Thursday, May 31, 2012

Nanny Bloomberg at it again

From the NY Times:

New York City plans to enact a far-reaching ban on the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks at restaurants, movie theaters and street carts, in the most ambitious effort yet by the Bloomberg administration to combat rising obesity.

The proposed ban would affect virtually the entire menu of popular sugary drinks found in delis, fast-food franchises and even sports arenas, from energy drinks to pre-sweetened iced teas. The sale of any cup or bottle of sweetened drink larger than 16 fluid ounces — about the size of a medium coffee, and smaller than a common soda bottle — would be prohibited under the first-in-the-nation plan, which could take effect as soon as next March.

The measure would not apply to diet sodas, fruit juices, dairy-based drinks like milkshakes, or alcoholic beverages; it would not extend to beverages sold in grocery or convenience stores.

Taxpayers ripped off in 911 upgrade

From the Office of the Comptroller:

According to an audit released today by City Comptroller John C. Liu, the contractor selected to streamline the City’s vital 911 call system was unqualified and so poorly monitored that it was able to overbill taxpayers by as much as $163 million. Because of the severity of the findings and potential for fraud in both the vendor selection and billing processes, Comptroller Liu has referred the matter to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office for further review.

This follows a previous audit released by Comptroller Liu in March that found the Emergency Communications Transformation Program (ECTP) had only one component up and running, was seven years behind schedule, and a billion dollars over budget.

Today’s audit found that severe mismanagement by DoITT has resulted in the City taxpayers not getting what they paid for. In fact, the systems integration portion of the much needed 911 upgrade could cost an additional $362 million, with taxpayers entitled to as much as $163 million in restitution.

Rally to save Engine 294 in Richmond Hill

From Forest Hills Patch:

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the City Council are playing a familiar game of political hot-foot with the city's firehouses.

Twenty firehouses are on the chopping block in New York City in the mayor's current budget, the same number that have ended up there in previous years, only to be saved by eleventh-hour wrangling.

In the past, U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner and City Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz have fought to save Engine 294 on Jamaica Avenue, which serves parts of Forest Hills. It was closed once already in the city's history, from 1975 to 1991.

On Tuesday, the engine company was the site of a rally with City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, Assembly members Mike Miller and Rory Lancman, and state Sen Joe Addabbo.

City killing birds at JFK but building bird magnet at LGA

From WPIX:

After U.S. Airways Flight 1549 cruised to a perfect splash landing and Captain "Sully" Sullenberger made sure all 150 people got off the plane alive, passengers started paying attention to just how deadly birds over an airport can be.

But now the F.A.A. is turning a blind eye to the problem, basically saying in a federal court of appeals today that their hands are tied to stop potentially deadly bird strikes at LaGuardia Airport.

The problem all stems over New York's City's bid to build a giant trash transfer station across Flushing Bay. It's close to finished--and no one seems to be able to stop it.

Anyone who's ever seen trash in action knows it's a magnet for birds, which see it as food. New York City has been embroiled in an on-going fight to get its North Shore Transfer Station, which will host 3,500 tons daily of New York garbage just 700 yards from LaGuardia's runways, up and running. It's largely built now, and should be on-line within a year.

Randy Mastro is a former Deputy Mayor for the City of New York. He's an attorney too. "That's a grave concern. It's a disaster waiting to happen. It's a monumentally bad idea," intoned Mastro, pulling no punches.

And now he's going up against the F.A.A. in court to point out since they give NYC millions of dollars a year to run and build stuff at LaGuardia, they can tell NYC not to put a trash facility really near by, bringing in flocks of killer birds.

But the F.A.A. doesn't see it that way. Their lawyers argued in court today that NYC doesn't actually own LaGuardia. The land under LaGuardia, sure. But not the airport. Therefore, the F.A.A. can't tell the City what to do to keep passengers safe. And yes, you guessed where this is going, the F.A.A. won't hold the Port Authority (they run the airport) accountable either. For some similarly inscrutable reasons.

Bottom line: The F.A.A., which doles out hundreds of millions in tax dollars every year (your money), won't tell a city that what it's doing is possibly endangering lives. Because of some really difficult to understand funding/accountability rules.

New online parking guide

From Crains:

New York City is launching an online map that will show drivers where and when it's legal to park.

The Department of Transportation and City Council officials announced the launch of the map Tuesday. The map is meant to help motorists decipher the parking rules for any block in the city.

City Councilman James Vacca, chairman of the Transportation Committee, says in a statement that the city's parking regulations can be as difficult to understand as morse code.

City Councilman Dan Garodnick says the idea for the map came from his mother, and he hopes it will save drivers some headaches.

Users can search the map by intersection or address. The map will show alternate-side parking schedules and other parking rules.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Interesting transportation choices

Flushing Avenue, Maspeth

Metropolitan Avenue, Ridgewood

Ackerman chooses Meng - for financial gain?

From the NY Times:

Representative Gary L. Ackerman, who unexpectedly announced in March that he would not seek re-election to Congress, is venturing into the primary contest to succeed him, backing the candidate he says best embodies his values: Assemblywoman Grace Meng.

Mr. Ackerman’s decision, to be announced Tuesday morning at the Pomonok Senior Center in Flushing, Queens, was hardly assured, given his reputation as an eccentric politician not known for regularly making endorsements. And while some political analysts assumed that Mr. Ackerman favored Ms. Meng, the choice of Representative Joseph Crowley and the Queens Democratic establishment, his pledge to campaign vigorously on her behalf could help sway constituents who have supported him during his nearly 30-year career.

Mr. Ackerman, in an interview, praised Ms. Meng’s chief competitors in the June 26 primary, Assemblyman Rory I. Lancman and City Councilwoman Elizabeth S. Crowley. Indeed, Mr. Ackerman said that all three were “philosophically close to the same place” on key issues like Israel and economic advocacy for the middle class.

But in what could be viewed as critiques of Mr. Lancman, an aggressive legislator who once mulled challenging Mr. Ackerman, and Ms. Crowley, whose candidacy has soured her relationship with her cousin, Congressman Crowley, Mr. Ackerman, 69, said that Ms. Meng’s self-effacing style and background as a fellow child of immigrants had won him over.

From City and State:

In a much-hyped press conference yesterday in Queens, veteran Congressman Gary Ackerman endorsed Assemblywoman Grace Meng to be his successor in Washington, D.C. – but did not bring up the fact that he has a financial interest in Meng’s campaign.

In a sometimes heated interview after the event, Ackerman did confirm that he is a part-owner of the Queens-based political consulting and printing firm Multi-Media, which is serving as the primary consultant to Meng’s well-funded congressional campaign.

Ackerman told City & State repeatedly that the financial relationship with Meng’s campaign had no role in the endorsement, which was described by the New York Times as “hardly assured” because of Ackerman’s reputation as an eccentric who does not usually back candidates.

“Did it affect my endorsement? No,” Ackerman said, acknowledging that he was aware of Meng’s business relationship with the consulting firm he co-owns before making his endorsement decision. “[Multi-Media] doesn’t run my life and I don’t run their business.”

Did you hear the joke about Megaprojects and affordable housing?

From the Wall Street Journal:

The promise of more than 4,000 units of low- and middle-income housing was a significant selling point for two of the city's largest new developments, Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn and Willets Point in Queens.

Today, they are moving forward, but the housing pieces have been pushed back for years behind other portions of the multibillion-dollar projects, as the boom-era visions are proving to be difficult to see through in a slowly recovering economy.

In recent weeks, the Bloomberg administration reached a tentative deal with the Related Cos. and Sterling Equities to redevelop a large industrial swath of land at Willets Point, in a plan that now calls for housing to be built as a third step with a groundbreaking by 2025, according to people familiar with the matter. The companies would first spend years building a hotel and a large retail center in the area before moving on to constructing the housing in an unproven and polluted site near Citi Field.

At Atlantic Yards, the project's centerpiece basketball arena is nearing completion. But developer Forest City Ratner Cos. has yet to begin any of the 6,400 units of housing it once anticipated being built by 2016—2,250 of which would be for low- and middle-income families. Forest City has cited higher than expected costs and an inclement market, although it plans to break ground this year on its first building with 175 below-market-rate units.

The delays have frustrated officials and given fuel to critics o
f the project, which went through a contested public approval process before the recession.

Astoria's new crime fighting program

From DNA Info:

Astoria is armed with dozens of newly trained block-watch experts ready to rein in the neighborhood's 5 percent uptick in major crime.

The neighborhood watch — the first of its kind in Astoria in more than 25 years — is set to become "extra eyes and ears for police officers," officials said.

It's the brainchild of Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., who posted the idea on Facebook and other sites in November and organized the first training session last week.

Last week, volunteers were given block-watcher IDs, trained how to detect suspicious behavior and activity — and instructed how to give useful specifics when they call 311 or 911. Local officials said they hope the program will soon expand beyond 30 volunteers.

Major crime in the 114th Precinct is up about 5 percent this year through May 20, according to NYPD statistics.

Even paper has street value

From the NY Post:

City sanitation cops are following a paper trail to bust a new breed of thieves.

Sly scrap bandits have taken to swiping bags of paper and cardboard left on curbs for the city’s Sanitation Department, following a dramatic rise in the value of the recyclable material, officials said.

Mixed paper has more than doubled in price over the past two years, going from around $40 a ton to as high as $120.

That huge price increase has been fueled by dwindling amounts of paper ending up in the recycling bin, as consumers switch to electronic forms of communication.

“When you approach this value, it becomes a market for unsavory characters,” said Hank Levin, whose Pratt Industries on Staten Island handles half the city’s curb-side paper pickup.

“[Thieves] can take a couple of tons off of the street in a night and get about $250.”

Cops with the city’s Department of Sanitation this year have already impounded 49 vehicles — mostly vans and small, rented moving trucks — for allegedly being used to pilfer bags of mixed paper off the streets.

That’s up from last year, when only 40 vehicles were impounded for similar crimes over 12 months.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Queens GOP under FBI investigation

From the NY Post:

The FBI is investigating the Queens Republican Party, its consultants and at least three people it recommended to the city Board of Elections, according to sources recently quizzed by federal agents.

The probe appears to be focused on how board employees may have used their official positions to further their careers as political consultants, as well as their party’s ambitions in local primary elections.

Board employees are recommended by both political parties in each of the five boroughs and are hired by board commissioners.

The names of at least three employees recommended by the Queens GOP — including Stephen Graves, whom the board suspended in April after being caught on tape soliciting cash from a company seeking a contract — came up in questions posed by the FBI, the sources said.

One source said Queens GOP Chairman Philip Ragusa and Executive Vice Chairman Vincent Tabone pushed a board official out of her job for not taking a rival, Myrna Littlewort, off the ballot during a state committee leadership race.

The official, Katherine James, the board’s former deputy chief clerk, said, “They wanted Myrna off the ballot, and there was no way I could do that fair and square.”

The federal probe stems from reports in The Post detailing politicians’ complaints that Queens GOP consultants tried milking them for cash, according to two sources interviewed by the feds.

Crowley caught cheating at debate

From the Daily News:

Congressional contender Elizabeth Crowley seemed overly preoccupied with her cell phone during a recent Queens candidate debate, prompting at least one member of the audience to question whether the Councilwoman was getting answers via the mobile from her staff in the audience.

Crowley can be seen checking her cell phone nearly 20 times during the Kissena Park Civic Association debate last Thursday, according to a video link provide the Daily News and posted on YouTube.

Crowley is busy typing and reading her cell as the other hopefuls for the re-drawn 6th Congressional District in Queens grappled with debate questions.

"At first, I thought she was Googling answers or something, but she kept looking at her people in the audience, so I think she was getting answers and information," said a civic leader who also filmed the debate.

"At the very least, it was amazingly rude, and stupid not to give your full focus to the debate," said the videographer, who has not officially endorsed any candidate but did applaud Assemblyman Rory Lancman's proposed bills tackling community overdevelopment.

"If I saw Lancman do this, I would call him out, or any of the other candidates.," he said. "A congressional seat is too important to have someone seemingly getting fed answers."

Crowley's spokesman said such allegations were absurd, and untrue.

"She was using her phone to take notes on the questions," said spokesman Eric Yun. "Other candidates had pen and paper, but she was taking notes on her phone."

Why would she need to take notes if her communications director/spokesman was in the audience? Wouldn't he be doing that for her?

The NY-6 congressional candidates on overdevelopment

Fix the garbage problem already!

Dear Councilman Leroy Comrie, Queens Borough President Helen M. Marshall, Senator Malcolm Smith, Assemblymember Rory Lancman, Iggy Terranova, Community Board #12 Members and Other Concerned Individuals:

I have been complaining since approximately March of 2011 in regards to the garbage/litter problem in Jamaica, Queens and to very little avail, especially certain problem areas that I have brought up in the past. I will continue to contact all of you until something finally gets done in regards to this major problem in Jamaica, Queens.

The problem areas that are in close proximity to where I live are the following (attached is a video of the problem areas as well as a link below to the video):

Problem Garbage/Litter Areas:

1. NW corner of 170th St & 90th Avenue: An empty lot with a wire fence that has garbage inside and always on the outside on the sidewalk. This one I have been complaining about since early 2011 and nothing has been done. The owner came out one time in the summer of 2011, put some garbage in garbage bags and left the garbage bags in the lot. Other garbage and litter was swept underneath all of the weeds in the lot. I actually watched all of this happen. The owner of the lot never comes out to clean the outside sidewalks surrounding the lot which are constantly having litter dumped and then piles up. I have been out there many times to clean that area.

2. 170-17 89th Avenue: Another empty lot with a wooden fence which garbage has been dumped in front of it. I have been complaining for several weeks regarding this and no one has cleaned this up. In the meantime, the garbage continues to pile up.

3.Block 9803 on 90th Avenue between 170th & 169th Street: Another empty lot with a wooden fence that has garbage tossed in front of it. Again I have been complaining about this for many months and garbage continues to pile up and the owner has rarely been out to take care of this. This was the same lot in which the large wooden fence was falling down and I had filed complaint on this so many times to no avail. It was Howard Thompson from "Help Me Howard" who came out and did a story on this issue and got it resolved.

4. LIRR Tunnel on 170th Street between 93rd Avenue and Archer Avenue: This is a notorious dumping ground for not only regular garbage and litter, but big items such as mattresses, shopping carts, tires, garbage bags, wood, etc (which can be seen in my video). This is a major problem area for illegal dumping and an area which should be monitored or at the very lease have warning signs up.

These are just a few areas that are within a close distant to where I live. There are many areas all over Jamaica like this and worse. This seems to be the only area in Queens that has a problem of this magnitude and also does not get addressed or resolved.

Please watch the video that I made on May 27th showing the above areas plus some other areas with this garbage situation.

Will anyone stand up and do something about this ongoing major problem? I realize that many of the people who live in this area (and the influx of immigrants) have no regard to their environment and treat this neighborhood like a garbage dump. I also realize that many owners of these vacant lots take no responsibility for these properties, but the city's response to this issue is extremely poor and seems to take no action or very little action against the owners of these vacant and abandoned lots.

This situation is a total disgrace which would not happen in other areas of Queens. Some of you are the leaders and public servant in our community and I want to know how can you allow this situation to have gotten to this point and further more why are you not doing something about it. You all should hold your heads in shame on this issue.


Joe Moretti

Ozone Park neighbors go from bad to worse

"I have a recurring chronic problem that I need your help with (as I asked in the past), the crap neighbors next door to me at 93-45 ______ are at it once again.It used to be that they had a loud party about once a month, but they've been out there four consecutive weekends. The cops did come by and quiet them on 5/12, but they were right back at it the next weekend.That's bad enough, but yesterday they resumed burning wood for their BBQ (they place a caldron on top). Last summer, they burnt an old bed-frame!

And now for the daily annoyance: their bottle and can recycling business. This can start before 6 AM and run to midnight. They store their garbage as far away from their house as possible. Which means it's kept right next to the fence that adjoins my property. This smelly mix brings about little - and not so little - rodents which makes me fearful for my dogs. Who know what the rodents might drop (and do)? Today, I had to chase off a mouse that wanted to come into my house! Arghh!!! And, rain is no deterrent to their garbage picking as you can see from the pic below taken less than an hour ago.

I've placed calls to 311 for years about this house and not a damn thing changes. These "people" simply don't care about anyone else but themselves.

My apologies if this message isn't as lucid as it should be, but I'm f^&*#*g pissed off, severely stressed and sick and tired of this constant destruction of our quality of life. Especially since there's enough other crap going on around here that we have to endure.

I'd love to move, but to where and with what money?? And what's not to say that there's another family of a-holes waiting there?

My wife is afraid of retaliation on their part if we complain (we've already had some trouble along these lines), but why the hell should we be forced to live this way? - Rich Parkwood

PS My nice neighbors (on the other side of my house) think that they are renting out beds like a hostel. I wasn't sure about that idea until I saw three unfamiliar backpackers arrive yesterday evening."

More photos here.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day in Woodhaven

DEC allowing the fox to watch the henhouse?

From the Gotham Gazette:

Industries that use pesticides, treat wastewater and store hazardous chemicals could have penalties for breaking pollution laws reduced or waived if they agree to self-report violations under a policy being considered by New York’s leading environmental regulator.

Any entity that enters into an agreement with the state Department of Environmental Conservation to self-audit would also “not be prioritized for inspection during the audit period,” stated a draft of the proposed policy obtained by the Gotham Gazette.

The proposed policy was expected to be discussed at the DEC's regional directors meeting earlier today.

The DEC regulates sources of air and water pollution, including private industry, agricultural uses, and municipal facilities like waste transfer stations and sewage treatment plants. It is responsible for enforcing over 40 New York State environmental laws and over 50 federal laws, including provisions of the Clean Air and Clean Water acts. The agency would also be charged with regulating hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale.

The self-audit policy, described in a draft document dated May 14, would apply to any private business or public entity, including federal, state and municipal agencies and facilities, which are regulated under state environmental law.

A self-audit, however, “is not required for disclosure and may not be warranted in certain circumstances,” the document states. Environmental violations involving suspected criminal conduct would not be eligible for a penalty waiver.

Further, the DEC would conduct an inspection if it receives “a complaint concerning the regulated entity or have reason to believe that a violation has occurred resulting in serious actual harm.”

DEC Executive Deputy Commissioner Marc Gerstman said the goal of the proposed policy was to promote compliance with environmental laws.

Vicky's colossal mistake

Instead of Astoria Boulevard, where the pro-life center is located, whoever typed this up accidentally put in "Abortion Boulevard."

Council Member says fare-beating not a big deal

From the Daily News:

There's a time and a place for everything — even farebeating, in one City Councilman’s opinion.

Councilman Robert Jackson said he told his wife to duck under the turnstiles at the 181st St. station on the A line, which had a broken MetroCard machine, rather than walk to a staffed entrance at 184th St.

“I told her to go under,” Jackson said. “I would have gone under.

“Whoever goes to buy a MetroCard should be entitled to a free ride if the machines aren’t working, if there’s no token booth clerk there,” he added.

The MTA swiped back.

“Farebeating is a crime,” MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg said. “It’s wrong. It’s illegal, and it deprives the MTA of the money it needs to carry you on the subway.”

Another Crowley's Memorial Day gaffe

Hey Joe, is "happy" really an appropriate word to use for this solemn day? Have you forgotten what Memorial Day is supposed to be about?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Crowley campaign in desperate need of proofreader

"Grammar's not my forte but this looks wrong. I found it in the Queens Chronicle." - anonymous

Yupster guide to LIC

Here you go, folks. Apparently this is a TV series. The latest installment is about LIC. Too bad the "expert tour guide" they interviewed in the first segment doesn't know that the graffiti artists' building has been called 5 Pointz for more than a decade and that the Phun Phactory moved to Brooklyn. Makes you wonder what other bullshit official tour guides are telling tourists that don't know any better. No mention that LIC still lacks basic amenities. But you can booze it up on a fake beach. Now that's living.

Pols place their bets on sports gambling

From the NY Post:

A Queens lawmaker wants to legalize betting on professional sports in New York — and his proposed legislation has the backing of one of the state’s top prosecutors, Brooklyn DA Charles “Joe” Hynes, The Post has learned.

State Sen. Tony Avella’s bill would allow betting on baseball, football, basketball, hockey and soccer at the Aqueduct and Yonkers racinos and all casinos across the state, as well as off-track betting parlors outside the city.

Currently, only betting on horse racing is legal.

Such legalized betting in the sports-crazed Big Apple could become a cash cow for the state, where fans passionately follow — and often illegally bet on — the Yankees, Mets, Giants, Jets Knicks and Rangers.

Citing a study conducted by the New York City Partnership five years ago, Democrat Avella said betting on pro sports would generate more than $2 billion.

He said the state’s cut from the racino sports book would go to fund schools.

“We have to think out of the box. I’d rather come up with revenue this way rather than raising property taxes,” said Avella.

He claimed said studies show illegal sports betting generates more than $100 billion nationally and as much as $15 billion to $30 billion in New York City alone — much of it feeding organized crime.

And that’s why Hynes is supporting the measure. He said sports betting should be regulated by the government and benefit the public, not crooks.

ICCC project raises its ugly head again

From the Times Ledger:

Since its attempt to acquire more land on the Creedmoor Psychiatric Campus in Bellerose fell through last year, the Indian Cultural and Community Center is hoping to provide alternative access to its proposed developments, but the community is reluctant to approve anything before investigations into the center’s controversial dealings are concluded.

The center is now looking for approval from the city Board of Standards and Appeals to provide access through a vehicular easement on the eastern side of the property by 82nd Avenue.

Due to a scheduling conflict, the community board’s Land Use Committee report was not available Monday, so members could not vote on the application, although the surrounding controversies seemed to be enough to put them off on from taking any position on the center’s dealings.

“Given the fact that we have never had any closure on any investigations that are taking place within the state, I feel that we are not in a position to vote either way on anything regarding this,” said CB 13 member Charlie Farruggia.

When the state’s legislative lines were redrawn earlier this year, the Creedmoor Campus was removed from state Sen. Tony Avella’s (D-Bayside) district and placed in Sen. Malcolm Smith’s (D-St. Albans).

Avella has been a vocal critic of the original land deal, and Smith introduced the bill on the second one, though he later pulled his support.

Mob-owned firm off Columbia project

From the Daily News:

The mob-linked demolition company running jobs on which two workers have died as part of Columbia’s West Harlem expansion has been booted from the project, the Daily News has learned.

Brooklyn-based Breeze National, which was demolishing a building on W. 131st St. that collapsed in March, killing one worker and injuring two others, is no longer on the job at the Manhattanville construction site.

Breeze has been doing work at six additional properties on the 17-acre expansion site, according to records.

Juan Vicente Ruiz, Sr., 69, died when a wall of the building came crashing down in March. His family is now suing the Ivy League school, charging the construction site was unsafe.

Inspectors had issued a previous stop work order and assessed Breeze with violations for failing to notify the city that it was starting demolition and failing to properly safeguard the people and property that were affected.

It wasn’t the first time a Breeze National worker died on a Columbia demolition job. Two years ago, 51-year-old Jozef Wilk fell to his death while demolishing a Columbia-owned building on Broadway.

Breeze spokeswoman Sarah Berman declined to comment on the firm’s removal, but said “it has not been deemed they did anything wrong” in connection with the March collapse, adding that the cause was likely a structural defect.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Quinn apparently has a lot to hide

From NY1:

NY1 received Council Speaker Christine Quinn's schedules through a Freedom of Information Law request.

More than 600 hours were blacked out. Hours council officials say include events that if disclosed would be an unwarranted invasion of the speaker's personal privacy.

They could be instances when she goes to spinning class in TriBeCa. They could also be certain instructions to staff or interagency deliberations that aren't finalized.

"It seems that there might have been names, names of staff members for example, public employees, other people that Ms. Quinn might have met that did involve the performance of her duties," said Robert Freeman of the State Committee on Open Government. "It would be difficult to understand why those names would be redacted."

The schedules do reveal that Quinn has met with at least four campaign fundraisers during the work week. Half were in the council's offices.

Liu not invited to the party

From the NY Post:

The New York State Democratic Party denied embattled city Comptroller John Liu a slot to attend the 2012 convention in Charlotte, NC, this summer to nominate President Obama for re-election, The Post has learned.

The federal criminal probe of Liu’s campagn finances played a role in the decision not to name the comptroller as an at-large delegate, sources said.

“It certainly didn’t help,” said one party insider.

A Liu spokesman confirmed he was frozen out.

“John is heartbroken that he won’t be able to help renominate President Obama, but he will continue to campaign vigorously for his re-election in every way possible,” said Liu campaign spokesman George Arzt.

Gov. Cuomo had a say in who was named delegates, and who wasn’t.

Lancman promises federal action against overdevelopment

From the Times Ledger:

[Assembly Member Rory] Lancman...stood with civic leaders in Bowne Park Friday to discuss the proposed Homes and Essential Landmarks Preservation Act aimed at combatting overdevelopment at the federal level, which Lancman would look to enact if he wins the Congressional election.

The HELP Act would limit tax deductions for property owners not in compliance with zoning laws, promote tax credits for properties listed in the National Historic Register, fund the city and state’s zoning enforcement, and clarify the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act to ensure religious institutions do not ignore zoning regulations.

“Overdevelopment destroys the character of our communities,” Lancman said. “The HELP Act is a federal solution to the proliferation of McMansions, improperly zoned offices, inappropriate commercial development and overly large community facilities where single-family homes and small businesses once stood, and the desecration of historic sites and neighborhoods by developers who put profits ahead of the interest of residents.”

Bloomberg a little testy after being caught breaking rule

From Eyewitness News:

No amount of City Hall spin could change what the video reveals: A Mayor repeatedly violating a city-imposed noise curfew at an East side heliport.

So after two Eyewitness News reports documenting Mayor Bloomberg's noisy weekend intrusions, 8 in just one weekend, he announced he would use another heliport.

Dr. Ron Sticco, a fed up resident who recorded the scofflaw Mayor's helicopter movements, says he's pleased with Bloomberg's decision:

"This is about respecting the community and abiding by the rules. I'm happy but I really wish it had never come to anything like this," Sticco said.
The Mayor could now end up using the city-owned Wall Street heliport, which is open during weekends. An obviously miffed Mayor brushed off the entire curfew controversy:

"Don't know why it's such a big deal. If that's the news that's fit to print in this day in age, it's a sad day," he said.

But the Sticcos and others say when the Mayor, a man of great wealth and power, behaves as though rules don't apply to him and then gets caught - that they say is newsworthy.

Residents say for an urgent matter or an emergency, no one would blame the mayor for using the heliport, but 8 times in one weekend, they say shows blind arrogance.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Wooden planks ok for Rockaway but not Coney

From The Brooklyn Paper:

A city decision to repair an outer-borough boardwalk with wood has opponents of the Coney Island Boardwalk’s upcoming concrete makeover accusing the Parks Department of turning back on its word.

Agency officials have said repeatedly that repairing city boardwalks with wood was no longer a viable option — sparking the move to replace the iconic Coney Island Boardwalk with concrete and plastic lumber.

But the city began repairing a 10-block stretch of the longer, but far less exciting, Rockaway boardwalk with lumber last week — a move that has Coney Boardwalk advocates spitting nails.

But city officials say they’re not flip-flopping.

“Under a full reconstruction of the Rockaway boardwalk, we would consider using concrete,” said Parks Department spokeswoman Meghan Lalor, who said repairs on the Rockaway boardwalk, which drew 3.6 million visitors last year, will replace planks Hurricane Irene turned into kindling last year.

A one-mile section of the 5.5-mile walk has already been paved over with concrete, Lalor noted.

All on board for new power plant

From DNA Info:

Residents and officials usually oppose bids by power plants in this Queens neighborhood, which they say has suffered from pollution and high asthma rates for years.

But this time they have thrown their support behind NRG's move to replace its generators to cut peak emissions by 98 percent.

Smart Power NY, a coalition of elected officials and community leaders, formed in April to promote the NRG's bid for a deal to sell power to the grid, which is necessary to obtain financing for the $1.5 billion project.

The group is trying to garner as much support from state and federal officials as possible ahead of May 30 deadline, organizers said at a meeting in Astoria Wednesday night.

The Princeton, N.J.-based company wants to replace 31 decades-old generators, which are currently using primarily oil, with four new units, which would use mostly natural gas.

The switch would allow the company to increase energy production from 600 Megawatts to 1040 Megawatts, increasing generation efficiency by 56 percent while reducing on-site peak day emissions by 98 percent, according to NRG.

Company officials also said the project would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1 million tons each year, the equivalent of removing 185,000 cars from New York City’s streets.

City Council comes up with more stupidity

From NY1:

The City Council is proposing letter grades for the city's subway stations.

During a Transportation Committee hearing Wednesday, Councilmember Peter Koo suggested the agency should come up with letter grades similar to those issued to restaurants for each of the 468 subway stations.

The committee's chairman, Bronx Councilman James Vacca, says he plans to introduce a non-binding resolution urging the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to do so.

"We rate the restaurants and every takeout place. Why can't we rate stations on cleanliness, water, garbage, graffiti? That's a good idea, councilmember, I'm with you," Vacca said.

MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota says the agency does not have the money for station letter grades.

The MTA does publish station cleanliness ratings by line and borough but does not break down the information station-by-station.

Forest Park carousel reopens tomorrow

From the Daily News:

The Forest Park Carousel, a turn-of-the-century treasure shuttered since 2008, is ready for a whole new generation of riders.

The historic amusement opens its doors to the public on Saturday and the new operators are hoping crowds will come to savor old memories and make some new ones.

The carousel, crafted by master carver Daniel Carl Muller, was first brought to Forest Park in the 1970s to replace one that burned down in 1966.

In 1989, it underwent a meticulous restoration but has languished while under the care of previous concessionaires, who griped it generated little revenue.

In the few weeks since the Parks Department gave NY Carousel the nod to operate the site, the improvements are noticeable.

The wood floors has been buffed and a new coat of paint has brightened up the carousel’s interior. Light bulbs were replaced and a new safety gate gives visitors a closer and better view of the galloping animals.

Michael Gianaris, actor

From Capital Tonight:

Here’s the video that served as Sen. Mike Gianaris’ response at last night’s LCA show, in which he and his fellow reform-minded Democrats poked fun at their quixotic quest for an independent redistricting process.

The seven-minute spoof opens with Gianaris, who has been pushing for an overhaul of the state’s political line-drawing system since he was in the Assembly, brainstorming with Sens. Kevin Parker and Liz Krueger about how to make Gov. Andrew Cuomo stick to his pledge to veto the Senate GOP’s gerrymandered plan.

At his colleagues’ urging, Gianaris places a personal call to the governor’s office, only to be hung up on by a secretary.

He plays through, however, pretending for his fellow senators’ sake to to give the governor a piece of his mind while in reality, the dial tone is echoing loudly in his ear.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bloomberg to follow rules for once

From the NY Times:

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is rich, and New Yorkers often forgive him for it. His rarefied life of weekend homes in Bermuda and private jet flights to Paris has not stopped him from earning the votes of constituents who give him credit for competence and leadership.

But being a billionaire is one thing, and breaking the rules another. So it was on Wednesday that Mr. Bloomberg, an experienced pilot, found himself under fire after he was discovered flying his private helicopter where he was not supposed to.

An amateur video, filmed by an annoyed Manhattanite and broadcast Tuesday on WABC-TV, showed the mayor landing and taking off several times over the weekend from the East 34th Street helipad, where trips on Saturday and Sunday have been expressly banned for more than a decade.

On Wednesday, a City Hall spokesman said Mr. Bloomberg would not be flying from the helipad on weekends any longer.

Murder-suicide-fire in illegal Bayside apartment

From DNA Info:

A fire that broke out in the basement apartment of a Queens home led investigators to a possible crime scene.

A woman, 33, whose body was covered in marks, was transported to Flushing Hospital according to the FDNY. Initially, she was recovered from a traumatic arrest by rescuers, but was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital, fire officials said.

Rescuers also discovered a man, 50, in the process of attempting to hang himself in a closet, said Brown. The fire turned out to be a small one, the FDNY said.

The man was in transported to New York Hospital Queens in cardiac arrest Wednesday night, and was last listed in serious condition, fire officials said.

Rescuers recieved a call at 7:24 p.m. to the two-story home on 214th Place near 40th Avenue for a fire that started in the basement of the home, the FDNY said.

The woman had been found inside the basement unit on a bed, Brown said.

Investigators believed that gas in the kitchen of the basement apartment may have set off the fire, which prompted a neighbor to call 911, Brown said.

Clampdown on curbside scrap metal thieves

From the NY Post:

The city Department of Sanitation’s police force has beefed up neighborhood patrols to combat the theft of valuable recyclable scrap metal carted to the curb.

“It’s a continuing problem, one that the department is very aggressively trying to combat,” said Vito Turso, a spokesman for the Sanitation Department, noting that old ovens, refrigerators and air-conditioning units command high prices at scrap yards these days.

Last year, a whopping 46 percent of the appliances put out for recycling were not at the location at the time of pickup — apparently taken by roving scrap-metal thieves.

That’s a jump from 36 percent the previous year. So far, for 2012, the rate is at 43 percent, or roughly 11,000 missed pickups.

The city has a contract with Sims Metal Management to recycle the scrap — and the city gets a cut of Sims’ action in return.

Sims has estimated it loses up to $4 million a year from the thievery, meaning city coffers are getting hit hard, too.

Unconstitutional internet bill proposed

From the Huffington Post:

Republicans in the state government in Albany, N.Y., are attempting to pass a law that would ban anonymous comments on the Internet (to articles such as this one, or even to websites such as the one you're reading this on now). That clever login name you came up with? Sorry, you'll have to use your real name instead.

Luckily for all of us, this is never going to happen. Even if New York Republicans had their way, and actually passed their so-called Internet Protection Act, once it arrived in a federal court it would be tossed out in a "New York minute" (as they say).

This isn't just overconfidence in the judicial branch or civil libertarian smugness, either (although the "New York minute" bit is admittedly rather snarky). Legal precedent from only a few years ago already exists, which not only puts the First Amendment stamp of approval on online anonymity, it actually says that any attempt to uncover the identity of the commenter would be unconstitutional. And the case hinged not on political comments on a website but actual email spam. Political spam is protected free speech -- so how can website comments not be?

Speaking out on politics in whatever technological medium exists -- and remaining anonymous while doing so -- is not just one of the foundational rights our government was built on, it was actually largely responsible for our nation and our government even existing.

That is not going to be taken away by any misguided modern group of politicians in Albany, New York. Whether they've read and understood the Constitution or not will not matter, even if this pathetic excuse of a law is actually passed. Because it won't last that "New York minute" in federal court, before it is tossed on the historical ash-heap of past attempts at such censorship -- and, indeed, laughed right out of the courtroom.

This actually sounds like part of Gov. Cuomo's "war on cyberbullying."

Cleaning up illegal signs

From Bayside Patch:

With election season in full swing, Council Member Mark Weprin D-Oakland Gardens, is tackling one of the more cosmetic blights of dirty campaining: illegal signs.

Wepin wants to triple the current fines for posting signs illegally on public property. His office says they can be distracting to drivers and strain City resources to remove.

“The number of illegal signs is multiplying, and we must increase both fines and enforcement to discourage this pattern from continuing,” said Weprin.

It is currently illegal to post stickers, advertisements or fliers on telephone poles, lamposts or other public property.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Catching illegal dumpers red-handed

From CBS 2:

Illegal dumpers are tarnishing the Big Apple in a big way, but now the city is fighting back with a trash sting, CBS 2′s Maurice DuBois reported.

Illegal dumpers pull up in the middle of the night, maybe even on your block, bearing bags of trash — old furniture, tires and used appliances. New Yorkers are fed up with it.

But there’s a very good chance they will get caught – by the Sanitation Department’s police force.

CBS 2 went undercover with Officers Chad Jacobson and Kevin Torres who stake out, follow and apprehend violators. Violators like one man who was seen dumping a potentially dangerous propane tank on a Brooklyn sidewalk.

Sampson gone as Senate minority leader

From the Daily News:

Senate Minority Leader John Sampson should enjoy the rest of the year — because his tenure as the chamber’s top Democrat is likely to end at the start of 2013.

Senate Democratic insiders say there is virtually no chance Sampson will return as leader should the Dems capture the majority in the fall elections. And there is little likelihood he will be retained as Dem boss if the effort falls short.

“The writing is on the wall,” one said.

Sampson (D-Brooklyn) is personally well-regarded by Democrats and many Senate GOPers.

But this isn’t personal — it’s politics.

His leadership has come under fire after a string of head-scratching decisions that left many Dems angry and embarrassed.

In December, he selected controversial lawyer Ravi Batra as the Senate minority's sole representative on the state ethics commission despite outcry from his rank-and-file.

The last straw likely came when Sampson recently decided to give his top aide a $50,000-a-year raise. A number of his members exploded after learning about it in the Daily News — and the pay hike was quickly rescinded.

“These bad decisions on top of other ones he made basically made it clear that John can’t be the leader,” one high-ranking Dem said bluntly.

Meanwhile, a breakaway group of four Democrats who formed their own independent caucus have indicated they will not return if Sampson remains. (The four will be needed to return to the fold if the Dems have any chance of retaking the majority.)

Who would succeed Sampson in the fractured caucus isn’t clear.

Only rich or poor will be left in NYC

From the NY Times:

The wealthiest 1 percent of New York City residents took in nearly one-third of the personal income in the city in 2009 — almost double the comparable proportion nationwide, a new study shows.

In a report scheduled to be released on Monday, the city comptroller’s office found that large percentages of New Yorkers earned high incomes and low incomes, leaving a smaller middle class than in the nation as a whole.

The report analyzed tax filings by city residents for income earned from 2000 through 2009, the most recent data available, and compared them with the national numbers. All of the numbers were adjusted for inflation.

The most striking difference between New York and the rest of the United States, the report showed, was the concentration of earning power at the high end.

In 2009, nearly 15,000 filers reported adjusted gross income of $1 million or more. They accounted for less than half of 1 percent of the total number of filers, but they took in 26.7 percent of the income in the city. Nationally, people who earned at least $1 million in 2009 collected less than 10 percent of all the income.

The comptroller’s report also revealed that New York had a smaller bulge in its middle than the rest of the country. Nationally, about 31 percent of filers earned $50,000 to $200,000, and they took in 52 percent of all the personal income in the country. In New York, just 28 percent of filers fell into that income bracket, and they collected only 36 percent of all the personal income in the city.

East side access project now more than $8B

From the CBS New York:

The project to link the Long Island Rail Road to the East Side of Manhattan now has a price tag of more than $8 billion.

The final cost is more than 30 percent above the original estimate.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials also reiterated Monday that the new completion date for the project is August 2019. The East Side Access project was supposed to wrap up by 2016.

MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota had revealed the delay earlier this month at a meeting of business leaders on Long Island.

He said there have been problems tunneling underneath a rail yard in Queens. The MTA has brought in experts from Europe to help with developing a plan going forward.

Cemeteries fined for flower vases

From Eyewitness News:

There is outrage over a little known New York City ordinance that some families claim is not allowing them to properly mourn their loved ones buried at cemetery in Queens.

The ordinance forbids cemetery visitors to place flowers in water. It's all part of a citywide effort to prevent West Nile Virus, but many people say it's ridiculous. "This is a place that's supposed to be after life peaceful not people giving out tickets," says Andy Pilizota. Daniel Austin runs the cemetery, and he says two days before Mother's Day, their busiest week, an inspector from the Health Department walked the grounds. He had no idea, until Monday, he got a notice in the mail, saying the inspector found, "conditions conducive to the breeding of mosquitoes. Water in vases and flower pots throughout the property, some that contained larvae." It's a violations, something officials take very seriously in order to prevent cases of West Nile Virus. Daniel was fined $1,200. "I've done everything physically to curtail water or standing water with the grounds of this 225 acre sprawling cemetery," he says. That's the irony, there is a zero tolerance for standing water there. Signs clearly warn visitors not to bring it in from mid-April to the end of October. Staff looks for empties containers, even going as far as completely closing down facets but with only 15 full time workers and roughly 250,000 grave sites, Daniel says it's impossible to be everywhere at every time. He feels the health department is unfairly targeting him and other cemeteries.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Vicky's on top of Dr. Mittman

Hello Crapper:

I drove by the offices of the Queens Courier on Friday. Look what's on the front of their building's facade. That's Vicky's window with the arrow pointing to it.

Regards, GtheA

DEP pretends to respond to 311 complaint

SERVICE REQUEST #: 185405517
CREATED ON: 04/22/2012 9:47:00 PM
DETAIL: Street Flooding (SJ)
STATUS: The Department of Environment Protection inspected your complaint but could not find the problem you reported. If the condition persists, please call 311 (or 212-639-9675 if calling from a non-New York City area code) with more detailed information to submit a new complaint.
LAST UPDATED ON: 04/23/2012 9:55:00 AM

Does anyone believe that DEP responded in 12 hours and failed to notice this vast street pond? It's been there for months! Do they not care about West Nile Virus? - anonymous

With liberty and free porn for all!

Here are some choice highlights of a NY1 interview Liz Crowley recently gave.

"We're out there everyday, mornings at train stops, afternoons at senior centers in the evening we're knocking on doors."

So she's out there spending all of her time running for congress (and apparently flying to Israel to study unemployment)? How much time is she spending at her city council job?

Around 5:08, she claims, "We want to be like the next Silicone Valley."

"Silicone Valley" is the nickname given to the San Fernando Valley in California, where the vast majority of our country's hardcore porn is created. I think the genius meant to say Silicon Valley.

The screenshot is from the precious moment when she proudly claimed, "I've worked with my hands in the past."

Yes, we know.

Willets Point plan nothing like what was promised

From Crains:

Because Willets Point is far from being ready to attract home buyers, builders want to push back the housing component until 2025. They would start by cleaning up a 20-acre swath that needs extensive remediation—greater than the 12.75 acres called for in the request for proposals. Related and Sterling Equities would then build parking lots, a retail strip and a 200-room hotel just to the east of Citi Field along 126th Street.

After that, they would add a new component to the project—an approximately 1 million-square-foot retail and entertainment complex on the parking lots just west of Citi Field. This new piece became possible because the Mets control the lease. Tentatively called “Willets West,” the mall would connect Willets Point and Citi Field to Corona, expanding the scope of the redevelopment and creating thousands more jobs. It serves two main purposes: to make the rest of the project economically viable and to make the desolate area more of a destination before the housing comes in.

Once the mall west of Citi Field is built, the developers would start construction on the housing and additional retail space east of the stadium. The city negotiated a clause in the deal that would force the developers to pay $35 million if they don't break ground on the housing by 2025. The city could also replace the developers at that point.

The city's budget for the project hasn't changed—it still has about $400 million earmarked—but some of that money will be moved around to help the developers with remediation and infrastructure. Economic activity from the initial parts of Related/Sterling project will allow the city to put $65 million into its capital budget for 2020 to build Van Wyck Expressway ramps that are needed for the housing.

The changes virtually ensure that one of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's signature economic development initiatives will not get off the ground before he leaves office. Assuming approvals are granted, the new plan calls for remediation to begin in 2014.

What happened on 94th Ave last week?

"A question: A little after 10 PM last Wednesday there was an armed home invasion down the block from me on 94 Avenue (that's what the rumor is). There were loads of police cars (both marked and unmarked), ambulances and even a police helicopter. I've looked at all the local news websites, but cannot find any mention of this incident. Have you heard anything??" - anonymous

Monday, May 21, 2012

Crowley caught lying about school funding

From Queens Politics:

Elizabeth Crowley wants you to believe that she was the one that secured the resources to design, develop, and implement the new schools within her Council District.

As a matter of fact Crowley mailed a piece of campaign literature all across Queens to curry favor with those deeply concerned about Education in her bid to become your Congresswoman from the 6th District, however upon research and review and confirmation from her office spokesman, she’s taking credit for schools that were budgeted and started construction prior to her even being elected to the City Council.

“Elizabeth Crowley fought for the resources to open four new public schools to relieve overcrowding in her City Council District,” according to her campaign mail.

Her spokesman, Eric Yun, indicated that the “Metropolitan High School site was funded by Elizabeth”, but a check of District Education sources and community leaders indicate that the development of this site goes back to 2001, during the days of Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Those in the community clearly recall Forest City Ratner was going to place a 35 multiplex movie theater. The community and its elected officials were adamantly opposed and the site was eventually turned over to the Department of Education for an 8 acre educational complex.

Who really fought for the funding?

District 24 Community Education Council president Nick Comaianni said it wasn’t Liz.

According to Comaianni,

“It [the funding] came from CEC24 that lobbied the Chancellor to get as much money to deal with the overcrowding. These schools go back to the capital budget in 2005, we had 3,600 seats and we lobbied for an extra 3,000 seats and we got it with the help of Councilman Gallagher.”

(Btw: Crowley’s spokesperson did not even realize that the Metropolitan Campus is NOT within her Council District it is actually in the 29th District occupied by Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz. To be fair we should mention that the leader in that high school fight was Councilwoman Melinda Katz.)

The second school Elizabeth is falsely asserting she delivered is the new Maspeth High School which hasn’t even opened its doors. This project first appeared in the 2005 Capital Plan four years before Elizabeth was sworn into office. Oddly this school was the subject of great debate and many in the community opposed the construction. Elizabeth told the Daily News that she would “oppose this development if the school were not locally zoned.”

Yun contacted us after his initial quotes to retract his statement. Yun said he had “misspoke” and that Crowley fought to keep local zoning and construction, which did in fact occur before her election into office. He said two of the four schools mentioned in Crowley’s literature were schools in Richmond Hill. Richmond Hill is outside the 6th Congressional District.

Yun initially indicated two additional schools were elementary schools, but couldn’t name them. Checking the district, the only three schools to be developed were PS113 and PS128 and PS49. Does Elizabeth really believe this to be true? Does she believe that she fought for those resources? How do you fight for something that’s already in the budget? All of the aforementioned schools were under construction well prior to her election!