Thursday, March 31, 2011

What, me pay?

From the Daily News:

Rep. Anthony Weiner has a little bit of 'splaining to do.

The self-appointed scourge of diplomatic scofflaws in Manhattan, Weiner racked up more than $2,000 in parking tickets around Capitol Hill.

From 2007 to March of this year, Weiner's ticket total was $2,180 for violations near the Capitol and at Reagan Washington National Airport, Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, reported Tuesday.

A Weiner spokesman said all of the fines have been paid since the paper first contacted the office.

"He is pleased to have helped decrease the D.C. budget deficit," Weiner spokesman Dave Arnold quipped to the paper.

Aides to the Queens Democrat claim that part of the problem arose because D.C. officials sent notices of the fines to a bad address.

Bank robber busted in Woodhaven

From WPIX:

The bank robber dubbed the "Holiday Bandit" has been arrested in Queens, federal authorities announced Tuesday.

According to officials, Marat Mikhavlich, the man they believe is behind at least nine bank robberies in the past three months was arrested Tuesday morning, just a day after he allegedly struck again in Edison, New Jersey.

Mikhavlich fled the Cathay Bank in Edison in a stolen 2007 Camry, police said.

The same vehicle was spotted less than 24 hours later parked along 91st Avenue in Queens. Police moved in and arrested Mikhavlich without incident.

From the NY Post:

The heroin-addict bank robber who became one of the most-wanted men in New York for a spree that began around Christmas had grenades inside his Queens home, sources revealed today.

After his arrest, police and FBI agents conducted a search of his Queens apartment on 84th Drive in Kew Gardens and found several grenades, sources told The Post.

DAs cruising toward unopposed victories

From City Hall:

In the Bronx, the city's longest-serving district attorney, Robert Johnson, a 63-year-old Democrat, is reaching out to Republican and Conservative party leaders about running on their ballot lines. In Queens, District Attorney Richard Brown, 78, is hopeful that he too will again get the endorsements of all the major parties in a race in which no challengers have emerged. Even on Staten Island, which was the rare DA race to feature two candidates in the last election, the Democratic Party has yet to find a challenger to run against the incumbent, 54-year-old Dan Donovan.

So while the three incumbents are beginning the motions of running for re-election, the political questions are really mostly focused on whether Johnson and Brown are secretly plotting retirement while grooming hand-picked successors, who might be in position to succeed the prosecutors when they step down, and occasionally, on the thin but still swirling rumors about who might take on Donovan.

In Queens, "Judge" Richard Brown is already setting his sights beyond the upcoming election. He said he plans to match former Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau's feat of serving until age 90.

"There's only about 15 years to go," said Brown, who has been in office since June 1991.

If Brown even comes close to Morgenthau's longevity, the field of potential successors will have to look elsewhere if they want to run for public office.

Council Member Peter Vallone, Jr., who has been subject to speculation about a DA run for years, said he is raising campaign funds, but would only consider running if the seat were vacant.

"I'm not even thinking of Judge Brown's office because he's there and he intends to hold that position for a long time," Vallone said. "So obviously I've got some other options to consider, such as borough president, and I'm looking into it."

Another potential successor, former Council Member Melinda Katz, said she had not thought that far in advance.

More high school dropouts than reported

From the Daily News:

The state controller ripped the city for downplaying the school dropout rate in an audit released Tuesday.

The city's rate was actually as high as 16.5% for general education students in the class of 2008 - three points higher than the city reported, the audit found.

The dropout rate for special education students was as high as 23.8%, while the city reported a 17.2% dropout rate.

"The city school system needs to sharpen its pencils when it comes to knowing which kids are dropping out and which kids are transferring to another school," said state Controller DiNapoli in a statement.

"(The education department) should be doing its homework and making sure the right papers are turned in to back up the reasons why students are leaving school."

The audit also found that the city's graduation rate was lower than reported. For general education students, it was as low as 62.9%, versus the 65.5% graduation rate reported that year.

Strange DEP notice

Spotted this on a sidewalk in Maspeth recently. When I saw the word "Violation" on it, I decided to pick it up. It was quite enlightening.

"Dear inhabitant of Bloombergia:

You probably drank some dirty water last month, but it won't kill you. There's nothing we can do about it, but we thought we'd let you know. We're hoping it doesn't happen again. Please tell everyone you know because we don't have the staff, time or money to do a proper notification.

Sincerely, DEP"

Why not just word it plainly?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mayersohn retiring

From the Daily News:

Assemblywoman Nettie Mayersohn, the dean of the Queens delegation who was first elected back in 1982, announced today she is retiring.

Our Lisa L. Colangelo reports:

"After much deliberation, I believe the time has come for me to step aside," said Mayersohn, who turns 87 in May and represents the 27th Assembly district.

Mayersohn’s longtime aide, Michael Simanowitz, is being touted as the frontrunner to replace her.

Voters will pick Mayersohn’s replacement in a special election. But placement on the critical ballot is chosen by the four District Leaders - Mayersohn, Simanowitz, former Councilman Morty Povman and Charlotte Scheman.

Thank goodness the outcome has already been decided!

Has he lost his marbles?

From the Daily News:

On his Friday radio show, [Bloomberg] was asked about a new shift in city policy that had been in the newspaper for two days running - and didn't seem to know it had happened.

It's a shift on something that had been a sore point for Bloomberg's critics - outside contractors paid six-figure salaries for tech projects that blow deadlines and budgets, like the scandal-ridden CityTime system. was news last week when one of Bloomberg's deputy mayors, Stephen Goldsmith, agreed with critics and said New York will save tens of millions of dollars by bringing the work in-house.

On the radio, WOR-AM host John Gambling tossed Bloomberg a softball about it. But instead of explaining the new company line on insourcing, the mayor defended outsourcing.

If the Bloomberg administration has a new message on contracts, why did Bloomberg himself go off-message?

...perhaps it's a sign of...a third-term mayor who has delegated the nuts and bolts of government to new aides like Goldsmith but isn't paying enough attention to what they're doing.

Those who work closely with City Hall - even Bloomberg's allies - have seen signs of third-term drift. His attention is on national and world issues, not day-to-day business like plowing snow or rewriting tech contracts.

Protest crosses the line - literally

From Bayside Patch:

More than 60 Bayside Hills residents gathered on a piece of land at the corner of 216th St. and 51st Ave. on a chilly Sunday morning – vowing to put the freeze on plans to build a house there.

The corner property, owned by developer Rockchapel Realty, LLC, was divided into two tax lots, with the idea of building a home on what is now a “side yard.” The existing home at the location is being rented, and the developer says that the unimproved land is a “hardship.”

Former City Councilmember now State Senator Tony Avella, D-Bayside, publicized the meeting and came early to show his support for the neighbors against the plan. Avella encouraged the dozens of protestors to cross onto the land. A publicity photo was taken to demonstrate the protestors’ point of how unaccommodating the space was in size.

Councilman Dan Halloran, R-Whitestone, who was also there to back the protestors, declined to stand on the lot to participate in the photo. It is not immediately clear if the group had been granted permission from the landowner to cross onto the property.

“Nobody has attempted to build a house here in over 80 years for a reason,” said Avella, adding, “There is simply not enough room.”

The lot is only 18 feet wide where it meets 50th Ave., and is too small under zoning rules to be built upon. Nevertheless, architect Paul Bonfilio has designed a home for the property, even though it would be illegally close to the homes behind and next to it.

However Bonfilio has applied for a “variance” from the zoning code to permit construction. His application didn’t garner a single vote of support from Community Board 11 when it was reviewed on March 7 and was rejected by Borough President Helen Marshall at a subsequent hearing.

What’s worrying neighbors is that the Board of Standards and Appeals, a collection of professionals appointed by the Mayor, is not bound by the Board or the Borough President – and if they give Rockchapel the go-ahead, the only recourse is in the courts.

What happens when you mess with capitalism

From the Daily News:

Describing many poorer neighborhoods as food deserts, Bloomberg, Quinn and the Council determined that the city would encourage produce sales via sidewalk vendors. These so-called green carts are now proliferating - along with complaints that many are competing directly with established food markets.

Sung Soo Kim, of the Korean-American Small Business Service Center of New York, says the green carts don't necessarily go to neighborhoods with few shops and fewer fruits and vegetables.

Instead, he contends, vendors set up where customers are - near markets that sell produce on streets with heavy foot traffic. And, since they don't pay rent or other overhead, the carts can undercut the prices at traditional retailers.

Thus, he says, the carts are stealing business without increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables in neighborhoods where they are lacking.

The complaints demand investigation. The city has no business promoting one class of entrepreneur over another - and make no mistake, the city is promoting the green carts by offering low-interest loans to help vendors pay for their 3-by-6-foot carts.

The city also provides grants, through private funding, for workshops on how to choose quality produce, store the goods and promote the business. It even gives out cart-size umbrellas.

Illegal conversions also rampant outside NYC

From NBC:

A Suffolk County woman's death in a fire over the weekend marked the second time this month that a fire in an illegally converted garage apartment claimed lives.

Dori Costa, 46, was killed in a Sunday's fire inside a converted Islip garage, according to Suffolk county police. The cause was believed to be accidental, and the apartment where the single mother lived and died was illegal, according to Islip town officials.

"I know she was in between jobs and trying to provide for her kids," said neighbor Mike Curry. "It's a tragedy."

Gary Munsch, 54 and his wife, Toni, 51, were killed in a March 17 fire at their garage apartment in Massapequa.

According to housing experts, both tragedies can be linked to Long Island's lack of affordable rental apartments.

"There's thousands of illegal apartments on Long Island," said Peter Elkowitz. the CEO of the non-profit Long Island Housing Help.

Long Island has long had a shortage of affordable rentals, Elkowitz said. And more are seeking cheap places to live, as foreclosure rates rise in the area.

In addition, said Elkowitz, Long Island's rising property taxes continue to force homeowners to rent out garages or basements as a way to reduce their costs.

Okay, this may be part of it, but the biggest reason for illegal rentals is greed. People buy homes they wouldn't be able to afford if not for the illegal rentals and many unscrupulous realtors advertise the fact that you can illegally convert the home in order to make a sale. It also seems that when tragedy strikes, rarely does the homeowner live on premises; these are generally investment properties. You can make more off a property by illegally subdividing it and renting out the multiple units at a cheaper price. Throw in rental income from parking spaces - and it's all tax free! A renter also saves money by renting a cheaper illegal unit. But they could also share a legal apartment with roommates and probably pay about the same.

You want to see illegal apartments disappear? Ramp up the enforcement, stand firm against legalizing out of compliance units and then follow it up with IRS and state tax penalties. Enough with the excuses already.

Practice what you preach

From the NY Times:

Guess what: Your neighborhood isn’t a Hollywood back lot. “Liking the idea” of a store doesn’t pay its bills. I’m not talking here about the venerable old places that close because the landlord is quintupling the rent, or because the proprietor’s children are not interested in continuing the family business and would rather be rap producers or America’s next top model. I’m talking about the businesses that are gamely hanging on and would gladly continue — if they had customers.

So don’t just stand there and admire Russ and Daughters’ retro neon sign. Go in and order a quarter-pound of their life-changing whitefish salad. Buy a book at an independent bookstore every once in a while, instead of ordering it on Amazon. Patronize a restaurant that offers “chops.” That quaint old hardware store that’s been around since the Truman administration? Venture in and buy some light bulbs. Yes, they may cost a little bit more (although finding an actual clerk or the product itself in a big-box store will almost certainly cost you more in time), but I consider it a tax to ensure that New York City doesn’t look like anywhere else.

You’re only allowed to complain about that Chase bank or Duane Reade on the corner if you actually give business to the mom-and-pop stores that you cherish so much. Otherwise, I don’t want to hear about it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Subway stupidity

Sent to my inbox by a reader, from

Caught On Cell Phone: Man Gets Cut In The Face For Laughing At A Girl's Wig Coming Off Her Head In A Queens Train Station! "You Aint Going No Where. Ill Knock Your Azz Out"(Passengers Try To Tame Her Till Cops Come.

"This woman gets upset when people laugh at her wig coming off of her head in a Queens train station. Passengers try to tame her, but when they let her go, she cuts a man in the face. The same guy she cuts and his friend chase her down and hold her until police come.

Hevesi to judge: "Please don't send my dad to prison."

From the Daily News:

In a letter to [Judge] Stone, Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi passionately argues that his father's wrongdoing should not overshadow a lifetime in public service.

"In short, your honor, Alan Hevesi has earned the right to spend the rest of his life surrounded by those who appreciate and love him for who he is, a great and flawed man," Andrew Hevesi wrote. "Please send him home to our family."

The younger Hevesi wrote of modeling his life after his father, a former assemblyman and city and state controller. He portrayed his father as a fighter for his family, people in need, equality - and "what is right."

He even appeared to blame his father's plight on the scam's ringleader - the ex-controller's longtime political guru Hank Morris - by noting his dad is loyal, "sometimes to a fault."

"Despite his failures and mistakes, I will not now or ever stop believing in him," Hevesi wrote. "Not just because I love him as the man who, with my mom, raised, protected and loved me, but because these transgressions will never define my father."

Also from the Daily News:

Disgraced ex-controller Alan Hevesi was in a hospital for an emergency procedure today -- on what was supposed to be his sentencing day.

Our Jose Martinez reports:

Facing up to four years in prison on a felony corruption charge for his role in a massive state pension fund pay-to-play scandal, Hevesi had to undergo an emergency endoscopy, defense lawyer Bradley Simon said.

Simon declined to get into the specifics of Hevesi's condition, saying it was a medical issue that popped up "over the weekend." (Ken Lovett says he understands the problem to be internal bleeding. - CK)

In other corruption news, Pedro Espada now faces more charges.

Repair shop owner seeks zoning change

From the Times Ledger:

Community Board 8 was bitterly divided over an owner’s plan to extend a commercial overlay on 164th Street and ultimately decided to vote against the plan during its monthly meeting last week.

The board voted against the proposal by a vote of 19-15.

J&H Management Construction, which operates an auto repair shop at the site at 69-15 164th St., is seeking a change in zoning on the block so a two-story building, with one floor of retail and a second floor of offices and a lobby, can be constructed on the lot.

Joel Fisher, president of the company, wanted to speak at the meeting but was denied because he had not signed up for public speaking time.

Steve Konigsberg, chairman of CB 8’s Zoning Committee, said the body voted 6-2 in favor of the change but that he voted against the proposal because of “reservations with promises and assurances” by the owner.

CB 8 member Kevin Forrestal said the applicant was asked to cooperate with elderly neighbors on the block but there had been a “lack of cooperation.”

Forrestal said the management company should seek a variance instead of changing zoning on the block.

“To give a change in zoning ... is inappropriate and we should vote this down and leave the option to the applicant to go another route and ask for a variance,” Forrestal said.

CB 8 member Pat Dolan said changes like the one the applicant is seeking is happening more frequently, citing Northern Boulevard in CB 11 and College Point Boulevard in CB 7.

Someone remind me again why we have zoning if developers can come in and change it?

Sign petition for a new CB7

Recent local newspaper articles and letters to the editors have documented the very disturbing extent of dysfunction at Queens Community Board 7 ("CB7"). Whether due to innocent incompetence or deliberate maneuvering, the leadership of CB7 has routinely demonstrated its contempt for the very community that it exists to serve.

Whether improperly ejecting the public from the auditorium so that it may hold an unlawful private meeting, or secretly concocting a biased homeowner survey to obtain skewed results, providing inaccurate information to CB7 members prior to their votes concerning a proposed development valued in excess of $4 billion (consistent with the goal of an illegal lobbying campaign), or refusing to adhere to the States Freedom Of Information Law, the leadership of CB7 has repeatedly operated against the community's interest, with total impunity.

Rather than take corrective action, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall has instead congratulated CB7's leaders for their "hard work".

Enough is enough. Our community is being very inadequately served by CB7 in its present form, and we deserve far better. Indeed, we deserve a responsive Community Board that actually satisfies the promise of "City Government In The Community" that is intended by City Charter Sections 2800 and 2801. There is no shortage of qualified people who are available to participate and fix this problem. The first step must be the removal of CB7's present leadership, which has operated with impunity for far too long.

We seek the removal of the entire CB7 Executive Board and the CB7 District Manager. All other CB7 members should re-apply, and undergo a screening process in which the public is invited to participate. Term limits, which were in place for CB7 members until powers-that-be decided to eliminate them, must be reinstated.

We also request that the Department of Investigation examine all alleged prior wrongdoings, and hold accountable all responsible persons.

The following are examples of improper activities involving CB7.

During its review of the proposed Willets Point development:

• Unlawfully kept secret at the time, and later confirmed by retroactive filings, both CB7 Vice Chair Apelian and and CB7 Chair Kelty were "Targets" of the lobbying campaign orchestrated by Claire Shulman's local development corporation – lobbying for which Shulman's group eventually was fined the record penalty of $59,090.00;

• Apelian prohibited discussion by CB7 members of the option to disapprove (rather than approve) the proposed development with conditions;

• Despite the controversy surrounding the proposed development and the anticipated high attendance at the public hearing, CB7 scheduled the hearing and final vote to occur on the last possible date without the possibility to adjourn and continue, late in the evening, delayed by another unrelated agenda item placed first on the calendar, in a room of inadequate size, without air conditioning, in the extreme heat of mid-summer;

• Exemplifying its contempt for the public which it exists to serve, CB7 slashed the amount of time for each public speaker at the hearing, contrary to the written hearing notice which specified three minutes per speaker

• Apelian repeatedly told CB7 members that a letter from Deputy Mayor Robert Lieber "agreed to" conditions previously established by CB7 – although the letter did not actually do so;

• Just prior to the final vote, Kelty told CB7 members that if the conditions attached by CB7 to its approval were not adopted later in the land use review process, that CB7's approval then "is a 'No'" – although that is not the case, as per the City's Law Department , and the incorrect information provided by Kelty may have persuaded some CB7 members to mistakenly vote to approve;

• CB7 held the final vote at the unreasonable hour of 12:45AM;

• CB7 failed to vote by the deadline date required by the City's land use review procedure;

• When CB7 later debriefed its mishandling of the matter, it did so in secret, after instructing the public to leave the auditorium, thereby implementing an unlawful closed executive session that complied with none of the requirements of the New York State Open Meetings Law;

• When a property owner who was aggrieved by all of the foregoing complained publicly about CB7's blatant mishandling of the entire matter, CB7 insisted that the property owner apologize to CB7 by placing full-page advertisements in local newspapers, with text dictated by CB7. (The property owner did not do so.)

During its review of a traffic flow proposal affecting Malba Gardens, Whitestone:

• CB7 violated New York State's Freedom Of Information Law (F.O.I.L).

• CB7 ignored an Advisory Opinion of the Committee on Open Government, and continued to withhold information from the public, after being told they could not.

• CB7 conducted a community survey without allowing all members of the responsible committee to view the survey until after it was sent out.

• CB7 refused to acknowledge a committee member's objection to the wording of said survey.

• CB7 increased the scope of the survey area to include an area not immediately impacted by results of the survey, other than as a convenience issue. CB7 converted a significant safety issue into a mere convenience issue.

• CB7 accepted returned surveys with more than 20 discrepancies. Several residents voted twice, and several addresses within the survey area were not included.

• CB7's District Manager made inappropriate comments to an MTABT official regarding her desire to disregard the personal safety of the President of a civic association that had a safety issue pending before the board.

• After six months and repeated requests, CB7 conducted its own investigation into the alleged comments of CB7's District Manager (i.e., "I would step over his [Centola's] prone body and refuse to call for help"). CB7 member Robert LoPinto contacted several members of Malba Gardens Civic Association, requesting a copy of intercepted emails, as well as other correspondence. One year later, there is still no outcome of this investigation.

• CB7 used taxpayer dollars to investigate itself.

• CB7 chair Kelty is alleged to have made derogatory comments to his board about leaders of Civic Associations and the need of CB7 members to band together against "These Crazies".

In a recent letter to the Whitestone Times, Ms. Shepard described how recent events remind her of the illegal tactics employed by CB7 to promote development of Fort Totten.

• Then-Queens Borough President Claire Shulman appointed Adrian Joyce (also appointed Chair of Malba Gardens issue) to sit on the committee, represent the community and head the Ft. Totten Redevelopment Committee.

• The people who protested the closed door meetings were told that the people appointed by Shulman were “representing the community.” Yet when the people who live near Fort Totten asked to observe the meetings, they were told by Shulman's counsel that a “vote was taken” and it was unanimous “not” to allow the community into the meetings.

Ms. Shepard writes:

• "We organized, protested and eventually went to CB7 to testify. When I submitted my testimony to Gene Kelty, he immediately tore it up."

• "There is usually one community officer at the CB7 meetings, but I made the mistake of informing the office that I would testify that night. There were six uniformed officers from the local precinct, and as I was reading my testimony two officers came up and attempted to pull me away from the microphone."

• "This did not deter me, in fact it made people join our plight and eventually the meetings were open and Fort Totten became parkland. If we had not continued the pressure, St. John’s University would have built 300 dorms there, affecting our community with more traffic and less parking spots."

The secret meetings and use of underhanded tactics to prevent the community from speaking out against an issue is politics as usual and must be put to an end.

To express your support for the long-overdue reform of Queens Community Board 7, please visit the web site and sign our online petition. Once we obtain sufficient signatures, we will notify appropriate authorities and begin to bring about the necessary changes.

A New CB 7

Another tennis stadium at Flushing Meadows

From the NY Post:

The Billie Jean King Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows Park, the site of the US Open, will get a brand-new 3,000-seat stadium to complement its three existing arenas, the United States Tennis Association said.

The Parks Department refused to release the preliminary designs for the new facility, but said it wouldn't require any public money and would not change the current borders beyond the 46.5 acres the tennis center already has.

It's unclear if any of the 30 public courts would be bulldozed to make room for the new facility.

The USTA pays the city about $1.5 million a year to rent the park space. The stadiums, except for the US Open and a handful of other tennis matches, sit empty the rest of the year.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Queens Plaza crash kills man on sidewalk

From WPIX:

A pedestrian is dead and two are injured after a vehicle flipped and landed on its roof on a sidewalk in Queens early Monday.

Police say the accident happened just after 4 a.m. just feet away from the Queensboro Plaza Station on the N, R and 7 lines, near the corner of Queens Plaza North and Crescent Street in Long Island City.

The 35-year-old driver of the red 2007 Volkswagen had just exited the Queensboro Bridge and was traveling eastbound when it mounted the sidewalk and overturned, striking a 68-year-old man on the street.

The vehicle crashed into the front of Espinal's Caribbean Restaurant II, located at 25-06 Queens Plaza, which was closed at the time of the crash.

EMS declared the man dead at the scene.

Reports say the driver's arm was amputated when it flipped over and responding emergency workers were able to locate the severed arm. He was transported to Bellevue Hospital, where he is listed in stable condition.

The passenger, a 35-year-old woman, was transported to Cornell Hospital, where she is listed in stable condition as well.

The circumstances surrounding the crash are under investigation.

I'm guessing high rate of speed and possibly alcohol were involved.

Of note, the only media outlet to report this story using "Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge" is the Daily News, which actually is incorrect since Bloomturd hasn't yet signed it into law. Nice going, smartasses.

View more videos at:

What happens when you build cheap

From WG News:

Great fanfare accompanied the groundbreaking of Northside Piers/Palmers Dock on July 13, 2006, with the attendance of some of the city’s top brass, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Deputy Mayor for Economic Development & Rebuilding Daniel L. Doctoroff, State Assemblyman Vito Lopez, former Department of Housing Preservation & Development Commissioner Shaun Donovan, Department of City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden, Department of Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe, and Toll Brothers Division Vice President David Von Spreckelsen. Von Spreckelsen was quoted as saying at the event, “We are thrilled with the opportunity to participate in the revitalization of the northern Brooklyn waterfront made possible by the hard work of the Bloomberg administration in accomplishing this important re-zoning.”

Some units have had water infiltration which has resulted in the untenable condition of mold growth. In addition, many owners complained that the full-view windows that were installed, do little to keep wind and water out of their units which increases use of heat in the winter, and air conditioning in the summer, both of which run on electricity. This certainly makes our friends at Con Edison very happy, as I was shown the electricity bills for many residents averaging over $400 dollars a month.

Many owners are claiming that the hardwood floors that were supposed to be in the units, are actually cheap engineered wood that scratches and warps easily.

Another owner wrote that a unit has repeatedly flooded with sewage in their home causing mold to develop in their and the adjoining unit. Owners also stated that the exterior of the building is a danger because of exterior metal cladding falling off the building.

No shame whatsoever

Originally, I was going to make fun of the costumes Bloomberg wore during his sketches for the annual Inner Circle show. I mean just take a look:

But then I saw the photos of a sketch that made fun of the administration's lack of responsiveness during and after the December 26th snowstorm.

So it appears that the mayor and his butt kissers tried to turn their negligence - which resulted in people's deaths - into cheap laughs. They think it's appropriate to crack jokes about that? And the members of the media laughed? How utterly tasteless.

I have news for you all: IT'S NOT FUNNY, ASSHOLES.

Photos courtesy of Gothamist.

Saying 'adios' to chica chica

From the Daily News:

They're called "Chica Chica" cards - and they're flooding Corona and Jackson Heights, Queens.

They look like baseball cards. But instead of featuring A-Rod or Derek Jeter, they have graphic pictures of naked or half-naked women - with a phone number offering free delivery.

They're really the business cards of prostitutes and pimps who operate along a stretch of Roosevelt Ave. in Queens - and a move is afoot to make them illegal.

Queens Democratic Sen. Jose Peralta wants to make it a crime to distribute the raunchy cards. He and his Assembly counterpart Francisco Moyo have introduced a bill making distribution of the cards a misdemeanor, categorizing them as obscene material.

"Is this going to eliminate prostitution? It's not," Peralta said. "It's the first step toward improving the quality of life on Roosevelt Ave."

The lawmakers say that on a nighttime walk down Roosevelt Ave., there will be men uttering the words, "chicas, chicas," which means "girls, girls" - and they'll thrust forward one of the cards.

Residents are fed up.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown calls the "Chica" cards "a vexing problem that is plaguing our communities."

But he said a law to ban them raises "difficult legal questions under the court's interpretation of the First Amendment."

Well where do I begin with this one? First of all, it's refreshing to see legislators trying to do something that actually benefits their constituents for a change instead of just being full of sound bytes and fury, but signifying nothing. Calling in the Guardian Angels - not the worst idea in the world. It won't cost us anything and they may actually help the situation since goodness knows we don't have enough cops to handle this.

Richard Brown, on the other hand, should have used the opportunity to let the distributors of this smut know that he is investigating and prosecuting them. Instead, he wimped out by hiding behind the first amendment. Sadly, most, if not all of the women working as "chica, chicas" have been abused and likely are the victims of sex trafficking. (Of course if Brown did start a crackdown on whore ads, it would put his friends at one local newspaper out of business.)

Fire site has 200 violations

From NY1:

City officials say an apartment building that caught fire in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan Saturday has been cited for nearly 200 violations.

Flames broke out around 6:30 p.m. on the fifth floor of 607 West 180th Street.

Housing officials say they investigated an earlier complaint about the apartment where the fire started.

An inspector found no violations in that unit -- but there were plenty elsewhere -- with 192 open violations throughout the building's 21 apartments.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Watch yourself in the park

From A Walk in the Park:

A 50 year-old male was attacked 3/27/11 by 4 youths while playing tennis at the World’s Fair Playground (Grand Central Pkwy. & 62nd Dr.) In Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The attack happened just before 10 A.M. The victim was struck in the head and face and suffered cuts and bruises. NYPD and EMS responded to the scene. The man was transported by EMS to Elmhurst Hospital. - Geoffrey Croft

From A Walk in the Park:

A female jogger reported an attempted sexual assault in Forest Park at Union Turnpike & Margaret Pl. at 1:00 P.M. 3/25/11. NYPD (112 Pct) responded to the park to investigate. They searched the area with negative results. - Geoffrey Croft

Sunday, March 27, 2011

When is it OSHA and when is it DOB?

You know things are bad out there when Staten Island writes to you...

"How much did Commissioner LiMandri spend on fliers, written in a multitude of languages, advising workers to wear safety harnesses? Check out how important this is to the Dept of Buildings - they don't even bother to send an inspector out! Turns out that unless someone falls ON THE SIDEWALK (which means it's not a building site-related incident?) the DoB can take as long as ten days to follow up on a complaint." - Jacob Riis

NYC Department of Buildings
Overview for Complaint #:5089668 = RESOLVED
Complaint at: 80 GRANITE AVENUE
BIN: 5026644
ZIP: 10303

DOB District: N/A
Special District:

Received: 02/17/2011 09:02
Block: 1157 Lot: 31
Community Board: 501

Last Inspection:02/17/2011 - - BY BADGE # 0801 Disposition:02/17/2011 - I1 - COMPLAINT UNSUBSTANTIATED BASED ON DEPARTMENT RECORDS

Local schools getting shortchanged

From the NY Times:

In District 24, the heavily crowded area around Corona, Queens, the city’s capital plan last year budgeted new space for 4,300 students; that number has been cut to 2,200. Among the projects that would be delayed are a new gymnasium and classrooms for 120 students at Public School 87 in Middle Village, Queens.

At P.S. 87, students have gym classes in a basement lunchroom, and there are only two bathrooms each for the 600 boys and girls in the school, causing long lines, said Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, who represents the district. “The community has waited more than 10 years for this, and it’s pennies in the scope of things,” Ms. Crowley said.

But she said she was hopeful that the State Legislature would restore some of the financing in the budget negotiations in the coming weeks.

Yes, he's certainly a knucklehead...

From the Daily News:

City Councilman James Sanders of Queens wants New Yorkers to believe he was tricked - practically forced! - into taking out an enormous mortgage he cannot, or will not, pay back.

Identified by the Daily News I-Team as delinquent on his payments, Sanders countered that he was a victim of predatory lending rather than a plain old deadbeat.

It was the bank that lured him into a $588,000 mortgage on a Far Rockaway home in 2006.

It was the bank that made him believe he could afford $3,000-a-month payments.

It was the bank that got annoyed when he stopped sending in checks.

It was the bank that has insisted on foreclosing.

It was the bank that doesn't understand why he should be allowed to stay in the house payment-free after two years.

As Sanders pleaded in court, "My family and I were likely the victims of dishonest, deceitful and ... corrupt lending practices."

So here we have an elected official who purports to be smart enough to write laws while pleading that he was bamboozled into borrowing half a million dollars he could not afford.

How dumb is that?

New York Knucklehead dumb.

Broken hydrants: Either fix 'em or paint 'em!

From the NY Post:

A Brooklyn legislator who has previously proposed several measures to relax parking regulations has a new idea -- allowing parking at broken fire hydrants.

To identify the nonfunctioning hydrants, City Councilman David Greenfield wants the Department of Environmental Protection to paint them green.

For wily drivers thinking about keeping a can of green paint in their trunk, Greenfield, a Democrat, is adding language in his bill to make it illegal for anyone but a city employee to paint a hydrant.

Skeptical city officials say the bill wouldn't open up much curb space, because only 452 of the 109,000 hydrants citywide are inoperative.

How about when the hydrant is missing?

Fraternal organizations losing members

From the Daily News:

A bronze statue of an elk, now green due to decades of oxidation, stands guard in Elmhurst in front of a landmark commonly known as Elks Lodge No. 878.

For generations, the clubhouse hosted charitable and social gatherings until the Elks, whose dwindling membership no longer warranted such a vast space, sold it to a church a few years ago.

The Elks still meet next-door at a smaller facility. But many point to the group's exit from its Queens Blvd. base as a sign of a borough-wide downturn in fraternal organizations and service clubs.

Once signatures of many tight-knit communities across Queens, groups such as the Elks - known for camaraderie and charity work - are struggling to lure new blood and hang on to meeting spots.

Elks aren't alone. Other fraternal groups like the Masons are struggling, too, as are service clubs such as the Kiwanis, the Lions and the Rotary.

Locals fear that the weakening of such organizations diminishes civic pride, as does the demise of other middle-class institutions being profiled in the Vanishing Vintage Queens series.

From the Daily News:

Cutting through blocks of single-family homes in Forest Hills, Metropolitan Ave. embodies the main drags in small towns across the United States, thanks to a library, a post office and banks.

That atmosphere was once also exemplified by the Masonic lodge - until troubled finances forced the owners to sell in 2000 to a bank that then razed the lodge for a parking lot.

Gone is the meeting hall where Freemasons organized and hosted dances, dinners and charity events that signaled a civic pride many say is disappearing across Queens.

All that remains is the lodge's cornerstone, dated 1967, which was rescued by Jim Haddad, a Freemason who attended many functions there. He displays the memento in the yard of his Forest Hills Gardens home.

"The tombstones of fraternal organizations lie throughout Queens, which I suppose is appropriate given the number of graveyards we have," said Haddad, 46. "It really is a problem."

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Geraldine Ferraro 1935-2011

From NBC:

Geraldine A. Ferraro, who earned a place in history in 1984 as the first woman to run on a major party national ticket for vice president, has died. She was 75-years-old.

Ferraro, who was born in Newburgh, New York, passed away today at Massachusetts General Hospital, surrounded by her loved ones, a statement from her family read.

The cause of death was complications from multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that she had battled for twelve years, her family said.

Ms. Ferraro was first elected to Congress from New York's Ninth Congressional District in Queens in 1978, and served three terms in the House of Representatives before being tapped for the Vice Presidential run.

Bloomberg heckled and booed at ceremony

Suzannah's post.
Michael Bloomberg at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire Commemoration (3/25/11)

Numerous speakers were met with cheers by the thousands in attendance at the rally to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire--but not New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg. The pro-labor crowd loudly booed and heckled Bloomberg from start to finish. Bloomberg has rolled back worker benefits, threatened to lay off thousands of teachers, and treats construction accidents as the cost of doing business.

CB7 meeting was session in stupidity

"During tonight's sham CB7 meeting with DOF Commissioner Frankel, Community Board Chair Gene Kelty attempted to have the police remove Bob Friedrich. This was in response to Bob insisting that his voice be heard.

Many of those in attendance asked me who Kelty was and they referred to him as a goon and thug. Has the time come for Kelty to resign?"

Little Neck Patch has more:

Toward the end of Frankel's remarks, Bob Friedrich, president of the Glen Oaks Village Association, objected to what he called the commissioner's "lack of specifics" in terms of the methodology used by the city to determine the value of condos and co-ops.

"All we wanted to know is how you justified such high tax valuation increases in a time when co-op values are declining," Friedrich said. "He [Frankel] gave us nothing."

At one point, according to Friedrich, CB7 chairman Eugene Kelty summoned police officers to escort the longtime co-op president out of the Union Plaza Care Centre in Flushing — the venue for last night's "un-sanctioned" community meeting.

"It was Gene Kelty who was disruptive and disrespectful," said CB7 board member Warren Schreiber, also president of Bay Terrace Co-op No. 1 and the Bay Terrace Civic Association. "Bob Friedrich should have been allowed to have his voice heard."

However, another attendee at last night's gathering, who did not want to be indentified, saw it a different way.

"Kelty's behavior may not have been appropriate, but Bob's was worse," said the source.

Funny how the person criticizing Kelty used his name but the one criticizing Friedrich is "a source". Who is the source - Bitterman or Apelian?

Illegal alien gang bangers pinched by the Feds

From the Wave:

Twenty-five members of the vicious La Maria Salvatrucha (MS-13) South American street gang were indicted this week in federal court in Islip, Long Island, charged with 70 counts of murder, including the death of Mario Alberto Canton Quijada, 25, of Beach Channel Drive, who was found dead with multiple stab wounds on Beach 12 Street in Far Rockaway on March 17 last year.

Two of the men facing federal trial are Roger Alvarado of Queens and Heriberto Martinez of Central Avenue in Far Rockaway. Those two, along with a third, unindicted man, were found on the beach by police. Police say that uniformed officers on patrol on the boardwalk at about 12:34 a.m. on March 17, 2010, spotted three young men on the beach.

The cops went down on the sand to investigate the three and found Quijada with multiple stab wounds to his body.

An ambulance was called and EMS workers declared him dead at the scene.

The three men on the beach with the body were taken into custody and transported to the 101 Precinct in Far Rockaway for questioning.

At the time, local sources conjectured that the murder may have been the result of a fight between rival gang members.

The three men were arrested and transported to Queens Criminal Court for booking.

The three were identified by police as Diego Marroquin, 19, of Mott Avenue; Heriberto Martinez, 23, of Central Avenue and Roger Alvarado, 30, of Queens.

Marroquin and Martinez were charged in Queens Criminal Court with murder and criminal possession of a weapon.

State charges against Alvarado were brought later on, according to court sources.

Martinez is charged in the federal indictment with not only the murder of Quijada, but with an earlier murder in Central Islip (Long Island) in which a woman and her two-year-old son were shot and left in a secluded wooded area on the island.

All of the men are charged with a series of violent crimes, including attempted murder, conspiracy to murder rival gang members and assaults that left a number of people badly injured.

Court documents say that MS-13 is a violent street gang, made up primarily of illegal immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.

Still trying to stop hot sheets motel

From WPIX:

A Queens neighborhood is up in arms after finding out that an hourly motel will be constructed right across the street from the local high school.

The 'Hot Sheet' "is a hotel that charges hourly" said community activist Michael Duncan. "it's not good for children."

So far the community is winning, a stop work ordered has been issued because the developer failed to complete the foundation in the permit's time frame.

But these parents and concerned residents aren't resting, meeting at Saint Peter Lutheran church Thursday in anticipation that the developer will go before the board of standards and appeals to try and get an extension.

"We have elected officials that see this in our backyard." said Jacques Leandre who was angry none attended the Thursday evening meeting.

Vibrant and diverse voodoo granny

From CBS:

A New York City grandmother of a 6-year-old girl who was severely burned in a voodoo ritual has admitted she did nothing to stop it.

Sylvenie Thessier, of Queens, pleaded guilty Wednesday to endangering the welfare of a child. Under a plea deal, she faces three years in prison.

Prosecutors said the child’s mother, Marie Lauradin, sprayed the girl with rum and set her on fire in June 2009 to rid her of evil spirits.

They said the 71-year-old grandmother later doused the girl with water and put her to bed without seeking medical help.

The girl’s mother was set to go on trial on charges of assault and endangering the welfare of a child.

Shady limo driver assaults home owner

"Ecstasy Limo assault video. Thinking about using Ecstasy Limo? They routinely park illegally, block driveways, drive on sidewalks and block the driveway to the Chase bank on Metropolitan Avenue. Here is a video of one of the drivers assaulting my husband for videotaping his limo parked illegally. Assault occurred 3/25/11 at 8:40 pm Queens, NY."

Previously featured on Queens Crap Reserved Parking on Metro

Why hasn't the city closed this operation down yet?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Grin and bear it!

It's the end of a looooong week, folks. Why not blow off some steam by commenting on this gem of a photo?

Where's the outrage?

From the Times Ledger:

Seven small businesses along Queens Boulevard will not see their monthly leases renewed and will have to clear out of the block above the Continental Avenue subway station to make way for a large national tenant.

The businesses, some of which have been at the same location for nearly 30 years, will have to leave the premises as part of a long-term development plan by Cord Meyer, the owners of the property. But a Key Food on one end will remain open.

“The whole building will be demolished,” said Anthony Colletti, a spokesman for the company. “The new building will be built one story high and house a national retailer.”

Rumors that CVS will be the next tenant were neither confirmed by Colletti nor the pharmacy.

Where are the protests over the loss of small businesses? Why were no elected officials quoted in this article?

Coming soon: crap?


163rd Street off 35th Avenue, Broadway/Flushing-north.

What's "coming soon" as the sign proclaims?

This beautiful old home featuring all of its original stained glass windows intact is up for sale.

Remax's diva of disgust Judy Markowitz is at it once again.

Talk about crapping in your own yard...although she lives in Broadway-Flushing she's apparently willing to sell sell out her own nabe."

Bayside Diner making a comeback

From Bayside Patch:

The Bayside Diner is set to reopen in a few months, according to local restauranteur, Elias Katsihtis, who said he will be part owner of the new venture, along with his brother, Spiros Katsihtis.

The Diner reportedly closed its doors last year a few months before Scobee Diner in Little Neck did the same.

The brothers say they will reopen it with the same name, and serve a similar menu.

So there won't be a million more people by 2030?

From the NY Post:

The feds say Brooklyn’s population grew by a scant 1.6 percent while Queens’ barely budged, up just 0.1 percent, which translates to 1,300 people since 2000. Other boroughs averaged about a 4 percent jump.

Overall, the city claims New York’s population is 8.4 million, compared to the census bureau’s estimate of 8.175 million.

The discrepancy could mean hundreds of millions in lost federal aid, and city officials vowed to fight to force the feds to revise the numbers upward.

City officials say other census numbers simply don’t add up. They point out that about 170,000 new housing units have sprung up in the past decade – while the census says the population increased by only about 166,000.

Well there are an awful lot of empty luxury units and unsold craphouses, in case you haven't noticed. Now, either your prediction of a million more people by 2030 is full of shit, or no one can truly estimate the number of people in our sanctuary city full of illegal conversions. Imagine that.

Hideous local homes

Read 'em and weep (or vomit)...

The Fug Chronicles: The Ugliest Homes For Sale in Queens

Astoria Ugly

That's Rather Hideous: Astoria Building Makes a Case for Queens's Biggest Botchjob

We've garnered quite the reputation for Queens Crap.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Weiner wants more banks in poor areas

From the Times Ledger:

Low-income neighborhoods in the borough suffer from a lack of banks, and it is up to the federal government to coax more lending institutions into opening offices in underserved areas, U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Forest Hills) said in Forest Hills Monday.

Weiner released a study claiming that the borough’s banks are concentrated in the wealthy neighborhoods and that the lack of banks in poorer areas deprives those residents of credit for small businesses and personal loans.

“We need to start doing this based on where the money is needed, not where the money already is,” Weiner said. “In South Jamaica we have a great deal of demand.”

Yet since 2006, only one bank has been built in that neighborhood — which has a $39,000 median household income — bringing the grand total to one.

Banks generally open in areas where they can loan out money, Anthony. Last time they gave loans out to people who couldn't afford to pay them back, we ended up with a recession, housing bust and a lot of foreclosures.

Council members are not great money managers

From the Daily News:

The City Council manages your tax dollars through the city budget, but for some lawmakers, managing their own money has been a disaster.

The homes of Queens Councilmen James Sanders, a Democrat, and Daniel Halloran, a Republican, are now in foreclosure.

Two years before her first Council run in March 2001, Elizabeth Crowley (D-Queens) emerged from personal bankruptcy.

Rickert-Finlay wins again

Some smarty-ass bought a gracious old Dutch colonial home on an oversize plot in Broadway Flushing located on the southeast corner of 163rd Street and 35th Avenue.
He planned to demolish it and build two houses there, but the intrepid Broadway Flushing Homeowners Association promptly took him to court to enforce their deed restrictions which only allow one house on that piece of land.

They won their case, as usual.
The judge allowed the demolition of the existing old home but enforced the Rickert Finlay covenants which run with the land in perpetuity.

Now the greedy owner is left holding the bag with an empty lot he has to either unload or build a single family home on.


Don't-cha just love the smell of victory in the morning?

It smells like the owner's money burning.
- The Flushing Phantom

Whitestone & Flushing rezonings

From the Times Ledger:

Community Board 7 voted overwhelmingly Monday to support a downtown Flushing auto shop owner’s proposal to rezone his property to allow for it to be redeveloped as a mid-sized, mixed-use building.

Mark Solow, owner of Crown Auto Parts, which has been at 139-01 Northern Blvd. for generations, presented plans for a “hypothetical building” at the hearing.

The plans, which call for a six-story, 52,570-square-foot edifice, are an example of what he said he hopes to build there if the city approves the change from manufacturing to mixed-use residential zoning.

But Solow is not bound to those plans, though he agreed to a “gentlemen’s agreement” with CB 7 requesting that he come back before the board if he wants to make major changes or sell the 11,000-square-foot site.

From the Queens Chronicle:

Whitestone Lumber has agreed to lease its space to TD Bank, but the bank wants the location on 14th Avenue near the Cross Island Parkway upzoned. Residents in the community want less commercialization and are fighting the rezoning.

Whitestone residents have heard it before, and in a case of seeming deja vu, a business is seeking to upzone a block for a commercial enterprise.

TD Bank wants to build on the triangular-shaped property now occupied by Whitestone Lumber Corp., at 148-02 14 Ave., just off the Cross Island Parkway. The bank, which will lease the site and build a new structure, is seeking a C1-2 overlay that affects two plots, including an auto repair business that has a Board of Standards and Appeals special permit.

The issue will be heard at a Community Board 7 hearing on April 11, but at a Land Use Committee meeting last week, neighbors indicated their opposition to the plan. Marlene Cody, vice president of the Greater Whitestone Taxpayers Civic Association, said members don’t wany any more upzoning in the community.

Cody noted her group had worked hard to get the area downzoned and believes if the project is approved, it will have a domino effect for further commercialization.

Bemberlinx dismembered

It's not easy being a fake holiday teddy bear topiary... every new year, you fall to pieces.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Steinway contents for sale

The contents of the Steinway Mansion are now on sale, including the infamous voodoo mask found in the attic. Visit Capo Auctions for more details and to bid.