Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Woman found not guilty in Fathers Day arson

From the NY Post:

The Queens woman accused of killing her boyfriend by setting him ablaze was found not guilty this afternoon after the jury bought her claims that she did not start the fire.

Agnes Bermudez, 50, was accused of killing ex-lover William Salazar in a jealous rage, along with three upstairs neighbors who died in the horrific 2008 Father's Day blaze.

Bermudez, who dropped her head in relief and smiled at the reading of the verdict, was acquitted on all counts, which included manslaughter and murder by arson.

Prosecutors charged that Bermudez, in a jealous rage, doused Salazar with carpet-cleaning solution before setting him on fire.

She testified that she was the victim and that Salazar had set her ablaze.

A juror, Christopher Siess, said after wards that the panel were all in agreement.

"There was nothing conclusive," he said. 'It was just hearsay -- too many doubts."

The just foreperson, Julie Loyola, added, "We were all on the same page."

Watch Weiner catch a ball

Courtesy of the Daily News.

Domino deal done

From the Brooklyn Paper:

A key City Council committee is poised to pass the $1.2-billion Domino redevelopment project this morning — with the blessing of an anti-project Williamsburg lawmaker — thanks to a last-minute deal that would reduce the size of the project’s tallest towers yet not eliminate any affordable housing.

Sources close to the negotiations say that Community Preservation Corporation Resources has agreed to reduce cut its two 40-story towers down to 34 stories yet maintain the entire 660 units of below-market-rate housing from earlier versions of the plan.

The concession did not at first appease Councilman Steve Levin (D–Williamsburg), who initially wanted the project cut by 600 units. Domino initially resisted, saying that each floor of luxury housing that is cut from the project — already expensive because much of the former sugar is a city landmark — would cost the developer $5 million.

But a last-minute plea from Mayor Bloomberg, convinced Levin to soften his stance. And Domino caved after a late petition drive by industrial landowners near the project site triggered a requirement that the Council pass the project by a supermajority instead of a simple majority. A source said that Domino supporters were worried that they might not have enough votes under the new circumstances.

Glad to hear they're planning to increase electrical, subway and sewer capacity for this project. Oh, wait a minute...

Locking up your valuables not enough

According to a detailed complaint posted online, you might want to leave your valuables at home when you visit Spa Castle...

Behar rejected lobbying money

From City Hall:

Steve Behar, an attorney mounting a race in Queens for the seat of retiring Assembly Member Ann-Margaret Carrozza, claims that two pro-charter school bundlers have enough faith in his candidacy to have offered to raise him up to $200,000 in exchange for him changing his position on charter schools to support their expansion.

Many in what was a wide field of Democrats cleared out of the race at the end of last month, after Ed Braunstein, a staffer for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, received the support of the Queens County Democratic organization. Among those who did not is Behar, who lost a primary battle for the Council seat eventually won by Dan Halloran, and has remained in the race.

Braunstein is likely to be backed by the generally charter-cool teachers unions, given that he has the support of Silver, an ally of the unions. But in a letter written to the website Queens Teacher, Behar claimed that he was being courted to come out in favor of the charters.

“In the last few weeks two separate ‘political fundraisers’ promised to raise between $100K and $200K for my campaign if I changed my position to favor charter schools,” Behar wrote. “Since I’m running against a well-funded inexperienced and unqualified candidate (Ed Braunstein) who works for the Albany leadership and is in the pocket of the lobbyists and the special interests, that money would have really helped my campaign. However, keeping to my core beliefs, I refused to change my position and thus refused the money.”

In an interview, Behar said he turned the bundlers down on principle. He declined, however, to give the names of the two bundlers, citing concerns about scaring away future potential fundraisers and donors to his campaign.

All Behar would say is that one of the people he claims was involved approached him three weeks ago at the New York State Young Democrats convention, and the other approached him at a political event a week ago. When asked which event, though, Behar said he could not recall.

When told about the letter, Braunstein’s campaign blasted Behar for not disclosing who the bundlers were, and said he should report such incidents to the police, if they in fact occurred.

More about murder victim Yu Yao

From the Dominion:

NY 1-TV reported that 23-year-old Yu Yao from China was raped and killed in a Queens alley last month. She was a catechumen preparing for baptism at St. George’s, Flushing. The Rev. Dr. Paul Xie presided at her funeral. NY 1 said, “The sound of a mother’s pain filled” the service. “You didn’t have to understand the mostly Mandarin ceremony to understand her sorrow. The daughter moved to the U.S. from China to follow her dream and study to be a lawyer.” Fr. Xie (pronounced “shay”) said Ms. Yu first came to the church on Easter Sunday, invited there by a relative who was baptized at St. George’s four years ago.

Can Bob Turner upset Weiner?

From the National Review:

[Bob] Turner is convinced that this zeal — stirred in him by Weiner — is shared in the Ninth District of New York (and around the country). Brooklyn and Queens may not seem like prime tea-party territory, but they’re living in the same country, feeling the same economic and other frustrations the most pro-Palin tea partier is feeling. The watchword of Turner’s campaign: “grassroots.” He’s got outdoor advertising and mailings planned, but he insists that the core of the campaign is going to be getting a “buzz” started at kitchen tables around the district with phone calls, knocking on doors, and new media.

He realizes that this is a David-and-Goliath battle, though. He jokes that once Weiner realizes people are on to him, the congressman will have Barbra Streisand serenading his constituents as his Hail Mary pass.

Koreans forced into sex slavery

From the Daily News:

A malevolent Queens madam forced young Korean women into a life of sex slavery in Long Island massage parlors after promising them jobs at nail salons, prosecutors charged Tuesday.

Jin Hua Cui, 44, allegedly roped in the new immigrants with help wanted ads in Korean language newspapers, Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said.

"Women would respond thinking that they were going to work at a nail salon. She then forced them into prostitution through threats of violence, intimidation and embarassment," Spota said.

"If they did not cooperate she would reveal to their family, friends and members of the community in Flushing that they were working as prostitutes and threaten to have Chinese gangs kill them," he said.

The women were driven every morning to massage parlors in Huntington Station and Hicksville and forced to have sex for between $60 and $80, authorities said.

A sign in the window of the Huntington Station locale advertised a "Stimulus Plan," and "Asian Bodywork."

The johns were solicited with ads on Craigslist.

Cui allegedly pocketed the fees, leaving the women only whatever the men left as tips.

Detectives executing a search warrant at Cui's sprawling, million-dollar home in Flushing found $20,00 in cash, and thousands of condoms.

Combating Literacy, One Misteak at a Time

Normandeau Newswire

Normandeau Newswire – Queensbridge Houses is the largest public housing project in North America.

A diversity of educational levels and accomplishments are to be found.

Recently, a Queensbridge houses tenant who had not even finished high school, was flabbergasted when he saw a collection of “education aid” signs in Queensbridge's Jacob Riis Community Center that had grammatical errors.

That same tenant was shocked over the weekend to find that the Queensbridge Community had now misspelled the name “Queensbridge” on a very large banner approximately twenty feet wide by three feet high.

There it hangs, that big banner, on the front of Queensbridge's Jacob Riis Community Center on 41st Avenue, between 10th Street and 12th Street in Long island City.

Surely, this final blow to education can only reinforce the thought amongst Queensbridge children that the best way to combat literacy in the projects is just to keep plugging along, creating one “misteak” at a time.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

City budget passed

City Council Almost Unanimously Passes Budget
By: NY1 News

By a 48-1 vote, the City Council passed a $63 billion municipal budget today.

The current fiscal plan includes no tax increases, no fire engine company closings and a reduction in library hours to five days a week. It also calls for at least 2,000 layoffs of municipal workers and the closing of up to 30 senior centers.

The 2011 spending plan utilizes more than $3 billion in surplus to help fill in budget gaps.

Only Brooklyn Councilman Charles Barron voted against the plan.

Bronx Councilman Larry Seabrook and Queen Councilman Thomas White were absent.

Bus protest in Whitestone

From the Daily News:

A protest in Queens trapped one city bus for an hour Sunday as doomsday service cuts left riders and straphangers reeling all over town.

Whitestone residents are steamed the Q15A, a new alternate route of the Q15 bus meant to pick up riders stranded by the elimination of the Q14, has been routed down a residential stretch of 10th Ave. they say is too narrow.

"It's a safety issue," said Kevin Leibowitz, 46, an electrician. "A fire truck, usually the first response for a heart attack, how are they gonna get by?"

Dozens of angry neighbors joined former City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Queens) to stand in front of one of the Q15A buses, stopping it cold.

"We don't want you here, go away," one local resident shouted at the driver.

The protesters moved aside after a few minutes, but by then their prediction had come true: The bus faced a vehicle going the other way and the street was too narrow for the vehicles to pass each other.

Plumber Greg Sahakian was behind the wheel of the black Chevrolet pickup truck blocking the bus. Sympathetic to his protesting neighbors, Sahakian refused to back up and let the bus through.

"We're just trying to keep our neighborhood the way it's supposed to be," Sahakian said. "He's not gonna move, and where am I gonna go?"

A near-hour-long standoff ensued. The three passengers on the bus eventually abandoned it.

Cops arrived and briefly cuffed Sahakian, to boos and jeers from protesters, then let him go without a ticket after he backed his truck out of the way.

Meanwhile, a guy in Brooklyn is taking advantage of the MTA's misfortunes.

JFK runway reopens today

From WCBS880:

The main runway at New York's John F. Kennedy International is reopening after four months of repairs.

It will reopen officially on Tuesday at an 11 a.m. EDT ceremony. It has been repaved with concrete instead of less-durable asphalt and widened to accommodate today's bigger planes.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which manages the three main New York area airports, says the massive construction project ended within its $376 million budget.

Before it closed, JFK's Bay runway handled one-third of all the airport's takeoffs and landings. The runway is one of the longest commercial runways in the world.

Amtrak tree replanting back on track

From the Times Ledger:

Tensions have been high between Amtrak and residents of Boulevard Gardens in Woodside ever since the railroad company cut down a number of trees along the tracks in the neighborhood, but Amtrak’s recent promise to hire an arborist to replace the lost trees has made both sides feel as if an equitable solution is on the way.

Jimmy Lanza, 64, a former board president of Boulevard Gardens at 31st Avenue in Woodside, and a resident of the area for decades, said neighbors started coming to him as soon as it happened. He and others worked to contact Vallone and other politicians as well as members of the media.

Amtrak met with area residents about the tree removal Friday. [Amtrak spokesman Cliff] Cole said on that day that Amtrak admitted it had not communicated the initial tree removal to residents. The company also promised to hire a landscape artist who would replace the lost trees with low-lying shrubs and some replanting and refencing where appropriate.

Lanza said the residents have researched trees to replace those removed that are safe and will not require any maintenance on the part of Amtrak.

He said he is seeing Amtrak make some changes promised, such as removing the debris from the project. He is confident the community can find a compromise by using the arborist.

“It’s probably going to be acceptable to the majority of the community,” Lanza said.

Another hospital bites the dust

From the Daily News:

Two months after St. Vincent's Hospital was shuttered, North General Hospital in Harlem announced Monday it's closing its doors July 2 and filing for bankruptcy.

The news stunned many hospital workers and patients.

North General's main building is being converted into a nursing care facility that will be run by the city Health and Hospitals Corporation.

There also are plans for a federally subsidized clinic operated by the Institute for Family Health and serving some 80,000 people annually, officials said.

Bloomberg just an Archie Bunker!

From the NY Times:

Since winning a third term in November, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has announced a parade of major appointments: bringing aboard three new deputy mayors and six commissioners and trumpeting most of those arrivals in the Blue Room at City Hall.

All nine are white. All but one is a man.

Those selections are hardly anomalous. Despite a pledge he made when he took office to make diversity a hallmark of his administration, Mr. Bloomberg has consistently surrounded himself with a predominantly white and male coterie of key policy makers, according to an analysis of personnel data by The New York Times.

The city’s non-Hispanic white population is now 35 percent, because of an influx of nonwhite immigrants and other demographic changes in the past two decades.

But Mr. Bloomberg presides over an administration in which more than 70 percent of the senior jobs are held by whites, and he has failed to improve on the oft-criticized diversity record of Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.

Too many shelters spoil the neighborhood

From the Daily News:

Local leaders in southeastern Queens say they've had enough of the homeless shelters popping up in their neighborhoods.

City Councilman Leroy Comrie and Community Board 12 are lobbying city officials to stop a shelter for homeless families with children from moving into 170-02 93rd Ave. in Jamaica, a 54-unit apartment building.

The shelter, proposed by the Brooklyn-based nonprofit Housing Bridge, has yet to receive final city approval.

"While we want to try to be helpful and open, this location is absolutely the wrong site," Comrie (D-St. Albans) said. "We have too many vulnerable people in the area already.

"It's right down the block from a senior center," he said. "It's right down the block from a single-parent female shelter."

He plans to meet with city Department of Homeless Services officials within the next few weeks to convince them to shelve the proposal, he said.

Yvonne Reddick, district manager of Community Board 12, said the board is opposed to the shelter because the community has reached its saturation point.

The issue came to a head when a Housing Bridge representative gave a presentation about the facility at a June 16 board meeting.

"We have nothing against the homeless," Reddick said. But "we have more shelters than anyone [else] in Queens County."

Out of the borough's 17 homeless shelters, nine are located within her board, she said. And those are only the shelters that she is aware of.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Probing Joe's dough

From the Daily News:

When [Joe Crowley] was first elected to Congress, labor unions were his biggest financial backers. They've been eclipsed by financial, insurance and real estate interests, records compiled by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics show.

By the 2008 election, half of Crowley's contributions came from those three industries.

"I think I've matured here both personally and in terms of my assignments," Crowley said. "Many people here in Washington view me as an important figure."

In October, as the House wrestled with financial regulatory reform, Crowley and several other members of the New Democrat Coalition traveled to Wall Street to meet with JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs executives.

Crowley said the financial powerhouses are "important to New York."

"I don't think there's anything wrong with listening to people who will be affected by the legislation you're going to pass," he said.

Crowley also has received tens of thousands of campaign dollars from real estate investment trusts - companies that use investors' money to purchase and manage commercial real estate.

Since 2008, a political action committee of the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts has donated $33,500 for Crowley's campaign and leadership PAC.

His donors had reason to be pleased with him. In 2008, Crowley pushed legislation that let the trusts resell properties faster without tax penalties.

"Mr. Crowley was very much central to the cause on the House side," one industry observer said.

Then on Jan. 27, Crowley sponsored the Real Estate Revitalization Act of 2010 - a bill that would lower taxes on foreigners investing in real estate trusts.

Four days later, Crowley flew to L.A. to attend the Grammy awards, at one point posing with pop star Katy Perry.

While he was there, Peter Lowy, a top executive of the Westfield Group, an Australian-based developer whose lobbyists have pushed Crowley's bill, organized a Crowley fund-raiser at a restaurant called Toscanova.

Lowy and his wife also have contributed $18,800 to Crowley since February 2008.

A spokesman for Westfield said Lowy hosted the L.A. event as an individual. Crowley insisted it was "crazy" to think campaign money had any impact on his decision to sponsor the legislation.

He said he's gone against the real estate trusts, including raising taxes on profits for investment managers. "I have never, ever, ever sold my vote," he said.


Did Hiram fly off the handle at church?

From the Daily News:

Disgraced former state Sen. Hiram Monserrate is petitioning to get on the ballot for Assembly in Queens - and one of the candidates running for the job says the ousted lawmaker got in his face about it.

"I have seen Hiram and his people out petitioning,” Democrat Francisco Moya, who’s trying to get elected in the 39th Assembly District, told me.

On Sunday, June 13, “two of his volunteers showed up at my church while I was petitioning with my father,” Moya said. “They proceeded to accost us by yelling and screaming obscenities in front of a church on Sunday. And then he showed up and jumped right in with them. At a church on Sunday. Some things never change."

Moya, who's in government affairs for Cablevision, was handing out campaign literature near his Corona church, St. Leo’s, when he said Monserrate’s volunteers started badgering him, obstructing him as he tried to distribute his lit and talk to voters.

Then he said Monserrate himself showed up and spoke harshly to him before backing off and heading into a nearby store.

Yeah but isn't it also kind of low class to be petitioning at a church on Sunday?

Did Forest Hills Gardens have the right to do this?

From the NY Times:

Yes, someone is finally cleaning up the Sheridan house, the infamously overdecorated home in this otherwise demure neighborhood that is one of America’s oldest planned communities and one of New York’s more elegant enclaves.

Local residents have long cringed to behold 93 Puritan Avenue, with its tons of decorative debris — plastic flowers, fake Christmas trees and other ornaments — that for nearly two decades covered and obscured the outside of the house.

But Thursday morning, a huge pile of decorations had been ripped from the Sheridan’s yard and dumped by the curb. Some of it had even been put into garbage bags, which were taken away by sanitation workers by 9 a.m. A small mountain of plastic d├ęcor was scooped up in the afternoon by workers from Forest Hills Gardens’ operating agency.

Elizabeth Sheridan, who began the decorating to honor her deceased husband more than a decade ago, died recently at age 92, and her 57-year-old son, Michael Sheridan, her trusty helper, has been away for weeks, neighbors said.

For years, the two Sheridans worked daily, primping and pruning and changing the exhibits, usually before neighbors awoke.

There was mail piled on the stoop and cobwebs on the front door. No one responded to a reporter’s knock. There was gossip that Michael Sheridan had found himself a girlfriend and was on vacation.

“I think the Gardens should’ve had the Sheridan house cleaned up years ago, but I still feel bad someone came in without asking,” said Susanna Hof, a real estate broker who lives a block away on Puritan Avenue. “I don’t know who would have the nerve to do this.”

I was on the LIRR last week when this story first appeared on the NY Times website. A beer-swilling suit-wearing father and his teenaged daughter with an annoying nasally voice who apparently were neighbors of this deceased woman were cackling with glee at the fact that they got the New York Times to write this. It made me want to gag. This really isn't something to be proud of.

Bloomberg knew exactly what was going on

From the Village Voice:

...right up to that fateful election day, John Haggerty Jr. had worked his heart out for the Bloomberg cause with no apparent payment by the most generous political candidate in municipal history. Other top officials of Team Bloomberg scored the biggest paydays of their lives. Haggerty worked for free—at least as far as filings show. Yet his tasks were just as crucial, if not more so. He played the leading role in persuading five cranky Republican county leaders to get over their hurt feelings and give Bloomberg their nomination, even though the mayor had jilted them two years earlier by quitting their party. Take a look at those photos of Bloomberg's pre-nomination meetings in which he pleaded with GOP officials to let bygones be bygones. There's John Haggerty, quietly at his side.

Without the GOP nod, Bloomberg would've been forced to slog it out as a third-party candidate against an African-American Democrat on his left and a Republican spoiler on his right. We know how that would have turned out: Even with the GOP in line, Bloomberg managed only a 4 percent win, despite spending more than $108 million. We'd be talking today about Mayor William C. Thompson. That seems like reason enough to want to throw Haggerty a million bucks worth of thank-yous.

"John was responsible for the mayor's election," says Tom Ognibene, the former Queens Republican Councilmember. "Without the Republican line, he was not getting re-elected."

...the reason Bloomberg never cried thief last year is because there was no harm and no foul. "John got this money funneled to him," he says. "That's why there was no complaint filed. He never took a penny. He could've been making hundreds of thousands of dollars. This was John's bonus."

Then there's Bloomberg's own curious performance in all this. Vance says that he's had complete cooperation from the mayor and his campaign, and that neither are targets. For that, Bloomberg can thank the state's election laws, which are murkier than a Louisiana oil slick.

By routing it through his own checking account, the mayor guaranteed that it would stay secret until mid-January, the party's next required public filing. That much of the scheme Haggerty was clearly involved in. In a note to Bloomberg's campaign staff cited in Vance's legal papers, Haggerty wrote that the payment for the operation should be funded with "a Housekeeping contribution that will not be reported until January 15, 2010."

From the Times Ledger:

Queens Republican Party Chairman Phil Ragusa said he tried to dissuade Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s re-election campaign last year from dealing with GOP operative and Forest Hills resident John Haggerty Jr., who was indicted earlier this month on allegations he stole $1.1 million of the mayor’s money and lied to Bloomberg that the money would go to poll watching and ballot security operations.

“I warned Bloomberg before this happened,” Ragusa said in a phone interview Monday, saying he was “saddened and surprised” by the indictment against Haggerty, who along with brother Bart have been warring with Ragusa over control of the Queens GOP.

Ragusa said he did not want to take satisfaction from the indictment against his rival.

“I don’t want to revel in someone else’s problems if he did it, and the evidence seems overwhelming ... he’s going to have his day in court, right?” Ragusa said.

“I am the chairman of Queens,” he said. “They should’ve run the campaign through the different counties, not through political operatives. We never saw any of Bloomberg’s people out on the street. He should have come to us and let the Haggertys go someplace else.”

Why is Cuomo delaying Shulman prosecution?

From the Wall Street Journal via Willets Point United:

Queens property owners battling Mayor Michael Bloomberg's effort to redevelop the area near Citi Field are accusing Attorney General Andrew Cuomo of dragging his feet in a yearlong investigation into whether a city-funded corporation broke state law by lobbying for the plan.

The controversy surrounding the Flushing Willets Point Corona Local Development Corp. has exposed friction between aides to Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Cuomo over how quickly the city handed over documents to state investigators.

In a June 17 letter reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, the Willets Point property owners demanded Mr. Cuomo, who is running for governor, respond to their allegation that the corporation, led by former Queens Borough President Claire Shulman, conducted an extensive lobbying effort in violation of state law. Ms. Shulman denied any wrongdoing in an interview.

"We're getting a little frustrated on what's taking so long and why he's not acting more quickly," said Jerry Antonacci, president of Willets Point United Inc., the group that filed the complaint against Ms. Shulman's corporation.

"There is no reason for a delay in this."

Mr. Antonacci said he believes politics might be at play because, in his view, it's an open-shut case. "I do feel there's some behind-the-door politicking going on," he said. "That's what I feel in my gut."

Ms. Shulman's corporation received hundreds of thousands of dollars in both public and private money to build support for Mr. Bloomberg's plan. State law prohibits local development corporations, such as the Ms. Shulman's, from attempting to "influence legislation by propaganda or otherwise."

"We did everything in good faith and we continue to believe that," Ms. Shulman said. "It's a good project," she added, referring to the mayor's plans for the area. Ms. Shulman admitted she and her group engaged in lobbying.

"Did we go to speak to members of the City Council? Yes, we did," she said. "We hired lobbyists."

She's admitting the illegal activity for crying out loud! Stuff her ass in the pokey, pronto!

Forest Hills woman attempted contract killing

From the NY Post:

A Queens housewife angry at her cheating husband has been charged with attempting to hire a hit man to rub him out for $2,000, The Post has learned.

Veronica Escalona, 54, of Forest Hills, allegedly sought the help of a yellow cabby, who began helping her to secretly stalk her estranged husband, Ramillo, 49, after he arrived in Manhattan by commuter bus at the Port Authority Bus Terminal, sources said.

When Escalona mentioned to the cabby that she wanted her spouse dead, the cabby immediately approached two cops at the Port Authority, who in turn arranged to have an undercover detective pose as a hitman.

“She told the cabby, ‘I want him dead,’ and the cabby says, ‘Well, I can get that done for you for $2,000.’ He then went right to the police and was she was later introduced to an undercover who agreed to the hit,” said a source.

On Wednesday night, she repeated the overture to the undercover cop inside the Leisure Time Bowling Alley, telling him that she wanted her husband rubbed out – and providing him photographs and a $500 deposit.

After the Manhattan DA's office reviewed the evidence, she was locked up – and she later made a videotaped admission to her role in the crime, source added.

A mess in Maspeth

This "stalled site" at 73-47 Grand Avenue in Maspeth has pretty much looked this way since 2006.
They do a little until they get shut down and then the site sits empty for months before the process is begun all over again.

Eventually, there will be an 8 unit building here with a store on the ground floor and only 3 parking spaces, which is better than the 12 units they initially applied for here. Any bets on whether it will actually be finished this decade?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Scam artists shut down, but only on paper

From the NY Post:

A Manhattan judge disbanded the controversial United Homeless Organization calling it a sham, but its industrious alumni are still soliciting donations on the streets.

For decades the UHO employed an army of street hustlers that collected loose in change in water jugs with the endless chant of "Help feed the homeless."

But, in actuality the entire network just lined the pockets of the solicitors of UHO founder Stephen Riley and director Myra Walker, according to a lawsuit filed last November by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

Both Riley and Walker missed numerous court dates throughout the past year.

Judge Barbara R. Kapnick, finally ruled that the UHO must be disbanded and further banned Riley and Walker to ever engage in non-profit work again.

Still, numerous alumni of UHO are still on the streets doing the same scam.

College Point superfund site examined

From the Queens Courier:

After years of study, a 10,000-square-foot “hot spot” in the midst of Riverview Homes, 121st Street, north of 5th Avenue, was declared a “Superfund” site by DEP in April – because Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)-contaminated oil was found in the soil in 2007.

The area is called “College Point 3” in DEP reports, and is bounded by Riviera Court to the north, Capstan Court to the east, Cove Court to the south, and College Point Properties’ Soundview Pointe development to the west.

Much of this now-prime residential real estate north of 5th and Lax Avenues was created by a generation of illegal dumping, according to longtime resident Gary Bonelli, now a principal of LandServ Environmental Group in Long Island City.

“For years, the property owners turned a blind eye and allowed trucks to dump anything – rubble from gas stations, drums from factories. It was before the Clean Air Act and that section was basically one big junkyard.”

According to DEP spokesperson Maureen Wren, the Superfund designation “is the state’s program for identifying, investigating and cleaning up sites where consequential amounts of hazardous waste may exist.”

The next step in the process, she explained, “will be a Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study to determine a final cleanup approach.”

Existing Riverview homes were tested and “the New York State Department of Health determined that no further action was required,” Wren said.

“The Soundview homes are safe,” said James Cervino, a scientist with LandServ who grew up in College Point. “The builder was forced to do a thorough clean-up before construction.” However, he explained, “Stuff was oozing into excavations from the adjacent property, so the developer sunk a barrier into the ground to keep it out.”

One problem, Cervino believes, is that the oily goo may migrate in other directions now that it is blocked from the Soundview site – even into the Powells Cove Estates site to the east.

Another problem is that, according to longtime residents, somewhere under all that dumped soil, lies an old barge that may be laden with a large quantity of unknown contaminants.

DEP acknowledges that “because of its proximity to the East River and Long Island Sound, this site presents a significant threat to the environment.”

Queens organized crime ring busted

From the Times Newsweekly:

Three Queens men were among 16 individuals named in a federal indictment for their alleged roles in an international drug trafficking and sales ring, it was announced.

Federal law enforcement agents identified the Queens residents as 44- year-old Skender Cakoni, 35-yearold Nazih Nasser and 33-year-old Gentian Nikolli, who were taken into custody by members of the Joint Organized Crime Task Force, which includes agents from the NYPD and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

All of the indicted defendants were variously charged with kidnapping, narcotics trafficking, robbery and firearms possession, according to Preet Bharaha, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, who announced the indictment last Tuesday, June 8.

According to the indictment unsealed last week in federal court, the Queens defendants and others named in the indictment were reputed members of the Krasniqi Organization, a racketeering enterprise allegedly engaged in kidnapping, narcotics trafficking, extortion, robbery, and the interstate transportation of stolen goods.

Federal law enforcement sources said the Krasniqi Organization was led by brothers Bruno and Saimir Krasniqi, and operated in New York, Michigan, and Connecticut, among other locations. The Krasniqi Organization reportedly sought to enrich its members through various criminal schemes, including the trafficking of marijuana and used firearms and threats of violence to protect its power and territory, as well as to instill fear among rival drug dealers and victims.

In total, the Krasniqi Organization and their co-conspirators— including Cakoni, Nasser and Nikolli—are charged with having trafficked and distributed more than 100 kilograms of marijuana from 2003 through 2007.

Additionally, the alleged members of the Krasniqi Organization reportedly engaged in robberies and kidnappings. Specifically, on or about June 2005, after obtaining a multi-kilogram load of marijuana from one of the Krasniqi Organization’s marijuana suppliers (CC-1) and one of the co-defendants, several other members of the Krasniqi Organization allegedly used guns and threats of violence to rob CC-1 and the suspect of the marijuana and the marijuana proceeds. Subsequently, the Krasniqi brothers and other coconspirators kidnapped another rival drug dealer at gunpoint.

In addition to these charges, other members of the narcotics conspiracy are charged with firearms offenses. Specifically, after members of the Krasniqi Organization robbed CC-1 and one of the indicted suspects of marijuana and the proceeds of marijuana trafficking, the robbed suspect along with Cakoni and others obtained firearms to protect their narcotics business and attempted to violently retaliate for the robbery of narcotics by members of the Krasniqi Organization.

Carl Kruger in pay to play?

From the NY Post:

An Albany politician from Brooklyn is the focus of a pay-to-play probe into whether he and a staff member offered his political muscle to locals in exchange for campaign donations, prosecutors revealed yesterday.

A lawyer for one of the pol's alleged middlemen -- who was in Brooklyn federal court yesterday charged with lying to the FBI in connection with the probe -- identified the target of the two-year probe as state Sen. Carl Kruger, who represents portions of southern Brooklyn.

Michael Levitis, the alleged middleman, is a Brooklyn nightclub owner. His lawyer, Geoffrey Lichtman, yesterday pointed the finger at Kruger, a Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, as the "public official" accused of accepting kickbacks, saying Levitis is facing federal charges only because "he refused to testify against Senator Kruger."

Levitis "is a very small part of a very significant criminal investigation," Lichtman told The Post. "There is an allegation of quid pro quo between the senator and his constituents."

Levitis, a lawyer who owns the Russian nightspot Rasputin in Gravesend, was caught on audiotape on April 14, 2009, telling a federal informant that the informant needed to pay off a public official's staff member to get assistance on an upcoming business inspection.

"To start off, you'll have to throw in a few thousand . . . and then he solves your problem . . . depends on whether the problem is big or small . . . how much work he has put in," Levitis said.

The informant is instructed by Levitis that he'll "have to do a fund-raiser for" the official. The informant agreed and, on the FBI's instruction, recorded another conversation with Levitis on April 22, 2009.

During that meeting, the informant agreed to give Levitis $3,000 -- $2,000 for the official's staffer and the rest for Levitis.

The transaction was made five days later and caught on video.

Burden says "hands off" ULURP process

From the NY Observer:

Looks like the Bloomberg administration, currently updating the city charter, may leave its land-use approval process untouched.

Amanda Burden, chairwoman of the City Planning Commission and the administration's empress of all things zoning, said last night that she does not want to see the seven-month review process changed.

Speaking on a panel on the land use policies of Mayor John Lindsay, Ms. Burden was asked about her thoughts on the Charter Revision Commission.

"Some people think that ULURP takes way too long; half the people think it's way too short, and that means it's probably just about right," she said. "I think we definitely should make sure we don't mess with things that aren't broken."

While many good ideas will come out of the commission, she added, "changing the ULURP process doesn't seem to be one that really makes sense."

The strong statement suggests that the commission, which is controlled by mayoral appointees, will indeed leave the rezoning process alone. Developers have long pushed for a shorter process, and community boards have worried that their voices would be marginalized by any change.

Meanwhile, Hunter College professor Tom Angiotti holds a different view:

Speaking at a meeting of the City Charter Revision Commission Thursday evening, Mr. Angotti was the only one of a five-person panel of land use experts to take serious issue with the way the current rezoning process--known as the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure--now operates.

The problem, he said, is not what happens during ULURP but rather what happens before a rezoning application is certified--before ULURP, which over the course of seven months determines how a piece of land can be used, officially begins.

"What happens in the pre-ULURP process is that there are agreements made between public officials and communities that occur outside the sunshine of the public process, many of them behind closed doors," he said. "They are informal arrangements, informal meetings, and quite logically they happen before the ULURP process because no applicant wants to go through a seven-month process with all the time and effort that it involves and find that in the end their application is going to be turned down because they didn't anticipate the opposition of certain groups."

He said that because important decisions are made before ULURP even begins, community boards are left with the queasy feeling that their participation in the process is only for show.

"This leads to frustration, cynicism, division and anger within communities because they perceive that what's presented is a fait accompli," said Mr. Angotti, who has done consulting work for groups opposed to city-led redevelopment projects. "They feel that the time and resources that they invest in ULURP's process are wasted, and they're constantly reminded that the community board's vote is only advisory."

Billionaires want 12 million undocumented to be legalized

From NBC 4:

Seeking to reframe immigration reform as a solution to stimulating the economy, Mayor Bloomberg and the CEOs of several major corporations are pushing for a path to legal status for all undocumented immigrants in the US.

The group announced it will lobby to overhaul immigration laws that keep some of the most brilliant international minds from contributing to US businesses. The new coalition, dubbed "Partnership for a New American Economy" was announced by Bloomberg and News Corporation CEO Rupert Murdoch, the Australian media mogul who became a naturalized U.S. citizen, this morning.

"If you want to solve the unemployment problem in America, you have to open the door to immigrants who will come here and create businesses. When the tide comes in, everybody’s boat rises and we need more immigrants, not less," Bloomberg said Thursday morning as he stood in Manhattan's largest original retail outlet, Forever 21 in Times Square, developed by immigrants..

Bloomberg says too many technology companies in particular are having trouble recruiting the best and brightest workers because getting a visa is too difficult. He often complains that the brightest students from around the world come to NYC to study, only to return to work in other countries because they can't get green cards.

On the lower end of the economic ladder, the coalition will press for citizenship for the millions of undocumented people who could become taxpaying employees working in hotel, domestic and agricultural jobs that American workers are less likely to take.

The Mayor's high profile focus on the national immigration issue will undoubtedly resurrect speculation that he's exploring a run for president.

Closure vs. transformation for schools

From the NY Times:

On Friday, the city announced which of 34 schools on a state list of “persistently lowest achieving” schools it would keep open and try to improve — in a process known as transformation – and which it would most likely phase out beginning in the 2011-12 school year.

The 11 schools chosen for transformation can hire two new kinds of teachers — master teachers and turnaround teachers — who will earn up to 30 percent more than their regular salaries for training teachers in addition to their regular duties. Those premiums, and other school improvements, will be financed by $2 million a year in federal stimulus money over the next three years.

The 11 schools selected for transformation are:

* Automotive High School
* Bread & Roses Integrated Arts High School
* Brooklyn School for Global Studies
* Chelsea Career and Technical Education High School
* Cobble Hill School of American Studies
* Flushing High School
* Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School
* Long Island City High School
* Queens Vocational and Technical High School
* Unity Center for Urban Technologies
* William E. Grady Career and Technical Education High School

The additional 23 schools on the state’s “persistently lowest achieving” list that will most likely be phased out and replaced with new schools are:

* August Martin High School
* Beach Channel High School
* Boys and Girls High School
* Christopher Columbus High School
* Fordham Leadership Academy for Business and Technology
* Grace Dodge Career and Technical Education High School
* Grover Cleveland High School
* High School of Graphic Communication Arts
* Jamaica High School
* Jane Addams High School for Academic Careers
* John Adams High School
* John Dewey High School
* John F. Kennedy High School
* Metropolitan Corporate Academy
* Monroe Academy for Business/Law
* Newtown High School
* Norman Thomas High School
* Paul Robeson High School
* Public School 065 Mother Hale Academy
* Richmond Hill High School
* Sheepshead Bay High School
* Washington Irving High School
* W.H. Maxwell CTE High School

Additional schools that the city says it will attempt to close again next year, after having been prevented from doing so because of a lawsuit from the N.A.A.C.P. and the teachers’ union this spring:

* Frederick Douglass Academy III (middle school)
* Global Enterprise High School
* Monroe Academy for Business and Law
* School for Community Research and Learning
* New Day Academy
* Academy of Collaborative Education
* Kappa II
* Academy of Environmental Science High School
* Middle School for Academic and Social Excellence
* Public School 332
* Business, Computer Applications and Entrepreneurship High School
* Choir Academy of Harlem High School

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Recycling rate is pretty abysmal

From the NY Post:

The city's green agenda has a big black spot -- a plummeting recycling rate that by the end of the month could reach its lowest level in five years, The Post has learned.

Records show that just 15.9 percent of residential waste was recycled in the first 10 months of the current fiscal year, which ends on June 30. Over the same period in 2009, the rate was 16.4 percent. In 2008, it was 16.7 percent. When construction debris and commercial waste are included, the decline is even more dramatic. The "total diversion rate" collapsed to 24.6 percent from 33.5 percent a year earlier.

The city's Web site, however, still boasts that it has "the largest, most ambitious recycling program in the country."

DOB will inspect your deck without penalty

From the NY Post:

The city's Department of Buildings is showing mercy on apartment-building owners in the hopes of encouraging summer inspections.

Officials promise not to issue any fines -- no matter how dilapidated the porches or decks may be -- to encourage people to have them checked for cracking, rotting, failed connections and other indications that a collapse is possible, said DOB Commissioner Robert LiMandri.

The no-penalty program does not cover balconies in high-rises, but residents of those buildings can call 311 to request inspections.

Green card scam targeted Mexicans

NEW YORK (AP/1010 WINS) -- Prosecutors say a New York City woman posed as a lawyer and made phony promises to get green cards for Mexican immigrants.

Teresa Nora Martinez is being held on $5,000 bond after her arraignment Monday on scheming to defraud and other charges. Her lawyer's name wasn't immediately available, and no telephone number can be found for her home.

The Manhattan district attorney's office says the 39-year-old Martinez took $12,000 from three Mexican immigrants. Prosecutors say she told two she was an immigration lawyer and told the third she worked with lawyers.

Prosecutors say the immigrants eventually discovered she didn't have a law license and demanded she give their money back, but she refused.

Warehousing the kids

From the Queens Ledger:

P.S. 128 needs more space, yet again.

After switching to a new building this year, the school found that it was in need of more space for its 650-student body. So, the school, which is located on 65th Drive in Middle Village, acquired an ancient and abandoned tobacco warehouse across the street and made it the home of their new annex.

That's right - we opened a brand new school building this year that towers over the homes around it but it's already overcrowded we needed to open a second annex for it...

Bloomberg announces commuter van program

From the NY Times:

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced a yearlong pilot program Tuesday that will allow commuter vans to pick up passengers in parts of Brooklyn and Queens with limited access to public transportation or where bus service cuts will take effect next week.

To commuters, there are advantages and disadvantages. The vans will provide them with a means of reaching transportation hubs or other parts of the borough. But because the vans are privately operated, passengers who are connecting to a subway or bus will have to pay $2 to ride the vans as well as public transportation fare, which is $2.25 for a single trip.

“The issue here is not whether it’s more expensive or less expensive; it’s whether the service exists or not,” Mr. Bloomberg said at a news conference near Queens College in Flushing, by a stop for the Q74 bus, one of the lines that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will eliminate on Sunday.

The pilot program will establish three to six new commuter van routes in Brooklyn and Queens. The routes will be determined in the coming weeks, said David Yassky, the city’s taxi and limousine commissioner. It is scheduled to last a year, but it could be expanded depending on the results, he said.

Mr. Yassky said that enforcement would be a key to the pilot program, as well as to all of the industry, which carries an estimated 15,000 passengers daily from outlying areas of Queens and Brooklyn to transportation hubs, the financial center of Manhattan, a mall in Nassau County and other locations.

Last week, during a few hours in central and southern Brooklyn, taxi inspectors and officers from four police precincts seized 35 illegal vans and issued 73 summonses to unregulated drivers. Similar operations are planned with more frequency than in the past, Mr. Yassky said.

If there's such a big problem already documented, is it wise to introduce this program before the problem is resolved?

Bill mandates legal conversion of illegal loft space

From the Brooklyn Paper:

Gov. Paterson signed legislation on Monday to require illegally converted loft buildings to get up to code — a move that could make such residences safer, but at the same time could result in higher rents that will push out Williamsburg’s artists and the industries they live near.

The bill, known as the Loft Law, will extend rental protections to tenants living in the illegal apartments in former factories and warehouses in manufacturing zones in Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Maspeth.

As such, the bill’s champions heralded it as victory for tenants.

“Loft tenants finally have the peace of mind and protections that they deserve,” said Assemblyman Vito Lopez (D-Williamsburg), who worked on the bill for 10 years.

But such protection comes at a price, opponents say. Manufacturers and their supporters fear that they will be further displaced by a new wave of conversions and subsequent gentrification when landlords pass along the cost of their building renovations in the form of higher rents.

Mayor Bloomberg agrees. As the passed bill was making its way to Paterson’s desk, the mayor sent a last-minute plea to the governor urging a veto on the grounds that the bill would “send a clear and discouraging message” to industrial tenants looking to settle in the city by prioritizing residential ones.

“Residential uses, even illegal and unsafe ones, pay far higher rents than, and place enormous economic and political pressure on, industrial and manufacturing uses,” said Bloomberg. “Ultimately, the encroachment of residential uses in these areas will force businesses to relocate and, in many cases, leave the city altogether, along with the good-paying jobs and economic diversity that they support.”

Flushing: Build! Build! Build!

From the Queens Chronicle:

Chris and George Xu want to change the face of Flushing on the less developed north side of Northern Boulevard.

The two brothers, who run Century Construction Group Corp., discussed some of their plans at a luncheon meeting of the Flushing Chamber of Commerce on Friday and were later interviewed for more detailed information.

The closest to realization is the proposed 11-story New Millenium Building at 134-03 35th Ave., which was approved by Community Board 7 in April. The project calls for 98 condominium units, two levels of underground parking for at least 189 cars, ground-level shops, some offices and one or two senior centers.

One Xu project was rejected by CB 7 earlier this year, but the brothers have listened to the criticism and will not include a ground-floor supermarket with a hotel on top of it. “They didn’t like the idea of a grocery store there, so we took it out and will add a restaurant,” George Xu said.

The site is the location of the former Master Grill restaurant at 34-09 College Point Blvd. The brothers want to build a 250-room Sheraton hotel. “It’s at the Board of Standards and Appeals and we don’t expect a decision for another year,” he said.

Further down the road are plans for the old Sears site at 137-61 Northern Blvd., near Flushing Town Hall. It is occupied now by GW Supermarket. Chris Xu said the location needs to be rezoned and that it will take some time.

Meanwhile, the supermarket has a seven-year lease. The brothers envision an 18-story building with a 30-room hotel, 100 condo units, two floors of commercial space and adequate parking.

They are also trying to build two hotels on the Horace Harding Expressway and 18 two-family houses in Fresh Meadows. An environmental cleanup took longer than expected and the owners are trying to complete the foundations before area rezoning takes effect.

Just how much density can Flushing absorb? According to CB 7 Land Use Chairman and board Vice Chairman Chuck Apelian, it seems the sky’s the limit. “I don’t know what will happen in Flushing,” Apelian. “Every time I think we’re done, I’m surprised by something new.”

Friday, June 25, 2010

I didn't make this up, I swear!


Suzuki held without bail

From Crains:

Landlord Sam Suzuki turned himself in to the Bronx County Sheriff's Office and was transported to the Manhattan Detention Complex on White Street Thursday afternoon.

Last week, Mr. Suzuki was ordered to jail for civil contempt by the Bronx Housing Court for failing to make necessary repairs at a 49-unit apartment building he owns in the borough. The five-story building, located at 1585 E. 172nd St., has 691 open violations. Apartments in the building have collapsing ceilings, buckled floors and walls shedding lead paint. According to the court, “said incarceration shall continue until respondents comply with the July 20, 2009 Order or upon further order of the Court.”

According to a city spokesman, the Appellate Division did not issue the stay that Mr. Suzuki's attorney, Alice Belmonte, had filed for, so he surrendered himself. Ms. Belmonte could not be reached for immediate comment. Mr. Suzuki is currently held in the downtown Manhattan facility once known as the Tombs with no bail, according to a NYC Correction Department spokesman.

And now, the rest of the story...

From the Times Ledger:

Police said a dog walker stabbed a 31-year-old woman to death inside her Flushing home Thursday, crashed a car into Flushing Bay and then killed himself several hours later by lying down on the tracks of the No. 7 line at the Hunters Point stop.

Claudia Montoya, 31, was found dead with multiple stab wounds on Murray Avenue in Flushing after police responded to a 911 call about a foul odor coming from the house, a spokesman for the Police Department said. When they arrived, the woman’s body was in the bathtub, he said.

Police said Montoya was killed by her dog walker, whom they did not identify. After the slaying, the murderer turned on the gas in the house, which killed one of her two Yorkies. The other was carried out by an animal-rescue squad, the New York Post reported.

Police said the dog walker sped off in a Mercedes and headed for College Point, where he drove off a bluff into Flushing Bay near 20th Avenue. No one was inside the vehicle when authorities arrived on the scene.

Police said hours later the man somehow reached the Hunters Point station stop and lay down in front of the No. 7 train.

Caption the Daily News' photo

It's Friday and the Daily News actually has a "caption this photo" contest.


You can see the king in action, too.

Firehouses saved - or are they?

From True News from

Library, Senior and Education Cuts; Firehouses Saved Until Budget Modifications?

The council showed what a hot button issue the closing of firehouses has become when they agreed to not close 20 fire companies - for which they will cut almost every other service. The question will be how real of a budget the city can make when the state could cut additional billions from the city after they agree to a fine budget. Already the city faces a 600 million shortfall of Medicaid costs because it is unclear if the feds will fund this money the city expects. Look for additional budget cuts all year long. The budget that passes is meaningless if the money the city expects does not roll in. Mayor Bloomberg confessed he’s “worried” the state still does not have a budget, although the legislative leaders reportedly negotiated late into the night.

Cuts We Know About
-Six-day library service will be slashed to five The restoration is dependent on 60 fire trucks going from six to five firefighters and the removal of fire alarm boxes, which requires approval from the council and firefighter unions.
-Between five and 10 senior centers will close (NYP) between 30 and 40 senior centers will be closed and the number of teachers in the city will be reduced via attrition by more than 2,000 (WSJ)
-Elimination of some senior day care programs
-City agencies still have to cope with $1 billion in other service reductions
-Hundreds of city workers will still face layoffs
-Thousands of city positions could be eliminated through attrition

Spending would increase by $3.6 billion, or about 6 percent, compared with the budget approved a year ago, because of rising pension and health care costs. The budget restores Priority 7 daycare vouchers – a big issue for the Orthodox Jewish community.

Storm rips through northeastern Queens

From NY1:

In the streets of Little Neck, just north of Northern Boulevard, high winds caused a number of trees to fall.

A number of power lines were also downed, and at least one was seen shooting sparks into the air.

Residents who were at home at the time say the storm was quick but violent.

Little Neck Parkway was closed to traffic between 3:30 to 4 p.m. but has since reopened.

About 2,300 Con Ed customers lost power citywide.

Here's a slideshow of the damage.

Vallone comes to Marty's rescue

From the Daily News:

City officials are scrambling to change a law that could have halted free shows by performers like the Beach Boys and Neil Sedaka in Brooklyn.

Opponents sued to stop the concerts - held since 1991 in Asser Levy Park - charging they violate a law that bans amplified sound within 500 feet of houses of worship.

It's part of their battle to stop Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz's planned $64 million amphitheater in the park.

Two synagogues across the street from the park complain noise from the concert hall would drown out their services.

But a new bill introduced in the City Council at Mayor Bloomberg's request would temporarily carve out an exception to the rule for band shells, amphitheaters and stadiums if they keep the noise under a certain level.

The new rules would stay in effect for 90 days while the city irons out permanent changes - just long enough for Markowitz' Seaside Summer Concert Series.

"Clearly, the events in Brooklyn show that [the rule] may need to be tweaked. There are concerts all over the city that may now be in danger because of this lawsuit," said Councilman Petee Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), the bill's sponsor.

Actually, no there's not. Just concerts where no one followed the rules for permits.

Opponents blasted the move. "It's a clear end run around the existing law," said Norman Siegel, the plaintiffs' lawyer. "It's disappointing that rather than comply, the city is trying to change the law."

Hey Norm, if you don't like the laws as written, don't follow them - make new ones! That's the Bloomberg way. Notice how three 3rd termers are involved in these shenanigans.

Some of Vallone's constituents are calling for his impeachment. Heh.

Borough Presidents' power unused

From the Daily News:

The city's five BPs -- borough presidents -- argue what they need is MORE power, not banishment, as many have suggested.

So I looked at the one little-known power they have: The ability to introduce laws.

According to their respective offices, it has been used about a half dozen times in the last decade.

Queens Borough President Helen Marshall has done it twice in nine years. Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer has done it twice in five years. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. has done in once (the living wage bill) in two years.

Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro has never done it in nine years. And Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz has done "it once in the past year, and on one or two occasions earlier" during his nine-year tenure.

None of their laws have passed so far.

Even more of the Village is now landmarked!

You all can stop losing sleep now. The Greenwich Village historic district has been expanded yet again! Aren't you guys in Broadway-Flushing just pleased as punch?