbed the infamous ‘bag man’ for Queens Borough President Donald Manes by the New York Times for his arrangement of a bribe for a public official.

Voters in Northeast Queens want to know, Kevin Kim: Why you surround yourself with sleazy hucksters like Tobman and criminals like Nussbaum? And why do you insist on using their political playbook of dirty politics and mudslinging rather than addressing the issues?”

Speaking of sleazy hucksters...check out that endorsement photo. Looks like all the Donald Manes cronies have lined up behind Kim.

Queens visitor hits jackpot, pays most of it to taxman

From the Daily News:

No joke: visiting your mother-in-law can really pay off!

Just ask Pennsylvania resident Mi Hyun Moon, who bagged a $5 million jackpot while in Queens with her husband to see his mother.

She chose to receive a lump-sum payment of $2.8 million or $1.8 million after taxes.

So she gets less than half of what she won.

This state is so sad...

Another reason to vote for Halloran

If you enjoyed the tenure of Mario Cuomo, then by all means vote for Kevin Kim. But if you are like 95% of the Queens people I know who refer to him as Mario F$@%#& Cuomo, then you have to believe that this helps Halloran.

Remembering Nancy

My Memoir of Historian Nancy Cataldi
by Michael Perlman

October 29, 2009 marks the one year passing of Historian Nancy Lucia Cataldi, who was a friend, a community leader, dedicated preservationist, curator, author, and professional photographer. I learned about her passing while checking my e-mail the following morning, and was additionally shocked since no ailments were known, and she was only 55. Despite her relatively young age, her name is attributed with many great achievements.

Nancy Cataldi was the President of the Richmond Hill Historical Society since 1999, and on behalf of neighborhoods residents and borough-wide preservationists, she heroically advocated for the creation of a Richmond Hill Historic District, which first began in 1997 with her role as a founding member. The Richmond Hill Historic District is essential to commemorate, preserve, and revitalize one of the most significant meccas of Victorian homes countrywide. However, the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission had their own agenda, and repeatedly rejected calendaring the District for a public hearing, without quoting any provisions of the Landmarks Law. She related to all generations by organizing educational programs for children, community events, and parties.

I first befriended Nancy in 2002, while working on a Trylon Theater feature story for my journalism class. I interviewed her, admired her heartfelt responses, and how she dedicated her time to neighborhood causes beyond her immediate vicinity. She submitted my paper into the archives of the Richmond Hill Historical Society, and in Oct 2005, she participated in my rally/press conference to preserve the 1939 World's Fair-inspired Trylon Theater in Forest Hills. In May 2006, we participated a rally to preserve the 1847 St. Saviour's Church and its historic land in Maspeth, and in April 2007, we participated in the Sunnyside Gardens Historic District LPC Hearing, which was successfully designated. We were also board members of the Queens Preservation Council. I recall participating in her March 2006 Richmond Hill rally/press conference, to call for Historic District status. It was well-attended by not only locals, but by borough-wide preservationists. Speakers included Nancy, other organizational leaders, and elected officials. What a close-knit feeling of community!

In 1994, Nancy purchased a 1905 Victorian, which she lovingly restored, and her home received one of the first Queensmark awards. Some of her other profound achievements include writing "Images of America: Richmond Hill," which was co-authored by Historian Carl Ballenas, and one of her two books where history was showcased in a creative manner. In conjunction with the Richmond Hill Historical Society, she achieved Individual Landmark status for the Richmond Hill Republican Club on December 17, 2002. That same year, she achieved State & National Register (of Historic Places) status for the Church of The Resurrection, Richmond Hill's first church, which made it eligible for grants to restore its architectural features. She also created the Richmond Hill Museum. On June 20, 2003, the mostly intact RKO Keith's Richmond Hill Theatre became part of the State Register of Historic Places. She was also the historian of Maple Grove Cemetery, which became part of the National Register, thanks to her diligence. In 2005, she was granted a Grassroots Preservation Award by the Historic Districts Council, where she served on the Board of Directors. Practically a month prior to her passing, she announced on NY1 News that she will be the curator for an Italian American exhibit in Little Italy.

I greatly commend the October 24th ceremony which co-named the intersection of 109th St & 86th Ave in Richmond Hill, "Nancy Cataldi Way." The dedication rekindled the devotion and unity of her prior gatherings, and it was touching how her family was presented a NY City Council Proclamation, complemented by performances of Sacred songs and students of P.S. 66 reciting her poetry. It is important for us to remember and continue to fulfill the legacy of Nancy Cataldi, in order for her legacy be fulfilled by future generations. Now it is imperative that the Landmarks Preservation Commission realize the vision of Nancy Cataldi and her followers, and the authenticity of a Victorian neighborhood that's few and far between, by designating a section of Richmond Hill a Historic District.

We lost one of our city's "greats," and an emptiness fills our hearts, but may her spirit live on. Let's continue to be educated by her teachings, take precedence, and honor a devoted community leader and diverse, remarkable individual. For more information on the life of Nancy Cataldi, and to join the Richmond Hill Historical Society, please visit

Michael Perlman
Rego-Forest Preservation Council, Chair
Four Borough Preservation Alliance Corp, Queens VP

For more on the designation of Nancy Cataldi Way, visit Lost in the Ozone.

We're stuck with Quinn as speaker for 4 more years

From Chelsea Now:

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s blink-and-you-missed-it endorsement of mayoral candidate William Thompson just eight days before the election should be enough for Council Democrats to deliver her back to the top spot, sources said.

“The speaker’s leadership in the City Council is secure; it was never in jeopardy,” acknowledged Brooklyn Councilmember Letitia James, a strident voice against the legislative overturning of term limits that Quinn helped engineer last year. “An endorsement is an endorsement, despite its tepidity. At least [Quinn] mentioned his name, and even went further and added two additional sentences,” she quipped of the unenthusiastic thumbs-up, which came during a question-and-answer session with reporters following a press conference on healthy eating in city schools. “So we’ll accept it, and we’ll run with it, and we look forward to the next four years with her as our leader.”

The back and forth between Quinn and Thompson helps explain why even her staff seemed confused as to the endorsement’s timing, with one Council employee intimating last week that the announcement would come before the weekend.

Still, the last-minute tip of the cap should be enough to boost Quinn, regardless of any lingering enmity between her, Thompson and Council Democrats. “I’ve spoken to a number of members, and I believe I speak for a majority of members here in this body,” James said. “Her leadership is secure.”

5¢ deposits for bottled water start Saturday

From the NY Times:

Starting Saturday, the strapped New York State government will be able to start collecting tens of millions of dollars from deposits on bottled water, after a federal judge’s ruling.

My advice is to drink tap water. Much of the bottled water is tap water anyway. Buy a reusable water bottle and take it with you. Save some cash.

Rose garden to be named after Oats

From the Queens Tribune:

A tribute to former Queens Tribune editor and Flushing Meadows Corona Park activist David Oats will rest in the heart of the Park and Borough that drove most of his activism.

The Parks Department, a City agency familiar with Oats' activism, and Borough President Helen Marshall disclosed the proposed rose garden, located between the Queens Museum and Queens Theatre. It will feature upgraded plantings and benches, as well as a plaque commemorating Oats, all in the shadow of the New York State Pavilion, a structure he spent four decades defending.

"It's something really monumental," said Oats' widow Corinne. She received word of the honor while driving and had to pull over to regain her composure.

"I know that David is smiling in heaven. I don't know if 'thank you' is enough," she said.

Oats spent four decades advocating for the protection and improvement of the borough's parks. He was founder and president of the Flushing Meadows Corona Park World's Fair Association, with Robert Moses as its first chair.

Closed hospital saga ain't over yet!

From the Times Ledger:

A federal bankruptcy judge has yet to approve the sale of St. John’s and Mary Immaculate hospitals to Guttman Realty and could instead reopen the bidding process for the two sites owned by the bankrupt and shuttered Caritas Health Care, according to Dan Andrews, a spokesman for Queens Borough President Helen Marshall.

“The judge is not totally happy with the bid winner,” Andrews said. “It’s possible the whole process could be reopened.”

Brooklyn Bankruptcy Court Judge Carla E. Craig was slated to approve or deny the $26.625 million sale Oct. 22, but instead ordered a delay on the decision, Andrews said.

Craig’s office would not comment on the decision this week.

Marshall’s office expressed concerns about Brooklyn-based Guttman Realty’s history.

Joshua Guttman, owner of Guttman Realty, and his son, Jack Guttman, were charged with 434 counts of failure to maintain privately owned waterfront property after a 10-alarm fire broke out in 2006 at one of Guttman’s Brooklyn properties, the Greenpoint Terminal Market.

Commuter vans causing havoc

From the Times Newsweekly:

City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley announced that she was working with COMET to host a news conference to press the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) to take action against commuter van operators who are illegally picking up passengers through the streets of Maspeth and Woodside.

The legislator said her office is organizing a press conference scheduled for later this month to bring attention to the problem; as previously reported, COMET has been petitioning the TLC and the city Department of Transportation to take enforcement action against the owners of commuter vans observed conducting business in the area.

“We will act to prove that the vans are breaking the law,” Crowley said.

Daraio noted that the commuter vans are permitted to service the Board 4 area (which includes Elmhurst) to supplement bus and train service. The vans, however, are not permitted to pick up or drop off passengers in the confines of Boards 2 and 5.

The civic president added that some operators have been observed refusing to pick up certain passengers in the community based on their ethnicity.

Since the Times Newsweekly neglected to mention who is operating the illegal pick up services and who is being discriminated against, I'll tell you.

These are Asian car services and they only pick up other Asians. Many of them only have Chinese writing on them.

Why were these services sanctioned in CB4 when that district has some of the best public transportation in the borough? Also why were there no hearings about it?

People leaving NY City & State in droves

From the NY Post:

New Yorkers are fleeing the state and city in alarming numbers -- and costing a fortune in lost tax dollars, a new study shows.

More than 1.5 million state residents left for other parts of the United States from 2000 to 2008, according to the report from the Empire Center for New York State Policy. It was the biggest out-of-state migration in the country.

The vast majority of the migrants, 1.1 million, were former residents of New York City -- meaning one out of seven city taxpayers moved out.

What's worse is that the families fleeing New York are being replaced by lower-income newcomers, who consequently pay less in taxes.

Overall, the ex-New Yorkers earn about 13 percent more than those who moved into the state, the study found.

But they will be replaced with a million more vibrant, diverse, low wage workers by 2030. Doesn't that count for something? Hey check this out from the NY Post:

If he wins a third term, Mayor Bloomberg promised yesterday to transform the city so it'll have the best public schools in the nation by 2013, a far lower crime rate, better mass transit and more waterfront and park options than ever.

Eight days before Election Day, Bloomberg outlined a vision for the future that focused on key projects and quality-of-life initiatives undertaken during his first two terms, from completing the No. 7 subway train to the Far West Side to opening two miles of new parkland along the Manhattan side of the East River.

Yet more parks for Manhattan, eh? How are you going to do all this with a shrinking tax base and the impending collapse of the commercial real estate market, financial genius?

Bye, Hiram

From the NY Times:

With statewide elections a year away, the Queens Democratic Party will take the unusual step on Thursday of announcing its support for a primary challenger to embattled State Senator Hiram Monserrate, who was convicted of a misdemeanor assault charge two weeks ago.

José R. Peralta, 37, an assemblyman from Jackson Heights who is considered one of the party’s rising stars, said he would announce his decision to run for the seat whether or not Mr. Monserrate, a fellow Democrat, resigned or was expelled. And Mr. Peralta will enjoy the backing of the Queens Democratic Party, whose leader, Representative Joseph Crowley, said he would unveil his endorsement during the party’s pre-election dinner.

It is extremely rare for a party to seek to unseat one of its own incumbents, even those dogged by scandal. Mr. Crowley’s move against Mr. Monserrate — the political equivalent of an excommunication — reflects the growing frustration among many Democratic officials with Mr. Monserrate, who has rebuffed calls that he resign.

“I’ve had enough,” Mr. Crowley said in an interview about his decision. “And it’s not just me. I think the community has had enough. José Peralta has considerable support within this district and is an accomplished member of the Assembly.”

Photo from the Daily News

Wallowing in a pig sty

From Street Socialite:

Isn't it horrible when you walk down a street and you see nasty dirty garbage all over the place? I don't think I have ever seen it like this though. There are three things that anger me the most about this situation.

Why do we pay so much money when
1. no one picks up the garbage,
2. we have only one trashcan every six blocks in queens and in other busy areas of New York
3. the residents of New York City are so disgusting.

I can't understand why people would throw so much garbage on the floor. I'm no tree hugger but how could you throw your trash around a tree. Something that gives you air to breathe, something that can make the ugliest places look so beautiful, or just a piece of life that has so many purposes to us. I walked down the street of Junction Blvd. in disgust that day. I was ashamed to live in NYC.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Seek and learn the truth

Michael Bloomberg v. The People of New York City: The Spin v. The Facts

A must read for anyone who cares about the truth. A special publication by Fed Up New Yorkers.

Violating campaign finance laws in broad daylight

Kim voter registration drive done by a nonprofit -- the Korean American Voters Council -- in violation of Campaign Finance Board laws (on Sept 26-27 at Citifield).

This is their description online:

“As a strict non-partisan non-profit organization, KAVC does not endorse any particular party or candidate. It is our responsibility to educate the voters on voting rights and procedures and let the voters decide who to vote for themselves.”

Hate to say we told you so, but....

From the NY Times:

Roofs and windows that leak whenever it rains.

Heating and air-conditioning units that can’t quite heat or cool the entire building.

Balconies with flaking concrete and wobbly railings.

These kinds of complaints have become more and more common in recent months, according to lawyers and engineers who represent owners of sleek new condominium units across the city.

They say the wave of development in New York City that started in 2004 and crested in mid-2007 has resulted in a wave of accusations about defective construction and building design.

Lawyers at several firms said that the volume of condo defect work had doubled in the last year, adding up to dozens of buildings with construction problems. In most cases, the condo owners hire lawyers to add muscle to their complaints, in the hope of getting the necessary work done. In a few instances they have filed suits. Lawyers say that condo owners are reluctant to talk about the defects in their buildings, fearful that publicity will decrease the value of their properties.

Water leaks and climate control problems top the list of complaints. Many of the recently built glass towers are especially prone to temperature issues, because air-conditioning units are too small to combat the punishing summer sun, and heating systems can’t make up for a lack of insulation during the cold months.

But lawyers and engineers said that they had also come across buildings with more serious defects that violate the city’s building code. The most common code violation involves inadequate fire-stopping components — building materials that are used to fill empty spaces where fire or smoke can spread between floors and apartments.

Howard L. Zimmerman, an architect whose firm is checking about 35 new condo buildings for construction problems, said that his workers had found fire-stopping violations in about a third. He said his firm has clients in buildings of five to 300 units, throughout Manhattan and in Brooklyn and Queens.

We warned you time and again that the "luxury" condos being built are crap. We were accused of jealousy. Yes, we are jealous of you folks who live in overpriced firetrap shitboxes.

Have fun in court.

Bloomberg uncomfortable in Queens

From the NY Times:

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg looked like he couldn’t get wait to get out of Howard Beach, Queens, soon enough. Former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani couldn’t stop grinning from ear to ear.

That was how it went Sunday, when the two men who have ruled New York City for the last 16 years marched side by side in the Howard Beach Columbus Day Parade.

The conditions were hardly ideal: It was raining. It was a windy and biting 46 degrees. And the big Giants-Saints football game was about to start.

Mr. Bloomberg, glum-faced, did not look happy for most of the route. But with Election Day just around the corner, he had little choice but to make an appearance in a heavily Italian community that he hopes to win resoundingly en route to a third term.

As for Mr. Giuliani, who was wearing a Yankees (what else?) baseball cap, his reaction was more like, What rain? “I am very, very happy to be here in Howard Beach on this beautiful day to celebrate Columbus and to celebrate the community — a wonderful community that I always felt a great deal of fondness and closeness to.”

The never ending joke of affordable housing in NYC

From Economic Policy Journal:

The city says a low-income household is one earning less than 80 percent of the median income of $37,000 (by the way, if this is a relativistic definition based on a sliding scale, it's possible for a household to qualify as low-income making $150,000 if the median income is $200,000). The Furman Center at NYU says an apartment is affordable if it costs no more than 30 percent of a family's income. But what do the people say?

The people say all kinds of things about affordability. Some people are thrifty and won't spend more than 20 percent of their income on housing. Some prefer to spend more of their income on housing than on other monthly expenses and will spend 40 percent. Some think it's more "reasonable" to spend more if they conclude they're getting a safer housing experience, others spend less when they find their housing options to be inconvenient to their lifestyles. There's no right or wrong answer when it comes to individual perceptions of affordability... unless you happen to work in the mayor's office or on the campus of NYU.

Public housing programs and "affordable" housing regulations are a disaster. They punish and reward at random, they suppress profits and leech taxes out of private wealth that could be used to maintain and expand the supply of ALL private goods and services, including private housing, and they violate economic law in a tragic race-to-the-bottom. The more housing resources and wealth in general under control of the State and Michael Bloomberg, the less housing resources and wealth in general will be available to you, me and everyone else to do as we prefer with it.

Keep in mind, whereas the private sector does everything it can to try to promote the kind of quality, convenience, security and accessibility that maintain and drive property prices higher, it is the stated policy aim of governments everywhere to drive property prices and values lower. And while it is the competition of the marketplace which is the only phenomenon capable of actually achieving the government's aims (lower real property values), the government will nevertheless achieve one of its goals (lower nominal property prices) by inviting in all the crime and decrepitude normally found in government-owned ghettos the world-round, and spreading this social malice as far and wide as it is able to do so.

So, in a nutshell, Bloomie, you blew it. Your pursuit of "affordable" housing for the benighted people of NYC will forever remain elusive, but your success in visiting more stagnation, rot and hardship on those same poor people will indeed be great and remembered forever!

The U.N. is investigating affordable housing in NYC.

Hamilton Beach still bracing for the storm

From the Daily News:

In Hamilton Beach, a little rain makes for some major mayhem.

Rain and high winds caused flooding last weekend on many streets in the southern Queens neighborhood that abuts JFK Airport. But on Davenport Court, flooding is a year-round problem, rain or shine.

Newcomers to Hamilton Beach, which is now officially part of Howard Beach, soon learn that to live on this quiet street they need a good set of wading gear and must consult tide charts. The proximity to Jamaica Bay causes the street to flood as often as 14 days a month during high tide.

Margarita Bravo, 49, a flight attendant for Delta Airlines, has spearheaded efforts to repair a damaged duct pipe that should be draining water from the street into the adjacent canal. The last time the pipe was repaired was 10 years ago, she said.

Now, at the urging of City Councilman Eric Ulrich, the city Department of Environmental Protection has issued a work order to begin repairs this month.

Despite their troubles, many of the residents in this tight-knit community refuse to leave. Gendron believes this to be one of the few remaining places in New York City where everyone knows their neighbor.

That's why the city is dragging its feet in fixing your issue. They'd rather replace you with the tweeded who don't complain and vote the right way. Every middle class neighborhood that was a nice, quiet, safe place to live even during the bust years of the 1970s has been transformed into a quasi-ghetto over the past 8 years via neglect or intentional overdevelopment. The excuse for not installing new sewers has been "the city has no money" even though Manhattan projects have never been turned down and we seem to have hundreds of millions of dollars to steal property at Willets Point. When the worst of the flooding happened we had several billion dollars in budget surplus.

Vote Bloomberg in again for more of the same. He even promised to stay the course. You can't say you don't know what you are getting.

Queens' very own illegal alien terrorist

From the Village Voice:

A former Queens car dealer -- who was once written up in the Daily News for risking his life to save a woman who had been kidnapped by an angry taxi driver -- was charged today with attempting to provide weapons, supplies, and funds to the terrorist organization Hezbollah.

Patrick Nayyar, a 45-year-old Indian immigrant who has been living in the country illegally for more than a decade, was caught on tape telling an FBI informant posing as a member of Hezbollah that he was going to sell him guns, ammunition, vehicles, and bullet proof vests. Nayyar also provided the informant with a hand-gun, ammunition, and a pick-up truck, under the pretense that the items would go to Hezbollah in Lebanon...

I feel so fortunate to live in Bloomberg's Vibrant! Diverse! Sanctuary City!

Teachers & Thompson vs. Bloomberg

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Welcome to Bloombergia

From the Village Voice:

Michael "Money Bags" Bloomberg managed to spend $18.6 million on his campaign in just the past three weeks, according to campaign records released this afternoon.

That's more than $37,000 an hour, or $900,000 a day!

In all, he's spent more than $82 million, putting him on course to dish out more than $100 million in his race for a third term.

The Mayor's office has released his new plan for NYC:

Crime up in Queens parks

From the NY Post:

Crime is up in 20 of the city's biggest parks over the last year, including three in Queens, according to NYPD data.

The number of major crimes counted in the 20 big parks rose by 8 percent, to 197, from July 2008 to June 2009, the records show.

Grand larceny -- theft of property worth more than $1,000 -- was the top crime, occurring 101 times. Robbery came in second, with 43 incidents.

Three of the largest increases in crime occurred in Queens.

The total number of crimes in Cunningham Park skyrocketed to 29 from July 2008 to June 2009. It had only one in the preceding year.

Cops say the number of crimes in the park fell to zero after an arrest in July linked to car break-ins.

During the same period, the number of crimes in the 255-acre Flushing Meadows Corona Park spiked 31 percent, to 64, and crimes in Alley Pond Park about doubled, to 17.

Erin go blah

From the Daily News:

Irish civic groups say a growing number of Irish have come to New York in the last year, in what some call a new Irish diaspora.

The Emerald Isle Immigration Center says there has been a fourfold increase in the number of calls from people looking to come to New York for the first time, or to return here after going home to Ireland when the economy was booming from 1995-2007.

The center's director, Siobhan Denehy, said the center's two locations - in Woodside, Queens, and the Woodlawn section of the Bronx - get a combined 80 inquiries a month from Irish clients, not counting Web site hits.

The Irish government recently reported that for the first time since 1995, the country of 4.5 million people has seen more people going than coming.

"There is no question that Ireland's desperate economic situation has brought lots more people to our center," said Brian O'Dwyer, a prominent New York lawyer and chairman of the immigration center. "For the first time in many years, people are showing up at our doorstep that have left Ireland in search of work."

Newly arrived Irish immigrants are difficult to capture in the annual census surveys. Census figures for 2008 estimate there were 2,649 Irish-born residents in Brooklyn, compared with 1,469 in 2007. In Manhattan, there were 3,760 Irish-born in 2008, compared with 3,101 in 2007.

The figures don't reflect how many more Irishmen are working illegally, hoping for a green card.

A Bronx bricklayer who arrived a few years ago said there has been a flood of Irish people coming, with men working as carpenters, construction workers and painters and women as bartenders, waitresses and nannies.

Given the struggling economy, it's no picnic here either.

The married father of two said laborers compete with Mexican and Brazilians for construction work.

Now you know why Bloomberg wants an Irish soccer field.

How NOT to publicize your borough

"Of course the folks at

Queens Economic Development Corporation
Queens Tourism Council
Queens Borough Hall
120-55 Queens Blvd, Room 309
Kew Gardens, NY 11424

could not find Rockaway with a map...

From their website.

Notice the map is of EAST ROCKAWAY in NASSAU County and they think LIC is a nearby 'hood."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bloomberg shitting a brick over turnout

From the NY Times:

Recalling the record-low turnouts in last month’s primary and runoff, Mr. Speiller exhorts Bloomberg volunteers to shift into overdrive. “Our efforts have been and will continue to be the most expansive and effective grass-roots operation this city has ever seen,” he said in a blog post dated Friday. “Tonight we will knock on our 1,500,000th door, make our 550,000th volunteer phone call and hand out literature at our 4,000th transit stop and high traffic location — and if you think that’s impressive, you haven’t seen anything yet!”

With the mayor leading in public opinion polls by 16 percentage points or more, most New Yorkers might think he has nothing to worry about. But elections have been lost — most notably David N. Dinkins’s 1993 re-election race — because people who insisted to pollsters that they supported a candidate ultimately did not bother to vote.

And a number of political analysts say that a predicted record-low turnout next Tuesday may jeopardize Mr. Bloomberg’s projected double-digit victory margin and even deliver him a third term with the lowest total vote received by a New York City mayor in nearly a century.

Those analysts discount the projections of a large margin of victory because, they argue, the most motivated voters are likely to be those who are angry with the mayor and inclined to vote against him, largely because of his reversal last year over term limits.

Uncomfortable in the locker room

Yep saw this live the other night and kept thinking this guy is really pathetic. At least they kept him on mute.

He also secretly is an Angels fan, as per Gothamist.

Time to dump the trash!

Kim charges racism...(yawn)...

From the Daily News:

Democrats accused a Queens Republican City Council candidate of flooding the neighborhood with racially charged flyers targeting his Korean-American rival.

They claim Republican candidate Dan Halloran is trying to scare white votes with flyers painting Democrat Kevin Kim as a pawn of Asian developers.

"This is a coded message a la Giuliani," said Liu, referring to the former mayor's recent warning of a resurgence of crime if current city Controller William Thompson - who is African-American - defeats Mayor Bloomberg.

One of the flyers juxtaposes a photo of Kim on a crowded street in downtown Flushing - which has a large Asian population - with a photo of Halloran playing boccie with several older white men in a park.

Another flyer features a large "For Sale" sign warning voters they will need the sign if Kim is elected. The flyer lists the names of Asian campaign donors.

Halloran's aides shot back, saying it was Kim playing the race card.

"Overdevelopment is a huge issue," said campaign spokesman Steven Stites.

"Kevin Kim's campaign is funded by the same developers who overdeveloped downtown Flushing, and they are who he will work for in the City Council."

Okay, so: If you are a white candidate and feature a photo of yourself with other whites on your campaign literature, that's "racist". If you are Asian and your campaign literature features yourself with other Asians, that's called "reaching out".

If you target overdevelopment as an issue and list the names of your opponent's developer contributors, who happen to be Asian because more than 90% of his contributors are Asian, that's "racist".

And best of all is that Johnny and Kim are basically conceding that Flushing has become an overdeveloped dump (and that wasn't achieved by the Archies).

Maybe instead Kim can answer why he would have so many contributors from District 20, unless they plan to do business in District 19 and see him as their golden ticket.

Gas explosion in Flushing

From the NY Post:

A suspected gas blast last night ripped the back wall off these two row homes in Queens. Two people were hurt.

The explosion, at 32-25 Leavitt St. in Flushing, was reported at 7:43 p.m. One person was rushed to New York Hospital's burn center in Manhattan; the other was taken to New York Hospital of Queens. Officials said neither had life-threatening injuries.

Fire officials say a man bleeding propane from a tank may have triggered the blast. A city demolition crew was sent to demolish the home.

Vallone wants to curtail stop-and-frisk

From NY1:

A Queens councilman is pushing for more privacy protection in the New York City Police Department's Stop and Frisk program.

Councilman Peter Vallone says it's wrong for police to maintain a database of people who were stopped and questioned, but not arrested or issued a summons.

Vallone, who heads the City Council's Public Safety Committee, has been exchanging letters with Police Commissioner Ray Kelly for the past few months.

Vallone says he supports the overall Stop and Frisk policy, but he thinks it's unfair for those who are stopped and let go to find their names held in a database for years. The councilman says the names should be systematically deleted after a certain period of time.

According to the New York Daily News, Kelly has no intention of removing the more than 500,000 names from the database -- and that a lawsuit required the NYPD to maintain the database.

Bloomberg's tax-and-spend plan

From Crains:

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said better- than- expected tax collections in recent months suggest the city's multi-billion-dollar budget deficit might not be as steep as he once expected.

In a speech and question-and-answer session before a friendly business audience at a Crain's breakfast forum Thursday, a relaxed-sounding Mr. Bloomberg offered little detail on how he would solve the looming budget crisis, beyond saying city agency budgets would have to be cut further.

“If you can't raise any more revenues and you can't walk away from your obligation to provide the basic services, what do you do?” he asked. “I think we've shown exactly what to do. We've cut [agency budgets] seven times now [since 2007] and we'll find ways to do it again.”

But some of the cuts, which the mayor says total $3 billion for the fiscal year that ends in June, apply to projected spending. And despite the belt tightening, total city-funded spending is projected to increase to $46.9 billion in the current fiscal year from $45.3 billion in fiscal 2009, according to a May estimate by the Independent Budget Office that takes into account use of prior surpluses.

How Bloomie wins friends and influences people

From NY Magazine:

The mayor is not a dictator. He can’t unilaterally decree major changes, and he still has to strike bargains with two legislative bodies—the City Council (generally a formality) and the State Legislature (more difficult, particularly when dealing with the inscrutable Sheldon Silver). But Bloomberg gets what he wants more than any mayor in modern memory.

The foundation of Bloomberg’s imperial mayoralty is, obviously, money. He’s used his vast personal fortune—$17.5 billion at last Forbes estimate—relentlessly and creatively to reverse the standard political dynamic: Instead of the special interests’ buying off the politicians, the city’s top politician has bought off the special interests. Money has allowed him to create the Bloomberg Party, whose clubhouse is the business elite and whose field troops are enlisted issue by issue. Bloomberg employs large segments of the city’s political class, directly and indirectly, and his philanthropy, often done in secret, gives him a very large circle of friends. Opposing him can be an exceedingly lonely occupation.

Richmond Hill residents disturbed by Forest Park trash

From NY1:

Jorge Martinez says that while taking his six-year-old daughter for a walk through Forest Park it is normal to come across condom wrappers amongst the flowers and trees. He says over the years, this kind of trash has become part of the landscape.

“It's absolutely outrageous,” Martinez said.

For years, Martinez, like many other residents here, has been angry about the illegal sexual activities. But when his daughter began asking questions, he decided to fight back. He started a letter writing campaign, sending 200 of them to residents and local leaders calling for a bigger crackdown on the offenders.

“On any given night, you can see 10, 12, 15 people randomly going around the park and doing, you know, this type of activity,” said Martinez. “You can identify them. You can definitely tell.”

Okay, it's time for a reality check...

This has been going on for decades at Forest Park.
This activity also goes on 24 hours a day, not just at night. The woods of Forest Park are a gay cruising spot, similar to Central Park's Ramble. The Parks Dept. and police do nothing about it because if they started busting people they would be accused of discrimination, police brutality, etc. Be happy you only saw the wrappers. I don't even want to describe the things I've seen left behind in that park.

It's just honest graft...please move along...

From NYC Council Watch:

Sources close to the action report that indictments are being prepared against one or more members of Council Member Larry Seabrook's office, possibly including the Member himself.

We have previously discussed the scandal in the Seabrook office regarding the nesting of bogus community operations within City-funded office space, which was then sublet to groups existing in name only. These phony groups then billed the City for their rent, with Member Seabrook or his operatives pocketing the extra money.

The US Attorney's office had no comment either way about the indictments. Neither did the office of Member Seabrook.

Police seek Kew Gardens robbery suspect

From NY1:

Police are asking for the public's help in finding a man they say robbed a Queens grocery store at gunpoint over the summer.

Authorities have identified the suspect, seen above, as Christopher Jones.

Police say he held up the GM grocery store on 84th Road in Kew Gardens on the afternoon of July 17.

Investigators say he was armed with a gun and that he was able to make off with money and other items from the store.

Anyone with information about the case is being asked to contact Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-577-TIPS, by texting TIP577 to CRIMES, or by going to