Friday, May 31, 2013

Here's what historic district status gets you...

When you want to construct a building in a historic district, the LPC has to approve the design to make sure it fits in. This guarantees that the area will remain a crap-free zone.

We all know what this one in Jackson Heights would have looked like had that review not taken place.

From Brownstoner Queens:
The site was formerly a one-story retail building that burned down, and the the Landmarks Preservation Commission reviewed the redevelopment plan in 2010, which resulted in changes to the windows and new setbacks from the street. The new project will have ground floor retail space, and one of the tenants is rumored to be Jackson Heights Health Store, which is currently in a smaller space.

Permits renewed for stalled Astoria site

Remember this and this?

Well the folks at Brownstoner Queens have discovered that permits are in the process of being renewed for the Steinway Street eyesore. So, the good news is that there won't be a stalled site at that corner for much longer. The bad news is that there will be lots more people moving into an already overcrowded, overburdened neighborhood. I'll take a corner apartment with a view of the sewage plant, please!

Sandy salt hurt a lot of trees

From CBS New York:

It took the start of spring for Carla Errico to notice something about one of the trees on her street.

“It’s leaning a little bit and my concern is that if it’s windy, it may fall over,” she told Silverman.

The big sycamore is bare, save for a little cluster of leaves. At the roots, a patch of grass is bulging and straining against the sidewalk.

“Gardener came and did tell me that the tree was dead, that when they drink the saltwater, they dehydrate, so they die,” she said.

But she said the Parks Department’s inspector “declared that the tree was not dead and was not dying and they would not remove it.”

“Some came back after the flood. Some did not,” she said. ”And it does look horrible looking down the block and seeing these bare trees.”

Queens Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder said that his office has gotten at least a dozen calls about sickly trees like this one.

He told Silverman that federal money could be available to help with removal.

“If there’s a will, there’s a way,” he said.

The Parks Department said it will be watching trees throughout the summer to see if any show new signs of life.

They also released the following information:

More than 20,000 trees were lost throughout New York City due to Hurricane Sandy. We will gain a fuller picture of the tree and plant mortality caused by Hurricane Sandy in late summer or early fall, when we can observe their behavior throughout the growing season. In the interim, we have been and will continue to remediate soil, as necessary, with compost and gypsum – both mitigate salt damage – to encourage the return of healthy biological functioning.

We also encourage residents to water their street trees, which helps to flush out excess salt. For more information on tree watering and to learn how you can become a tree steward, visit or contact MillionTreesNYC directly at (212) 360-TREE.

Queens pols want expanded gambling

From AM-NY:

Queens lawmakers and business groups are betting that casino table games at the borough's racino will bring riches to the local economy.

As Gov. Andrew Cuomo pushes his proposal for new non-Indian casinos to attract jobs and visitors to upstate New York, southern Queens elected officials Tuesday said their borough should get a piece of the action. They joined with the Queens Chamber of Commerce and the borough's Economic Development Corp. to push for approval of table games like poker and blackjack at the Resorts World racino at the Aqueduct Racetrack.

"We shouldn't be pitting one neighborhood against another, one county against another," said Assemb. Phillip Goldfeder. "Enhanced casinos will really help our state. But more importantly for Queens, it'd be a large part of Sandy recovery if we can bring more economic development and jobs to the neighborhood."

Cuomo's casino gambling plan would allow for three facilities to open in upstate New York. The proposal must get approval from the Legislature and voters in a referendum to change the state constitution.

Vallone vs... Vallone?

Paul Vallone (19th Council District) is running with Melinda Katz (BP) and Christine Quinn (Mayor) because of the Queens County endorsement. The Vallones hate Quinn, and Peter Vallone is running against Melinda Katz for BP, yet because of the endorsement, Paul's folks will be carrying their petitions.

Peter Vallone (BP) is running with John Liu (Mayor). Meanwhile, Chrissy Voskerichian (19th Council District) is playing up her connections with John Liu. Will she be on a slate with Peter Vallone and John Liu in opposition to Paul Vallone's slate?

Will the Vallones end up cannibalizing each other? Strange bedfellows, these politics make!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Some progress made in Jamaica - but not enough

From NY1:

A lot that was a popular dumping ground up until two months ago in the Jamaica section of Queens is now much cleaner. When NY1 first reported on the area in March, garbage was piling up in vacant lots and on the streets near 107th Avenue and Sutphin Boulevard.

The garbage problem still exists, but the Department of Sanitation has made significant improvements in the area. Sanitation department officials said they have cleared 37 lots and and a number of people have received tickets for failing to maintain their property. One homeowner was fined for having garbage all over the yard.

Sanitation officers are also trying to catch people dumping illegally, but they have to be in the right place at the right time. NY1's Ruschell Boone saw men unloading garbage from a white van under a train trestle, but then they picked up the bags after spotting the NY1 news camera.

Some have praised the agency's efforts since NY1's last report, but some South Jamaica residents protested at Borough Hall after Borough President Helen Marshall refused to meet with them about the issue.

A spokesperson said Marshall has met with sanitation officials and is comfortable with the agency's plan to try to fix the problem. The protesters, however, are not satisfied.

Gennaro-Quinn lovefest

From The Politicker:

Although Council Speaker Christine Quinn has largely avoided tearing into her electoral opponents as she campaigns for mayor this year, the same can’t be said for everyone in her legislative chamber. Councilman James Gennaro, notably, has repeatedly and aggressively attacked her rivals on a wide range of issues, earning a reputation as a reliable “attack dog” for her campaign.

The list of examples is long. Mr. Gennaro accused Public Advocate Bill de Blasio of being on a “quest for relevance” during the paid sick day debate. He hit Mr. de Blasio again for his call to end horse-drawn carriages in Central Park. On the environmental front, Mr. Gennaro, the chair of the Council’s environmental protection committee, called Mr. de Blasio and another Gracie Mansion hopeful, Comptroller John Liu, “panderers” for opposing the construction of a waste transfer station on the Upper East Side. “I applaud Speaker Quinn for facing the critics,” he added.

A term-limited member who has represented portions of central and eastern Queens since 2002, Mr. Gennaro is widely known as a close Quinn ally. Although she has already been endorsed by Council lawmakers like Domenic Recchia, Diana Reyna and Julissa Ferreras, no one has stepped forward as aggressively as Mr. Gennaro.

Why has Mr. Gennaro been so bold? One Queens Democratic source, who said he was familiar with Mr. Gennaro’s plans, said the councilman is interested in landing a plum job in a future-Mayor Quinn’s administration.

“Jim is term-limited and because of that, he’s saying, ‘What the hell am I’m doing next year?’ And I think if Jim was offered a job in new administration of Christine Quinn, he would love that,” the Queens Democrat said. “He has a great environmental background, he could maybe be [Department of Environmental Protection] commissioner or a deputy commissioner candidate. I think he’s becoming a little bit of an attack dog for Chris and he figures he has nothing to lose, everything to gain.”

Chrissy Voskerichian's contributions breakdown

Total $11,060 as of 5/11/13

Contribution Category                         #                        Amount

Total                                                  163                      $11,060

Family/Close Associates                         7                        $1,300

Former Halloran Employees                     11                         $410

Real Estate / Developers / Construction   9                          $850

Zuccarello / Zerillo family                       10                      $1,725

38.7% of contributions come from these 4 categories $4,285
22.7% of individuals come from these 4 categories 37

Other important info:

119 of 163 contributors, or 73%, are from the 19th Council District.
$8,160 of $11,060, or 73.8%, is from the 19th Council District.

Public-private partnerships hurt the general public

From the NY Times:

The Central Park Conservancy manages $220 million in assets, and has four officials who make more money than the city parks commissioner, Veronica M. White. At a High Line fund-raiser, a host held aloft a million-dollar check and asked for a match. Another $1 million check was written on the spot.

At the other end of this spectrum, the cracked path around the Shore Park-Verrazano Narrows offers an exercise in horizontal mountain biking. At Flushing Meadows-Corona Park children play in dry wading pools and lake paths are unnavigable without machetes.

Prospect Park occupies a middle ground. It has overseen a stunningly beautiful reconstruction of its lake side. It also rents out its Audubon Center on weekends to the wedding-bar mitzvah-birthday crowd.

Our lame duck mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg, has started to turn off his charitable money shower. His foundation informed the Prospect Park Alliance that it intended to end its quarter-million dollar annual contribution. (Ms. Lloyd declined to discuss this.)

Those who defend privatization are candid. Ask about inequity and they talk of commodities; the emerald brilliance of Central Park draws tourists. The High Line is a brooch in the luxury transformation of Chelsea.

As for Flushing Meadows? When told that partisans hoped to transform a homely asphalt-ringed fountain into a grass-edged lake, John Alschuler Jr., co-chairman of the Friends of the High Line, offered an exasperated sigh. In his day job, he lobbies to place a U.F.O.-size professional soccer stadium in the midst of that Queens park.

Cities, he said, no longer pay for parks properly. Such exuberant hopes will not be realized in my life, he said, or that of my child. Find a corporate sponsor, he suggested.

So condescension passes as realism.

Holly Leicht of New Yorkers for Parks is a vigorous parks advocate, and would demand transparency and accountability from conservancies. But she would not upset the conservancy lords until the Parks Department is properly financed and revamped.

This feels backward. Former Police Commissioner Bill Bratton transformed a hidebound Police Department in months; why demand less of the Parks Department?

Did Rapid Repairs cause house to blow up?

From Eyewitness News:

Word of the explosion and fire first came into Eyewitness News shortly before 2:00 p.m.

NewsCopter 7 showed heavy fire and smoke rising from the scene at 84th Street between 162nd and 163rd Avenue.

Authorities sounded a second alarm around 2:20. Firefighters were being kept back from the building to fight the intense flames in case of another explosion.

A woman was inside the home at the time of the explosion. Neighbors managed to help her get out. She suffered severe burns, authorities said. She was taken to Jamaica Hospital in critical condition. Neighbors tell Eyewitness News that her husband is devastated.

Eyewitness News has learned that Rapid Repair work was done at this house to fix damage from Hurricane Sandy. Work on the gas service was supposed to be conducted within the past week.

City backpedals on Willets Point violations

From the Times Ledger:

After one branch of city government issued several Willets Point business owners violations and shut down their body shops earlier this month, another branch will now pay to fix them.

On May 17, inspectors from the city Department of Buildings closed two lots housing several auto businesses in the Iron Triangle.

At one property, on the corner of 38th Avenue and 126th Street, inspectors determined a building had been illegally subdivided into five shops. They shuttered the whole group. Across the street, inspectors enforced an order to vacate issued in 2009 regarding support joists holding up the sheet metal roof.

The lots were both purchased by the city Housing and Preservation Department in 2009, records show, making the Bloomberg administration the landlord.

Immediately after the businesses were shut down, Housing told TimesLedger Newspapers that because the violations were issued to a commercial business, it would be the tenant’s responsibility to rectify the problems.

But after a group of business owners reached out to City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst), the department did an about-face and agreed to bring the shops into compliance.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

NYC in the 1930s - in color!

What's going on here?

Hi folks,

Someone gave me a heads up re: the NYS Assembly/Senate bill above. It is very disturbing.

Currently, the boardwalks on NYC's beaches are under the jurisdiction of the Parks Dept. Parks also maintains the public beaches by removing trash, staffing with lifeguards (though NYS law dictates how many lifeguards, how far apart lifeguard stations should be, etc). Parks can also allow temporary structures (i.e. removable handicapped access mats) volleyball courts, etc. on the beach. But the beach itself - the sand - is also under the jurisdiction of NYS DEC which ensures compliance with the Coastal Zone Management Act, among other things. Also, under Public Trust Doctrine, the shoreline and intertidal area is held, in trust, for the people, by the state. So in essence, there is a very nice checks & balances system that has been in place for years and that has worked very well. Brighton/Coney/the Rockaways/Orchard Beach/Midland Beach/Manhattan Beach, etc. are all governed by IDENTICAL guidelines.

All of a sudden, very, very, VERY quietly, the above piece of legislation has been proposed, by Assemblymembers Cymbrowitz & Brook-Krasny. It would take the beaches of Brighton & Coney Island - and ONLY those beaches, and give jurisdiction to the NYC Parks Dept, for 250 feet south of the Boardwalk. Basically, ALL OF THE BEACH, would now be turned over to the NYC Parks Dept. the most woefully underfunded city agency.

Interestingly, Manhattan Beach, which is within spitting distance of Brighton Beach, is also in Assemblyman Cymbrowitz's district. Yet he has NOT proposed a similar set up for Manhattan Beach. Why not?

This smacks of a special interest deal that will ultimately impact the lives of hundreds of thousands of people who live in a flood zone. The implications are enormous. And the fact that there has not been a single word in the media or anywhere else about this, is even more upsetting. Things that are done behind closed doors are usually kept hidden for a reason.


Please call your NYS Assembly & Senate representatives and urge them to vote against these bills: A 07168 & S 04787.

Ida Sanoff

Avella helps Astoria as local pols stay silent


Thank you again for covering and publicizing our fight against Pali Realty, LLC and Yianni Konstantinidis.

Your advocacy and concern, and that of your readers, has meant a lot to my neighbors and I.

  • Council Member Peter Vallone did nothing to help us.
  • Assemblymember Simotas, though aware of our concerns, did nothing to help.
  • Senator Gianaris, also aware of our concerns, did nothing to help.

Senator Tony Avella who, ironically, represents Yianni Konstantinidis' district in Whitestone, was the only elected official in Queens who cared.

He visited our homes and wrote letters to the Board of Standards and Appeals, to the Department of Buildings and to the NYC Department of Investigation.

His efforts, and bills in the NY State Senate, will help to reform the Board of Standards and Appeals.

The process used by the Board of Standards and Appeals is an incredibly flawed one, and it allows developers and architects to manipulate public officials at every single turn. Gerald Caliendo, the project architect and co-chair of the Queens Community Board #1 Zoning and Variance committee, clearly knew about the exhaust vents at the rear of the building he was working on. He was present at the December 18, 2012 meeting.

And he decided to remain silent.

A trusted architect professional in the community consciously decided to stay silent, despite his professional obligation under the American Institute of Architects Code of Ethics not to cause harm to others.

Queens Community Board #1 was snookered and misled into believing that exhaust vents were merely "mechanical equipment". Then, after garnering Community Board approval, Pali Realty voided the original application and added details to the BSA copy to make it appear that nothing at all had been hidden.

In addition, the Department of Buildings approved the plans despite being well aware of the new Astoria Rezoning in May 2010. I rarely think New York City should be responsible for looking out for the well-being of its citizens, but in this case the city failed miserably and they, ultimately, should be held accountable for decimating the properties my neighbors have worked so hard to purchase.

Please find the BSA resolution, attached, which spells out the restrictions. It is the best we can hope for at this time.

My neighbors still have broken homes and a resolution does not appear to be on the horizon.

Despite my anger, frustration and hurt, thank you again for maintaining a website and blog that shines a bright light on this insanity.


Norm Sutaria

Weiner wants development in parks

From the Queens Courier:

Among major issues affecting Queens, Weiner also discussed developments including a possible new soccer stadium, Willets Point and the expansion of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

Weiner said his default position is the belief “we should be developing and that we should try to create jobs and that we should try to create economic activity places outside of Manhattan.”

He said he was previously conflicted about expanding the tennis center, even voting against the move when he was on the City Council. But Weiner said generally speaking, he is in favor of the three projects and wants to see them move forward. He added he wants to leave himself some wiggle room on details of the soccer stadium.

All it takes is one jerk...

Hi Craps,

This last Monday on Memorial Day at Francis Lewis Park dozens of families with their children were enjoying of a beautiful day.

While this was going on this fifty something year old guy was drinking Coronas (Beer) right in the playground where his children, my grandson and those of other people were playing around, not content with the boozing display he was also smoking right outside the very gate to the playground next to where he was seating like all the attendants couldn’t smell the disgusting second hand smog.

What a shameful example to give to his children (because if he wasn’t accompanying any children which by the way I didn’t see while I was there that would be another violation of park usage), teaching them to drink in a public place while having a smoke where it’s also considered inappropriate.

He was not only disrupting the enjoyment of that part of the day for many attendants to the playground but he also was breaking several laws. As usual there wasn’t any police or park employee presence in the park (or any other park in North Queens) to have him rightly fined for his imbecilic behavior.

Way to go boozer, what’s next? Drugs and public sex in the park where children play?

- Anonymous

Monday, May 27, 2013

Not quite ready for Memorial Day weekend

The following are pictures of Francis Lewis park aka Whitestone park. This weekend being the unofficial start of summer, highlights how sad the maintenance of this park has been.

The leaves have been here since the fall, thru the Winter, and still here today.

The paths are littered with dirt, mud and broken twigs.

When is the parks department going to clean this mess up?

Who knows! They can't blame the MTABT for the conditions of the playground anymore. Lets see what excuses they come up with next.

Alfredo Centola
Malba Gardens Civic Association

Bad behavior by pols at the College Point Memorial Day parade

Dear Crappy -

As a cameraperson for one of the candidates running for office who was marching in the College Point Memorial Day parade, you may take what I'm writing with a grain of salt (as I could be working for a competitor/s), that's up to you.

Frankly, I was outraged and horrified by the behavior of Peter Vallone's workers. First, they marched with the candidates, which is really not supposed to happen. Second, they unfurled signs and a banner promoting Peter Vallone's candidacy for Borough President, which is a serious no-no. They were told to stop by Andy Rocco, the president of the College Point Taxpayers Civic Association, which they did - reluctantly. However, they then followed this with screaming at the top of their lungs: "HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY FROM COUNCILMAN PETER VALLONE!" over and over again for the rest of the parade (about 20 minutes), which you can see an excerpt on the video that I sent you.

First of all, Memorial Day is not meant to be a "happy" event. Here's the Wikipedia definition:

Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday which occurs every year on the final Monday of May.[1] Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Formerly known as Decoration Day, it originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War. By the 20th century, Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died while in the military service.

There WERE veterans as well as current and former military present, both on the parade route and in formation. There were also police, firemen...and the Guardian Angels, which, last I heard, was not any kind of law enforcement group whatsoever. Instead, the Angels are being used to bolster Melinda Katz's respectability level (I guess?), as she doesn't have to march with the rest of the candidates with Curtis and Company as her entourage.

Just thought you'd like to know some of the nonsense that's passing for honoring our heroes in the military.

- Anonymous Campaign Worker

A Memorial Day garbage walk

A Memorial Day walk to Blink Gym, but not really different from any other walk in Jamaica. My question, would this be acceptable anywhere else?

As soon as I walk out of my apartment building on 170th St, I encounter this:

In front of empty lot at 169-23 90th Ave
In front of empty lot at 169-23 90th Ave

and this:

In front of empty lot at 169-23 90th Ave
In front of empty lot at 169-23 90th Ave

I turn onto 90th Ave, the other side of the empty lot to see this:

Empty Lot at 169-23 90th AveEmpty Lot at 169-23 90th Ave

A few feet and I encounter the next empty lot on 90th Ave and this:

The front of another empty lot on 90th AveThe front of another empty lot on 90th Ave

I have not even gotten two blocks yet, but as I move into the next block (this is near where the $50 million retail project is going up and  across the street from the Marshall’s Department Store and the Police Station), I see this:

Side of house at 89-27 168th Place. The smell is awful either a bunch of dog shit in there, a baby diaper or someone took a shit in there.Side of house at 89-27 168th Place. The smell is awful, either a bunch of dog shit in there, a baby diaper or someone took a shit in there.

You can actually see a small piece of dog shit to the left.

Right around the corner, this major eyesore that has just gotten some garbage dumped there.

Abandoned Home atAbandoned Home at 89-64 168th Place

I have only walked three blocks so far, pretty damn amazing. This all near the $50 million retail project.

Now I am walking back from the gym and I walk along 164th Street where the stores of the Colosseum Mall are and I see this, which was a mess on Saturday, but slobs added more garbage today.

The stores along 164th Street. This was a mess on Saturday and now more garbage has been tossed into the mix.The stores along 164th Street. This was a mess on Saturday and now more garbage has been tossed into the mix.

And this:
Stores along 164th Street between Jamaica Ave and 89th Ave.Stores along 164th Street between Jamaica Ave and 89th Ave.

And this:
Stores along 164th Street between Jamaica Ave and 89th Ave.Stores along 164th Street between Jamaica Ave and 89th Ave.

A turn on 89th Avenue reveals this “Jamaica Revealed”:
164-11 89th Ave. This spot is a great pissing place for the local natives.164-11 89th Ave. This spot is a great pissing place for the local natives.

And nothing says GHETTO like this:

In front of Fish Market on 89th Ave.

So this was just a few blocks from my apartment, TOTALLY DISGUSTING AND TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE (unless you live in Pakistan or India). Councilman Ruben Wills, who I am not a fan of, was right in the NY1 four-part garbage series when he said “It’s the community”. Claudia Filomena, Queens Director for the Mayors Community Affair Unit was wrong when she stated in a Queens Chronicle article in regards to the Jamaica trash/litter problem: ““There are areas in Manhattan that have trash and graffiti as well,” Felomina said at the meeting.”

No, Ms. Filomina, there are no areas in Manhattan that look anything like what is going on in Jamaica. I probably have traveled all over the 5 boroughs more than you or most people and have NEVER encountered anything quite like what I see in Jamaica. This past Sunday, I walked all over the West Village, the East Village, Lower East Side, Union Square area and saw nothing that resembled the few blocks that are pictured here, so please do not give me that bullshit statement.

The Jamaica community is a result of too many low-class ghetto people who think nothing of throwing trash everywhere, new low-class third world immigrants who have no respect for their new community and think throwing garbage is normal, absentee landlords of run-down third world looking apartment buildings, owners of vacant properties that are not taken care of, litter laws that are not enforced by Department of Sanitation, a slew of section 8 housing where some of the people have no respect for their community or themselves, corrupt local officials, do very little local officials, community boards that are just an extension of the local officials, community and business leaders with blinders on whose catch phrase is “vibrant and diverse”, a mayor who has pretty much abandoned anything outside of Manhattan and so-called upstanding community residents who say nothing, do nothing, ignore the situation and do not hold their elected leaders accountable. All of this is a recipe for disaster, a dying Jamaica community.

If anyone can tell me if any of this is acceptable, say something now. If anyone thinks that my last paragraph is incorrect, say something now.


Joe Moretti
Jamaica, NY

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Classic case of "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours"

From the Daily News:

For elected officials, it’s part of the job: assisting constituents with problems.

When some people sought the help of Brooklyn state Sen. John Sampson, he allegedly demanded that they hire him as their lawyer.

The FBI is investigating whether the Sampson broke the law by seeking and receiving retainer fees from at least two businessmen who sought his assistance in dealing with the government, the Daily News has learned.

In both cases, the FBI taped the businessmen discussing their involvement with Sampson, sources say.

Sources familiar with the investigation say a focus of their inquiry is the “retainer fees” Sampson has demanded for the kind of work that other elected officials typically perform as part of their jobs.

Sampson was once one of Albany’s most powerful politicians, rising to the top of the Senate’s leadership in 2009 after Democrats became a majority in the chamber. He lost power two years later when Democrats lost their control of the Senate.

And like dozens of other state legislators, Sampson works on the side as an attorney. His Senate biography notes he represents clients in “real estate, criminal and election matters.”

Neither Sampson nor his lawyer, Zachary Carter, responded to written questions about the retainer fees.

One of those questioned by the FBI, sources say, is Brooklyn auto dealer Lilaahar (Sammy) Bical, owner of Kristal Auto Mall, one of the biggest Cadillac dealers on the East Coast.

Last year the FBI confronted Bical about Sampson’s role in helping him eliminate hurdles blocking Bical’s plan to buy a city-owned plot on Flatbush Ave. near the Belt Parkway.

Bical wanted the land to expand his dealership. But he faced opposition from some local politicians, including then-Sen. Carl Kruger (D-Brooklyn), who was trying to help developer Bruce Ratner build a shopping mall on the same property (Kruger was later indicted in an unrelated case and is now in prison).

Seeking help, Bical turned to Sampson. The senator requested a $10,000 “retainer fee” up front, and Bical wrote the check, sources say. Soon after, Sampson arranged a sit-down with Bloomberg administration officials at City Hall.

Kristal Auto Mall on Kings Highway is owned by Sammy Bical, who allegedly paid Sen. John Sampson $10,000 for a an eventual sit-down meeting with the Bloomberg administration that led him to buy $4.2 million for a plot of land to expand the dealership.

A spokesman for the city Economic Development Corp., which oversaw the land sale, confirmed that Sampson “provided legal counsel to Mr. Bical at a certain point and did meet with EDC a few times.”

A city official, speaking on condition of anonymity, described the meetings as “an awkward situation because he’s not just a lawyer — he’s also a senator.”

And lawyering while politicking is currently legal.

The latest numbers from the Shafran campaign

Austin Shafran's campaign contribution breakdown

Total $58,802 as of 3/11/13
$87,217 as of 5/11/13

Disclosure Period 8                                    $28,415      3/12 to 5/11

Total Number of Contributions $28,415
Total Number of Contributors 169

Shafran Family/Friends                                         5                  $3,385

Political/Lobbyists                                               13                    $635

Real Estate / Developers / Construction               10                 $2,150

Lawyers                                                             28                  $4,640

Unions                                                                 6                   $4,150

Parker Jewish Institute                                         2                      $350

Union Plaza Nursing Home                                   1                  $1,000

57.4% of contributions come from these categories $16,310
38.5% of contributors come from these categories 65

Other important info:

Amount Bundled/Connected to Bundlers:             22                    $4,125

Christopher Renfroe                                            15                    $2,200

Ryan Walsh (ran unsuccessfully for 2001 City Council                  $1,925
race in the 20th District as a Republican)

36 of 169 contributors, or 21.3%, are from the 19th Council District.
$5,275* of $28,415 or 18.6%, is from the 19th Council District.

*However, $3,175 of that total is from himself; his mother; father; and aunt. Discounting those contributions, it's $2,100 or 7.4%.

Has Jose Peralta's stadium stance changed?

What is MLS stadium supporter Jose Peralta trying to say by posting this on his Senate page?

Garbage in Jamaica symbolic of bigger problems

Another Saturday morning walk to Blink Gym revealed the true “Jamaica Revealed”. Of course “Jamaica Revealed” refers to the event held several weeks ago about bringing potential businesses to the downtown area, which I am all for, but how about cleaning up the damn house first folks. This garbage problem in Jamaica is atrocious. How atrocious? Well my walk back from Blink Gym revealed a major eyesore along the Colosseum Mall Stores on 165th between Jamaica Ave and 89th St. (and this was not early in the morning either). One particular eyesore, which looks like it has been in the making for a while, is pretty amazing considering this is right in the downtown area and part of the 164th Street Mall Association. Someone is not doing their job.

This is right near 89-41 165th Street. I have seen this for awhile and wondered how long before anyone said anything. Well I am still waiting.This is right near 89-41 165th Street. I have seen this for a while and wondered how long before anyone said anything. Well I am still waiting.

And the beat goes on.....And the beat goes on…..

......and on and on.……and on and on.

Empty lot next to Homecare Supplies at 168-30 89th Ave. How much garbage and rodents are hidden in these high weeds?Empty lot next to Homecare Supplies at 168-30 89th Ave. How much garbage and rodents are hidden in these high weeds?

In front of house at 89-16 172nd St.In front of house at 89-16 172nd St.

Problematic lot at 170-19 89th Ave.Problematic lot at 170-19 89th Ave.

And all of this is supposed to draw quality businesses in our area? All it draws in are low-class ghetto trash and low-class third world immigrant trash and the crap that goes along with it.

How bad is our Jamaica garbage problem, well at 112th Precinct Community Council meeting last Thursday, which  covers Forest Hills/Kew Gardens, City Council candidate Jon Torodash, who I know, had this exchange with Claudia Filomena, the Queens director for the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit, which the Queens Chronicle covered (

City Council candidate Jon Torodash brought up his own concerns.

“Jamaica has a tremendous trash problem and it has since been growing along Queens Boulevard and there have been individuals who have been documenting it,” he said. “It’s happened on DOT properties, residential properties, and no one is coming out there and no fines have been issued.”

Filomena explained that in certain situations, such as a vacant lot, the Department of Sanitation can clean up the property.

“But in Queens you have a lot of buildings that have just been abandoned and we try to do as much as we can,” she said. “Because you have a lot of absentee landowners and property owners in the area, it makes it difficult. We can bill them, but at the end of the day, they can choose to ignore the fines. Unfortunately it’s kind of just a Band-Aid. We can also reach out to the banks that own those properties but many of them are out of state and don’t always come up with the best solutions either.”

“It is obvious that Manhattan and certain areas of Brooklyn and Queens are better maintained than others, and it’s simply not right,” Torodash wrote in an email after the meeting. “Although Jamaica is not technically ‘in my district,’ it is a hop, skip and a jump from the subways and buses. The slow incursion of graffiti and trash buildup into any area is a troubling indicator of neighborhood decline, correlating with increased crime and lowered property value. We don’t want the problem to creep in: It should be aggressively pursued."

"It’s downright nasty the way some of these streets look,” Gretta Harison said. “Some people probably say they’re used to it, but that’s not a good thing. We shouldn’t be used to trash all over the place and last time I checked, Queens was part of the city that Bloomberg represents. It seems like he forgets that sometimes.”

“There are areas in Manhattan that have trash and graffiti as well,” Felomina said at the meeting. “We want to help property owners and residents keep their neighborhoods clean and I know that in the Jamaica area there are a lot of issues with trash but there is only so much that we can legally do. We encourage anyone who sees trash or graffiti to call it in.”

Torodash was not satisfied.

“It amazes me how Queens Borough Hall can be strewn with trash, a broken handrail, peeling paint on its flagpole and unwashed graffiti for months (on the tarp over Civic Virtue’s former site) but still the city could muster $100,000 to pay for yanking the Civic Virtue statue away from City Hall and come up with $20 million for a glass atrium where healthy cherry trees once stood,” Torodash wrote. “It’s really not that complicated: Inspectors must seriously ramp up their issuing of citations and pass enforcement up the chain of command quickly to deal with the repeat and serious offenders who flout the law.”

Jon took the words right  out of my mouth.

Pretty fucking bad, when someone running for city council, not in our community and does not live in our community, is more concerned than our own elected officials who are pretty much non-existent on this issue. Where the fuck are your concerns Cook, Wills, Meeks, Scarborough, even you Mr. Comrie?

D'aja Robinson who life was taken by some punkass with a gun.And sure just as I predicted earlier, we heard from Wills, Meeks and even disgraced Malcolm Smith in regards to violence and guns in conjunction with the horrific killing of 14-year-old D’aja Robinson by some punk ass gang member, who needs to have a bounty on his head “DEAD OR NOT ALIVE”. They were saying the usual empty bullshit that politicians like to say during these times (“This is a tragedy”, “We have to get the guns out of our community”). But words mean nothing, action means everything and none of you have really done anything on this issue. Why wait for a change in Washington, take care of matters in your own back yard and stop these young punks from running wild in our garbage strewn community. It is not like this is the first time,  this has been going on for years and as usual, to take the words of Stevie Wonder, “You haven’t done nothing”. Hell you clowns cannot even take care of the garbage problem. You are just media whores, looking for an opportunity to put yourself in the spotlight. Nothing but hollow bullshit.

You just don’t get the correlation between garbage run-down communities and crime. They go hand in hand FOOLS!

Joe Moretti

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Parks Dept working on Doughboy paintjob

George The Atheist passed along these updated photos of Doughboy Park.

A more respectful paint job. It hasn't all been restored, but it's a start. Just in time for Memorial Day.

Photos from GeorgeTheAtheist's blog.

New zoning rules for flood areas

From Crains:

Up and down the coast of New York and New Jersey, property owners are being forced to raise their homes and businesses above a new 100-year floodplain drawn up and mandated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In the five boroughs, elevating multistory buildings present a particular problem.

"FEMA does this all over the country, but by-and-large, New York looks different than a lot of these places," said Howard Slatkin, the Department of City Planning's director of sustainability. "In addition to small homes, we've got rowhouses and apartment buildings and a streetscape we want to maintain."

On Monday, the city put forward its plan to address these problems by certifying a slew of proposed zoning changes that would allow for the elevation of buildings. For the past seven months, Mr. Slatkin and a team at the City Planning Department have been wrestling with the challenge of coming up with a way to fortify the city against future storms without destroying the urban character that makes New York unique.

If buildings must be raised five, eight, even 12 feet up on stilts, planners fear it could deaden New York's vibrant street life along coastal areas. In other words, will Jane Jacobs float?

The proposal "will relieve conflicts between zoning and steps owners of buildings in flood zones can take to make their buildings more flood resilient," said City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden. "It will enable [owners] to rebuild or retrofit [properties] to new flood protection standards and help restore the same amount of living and working space they were previously permitted."

The proposals will now be vetted over the next six months through the city's public review process, with input from the community boards in affected coastal areas across the city from Staten Island to the Bronx. The provisions will only be until a year after FEMA issues its final flood maps, expected in 2015, because the zoning changes are being undertaken through an expedited emergency zoning program. The city will study the provisions it puts in place now to create a more thorough zoning proposal to be implemented in the future.

The city has already waived some zoning rules through an executive order following the storm, but these new zoning changes will be more permanent and nuanced.

Another unholy alliance: Vallone & Liu

From the Politicker:

Queens Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. is a self-proclaimed conservative Democrat, a sharp-tongued proponent of stop-and-frisk and a perpetual thorn in the side of the borough’s Democratic establishment. John Liu is perhaps the most left-wing candidate in the mayoral race, in favor of abolishing the controversial anti-crime tactic and was once a darling of the Queens Democratic Party.

Yet Mr. Liu, the city comptroller running for mayor, and Mr. Vallone, who is running for borough president, may form a seemingly unlikely alliance that could further both of their ambitions.

The two Democrats have been in discussion about a plan to endorse each other, help carry petitions for each other and aid in pulling votes from certain constituencies, according to several Queens Democratic insiders familiar with their plans.

“Nothing’s set yet and I am weighing my options when it comes to mayoral endorsements,” Mr. Vallone told Politicker this afternoon when reached for a response. “But certainly, I would absolutely be considering the only candidate from Queens County.”

Mr. Liu is extremely popular in the Asian community and, with no Asian candidates in the borough president’s race, the large Queens voting bloc is up for grabs. Mr. Vallone, whose dad was a storied institution in Astoria, has his own loyal following, potentially bolstering Mr. Liu’s standing in the neighborhood.

“I think John Liu is going to help Peter Vallone in a big way in Flushing and with the Asian community,” said one insider. “What is John Liu’s option at this point? He needs someone to get petitions, signatures and share the costs–it’s very expensive.”

Though far apart politically on many issues, Mr. Vallone said he and Mr. Liu have long been friends, riding motorcycles and wave runners together.

What happened to Moynihan Station?

From the NY Times:

The owners of Madison Square Garden have been given an ultimatum: Make life more bearable for the hundreds of thousands of commuters who shuffle daily through the corridors of Pennsylvania Station crammed beneath the arena or face eviction.

The New York City Planning Commission voted unanimously on Wednesday to extend the Garden’s operating permit for 15 years, during which time the arena’s owners could either make plans to move or substantially improve the transportation hub.

“The best possible outcomes for the city would be a relocated Madison Square Garden coupled with a rebuilt Penn Station,” said Amanda M. Burden, the city’s planning commissioner.

The vote was the latest chapter in a continuing campaign that has been waged on and off for the last 50 years, ever since the original Penn Station was torn down. The destruction of that elegant station prompted a landmarks preservation movement that has saved numerous historical treasures in the city and across the nation.

Friday, May 24, 2013

CB3 almost unanimously votes down Mets shopping mall

From Willets Point United:

By a wide margin of 30-1 (plus 1 abstention), CB3 voted on Thursday night to disapprove the proposed "Willets West" mall / Willets Point development. The landslide vote endorsed the earlier recommendation, on Tuesday night, of several CB3 committees, and took place after a public hearing on the matter. Reasons for CB3's disapproval include the project's huge and unaddressed traffic congestion and related negative impacts, failure to prioritize housing and a school, overcrowding of subway and bus lines as a consequence of the project, and disregarding the Advisory Committee and Queens officials when selecting the plan and the developers. CB3 concluded: "The proposed project would change the character of the surrounding neighborhoods and impact the livelihoods of 250,000 residents and many small mom-and-pop businesses."

Likely aware of the committees' Tuesday recommendation to disapprove the project, no representative of developers Sterling Equities and Related Companies, or the city, bothered to attend the Thursday night public hearing.

Although CB7 voted last week to approve the same development project by a very slim margin of 22-18 (notoriously, after the CB7 committee had rejected it the week before by a vote of 7-2), the city's Uniform Land Use Review Procedure ("ULURP") entitles other affected community boards to also evaluate a land use application that "may significantly affect the welfare of the district or borough served by such board". CB3 has exercised that right, and decided to disapprove the application. So at the moment, the Willets West mall / Willets Point development has been approved by CB7 by a very slim margin, and rejected by CB3 almost unanimously. ULURP does not give any greater weight to any particular community board's recommendation – so both boards' recommendations must be equally considered by the next decision-makers.

Kind of funny how one community board bent over backward to ensure a "yes" outcome, while another boldly voted "no".

Remember the Sage!

The Queens Gazette has an announcement about the opening of the Nevada Diner in Elmhurst, which has replaced the Pop Diner/Pop City Grill (which replaced the Sage Diner - site of an infamous 1986 shootout). There apparently is another Nevada Diner in Bloomfield, NJ, with the same theme and decor, so it probably is owned by the same entity. Early reviews aren't good, but then again, the Pop was pretty awful as well.

CB1 doesn't think Astoria is developed enough

From DNA Info:

Queens Community Board 1 voted Tuesday night to unanimously approve a developer's plan to bring thousands of residential apartments, parkland and retail space to a stretch of Astoria waterfront known as Hallets Point.

Lincoln Equities Group is applying for zoning changes in order to go forward with the project, and still needs the approval of several other government bodies in the city's Uniform Land Use Review Procedure.

If ultimately approved, the project would bring 11 buildings ranging from 11 to 31 stories high to seven acres of the waterfront.

The development would include more than 2,000 apartments, 20 percent of which would be designated affordable, the rest market-rate. Construction would start in late 2014 or early 2015, the developer said.

Ain't no wave strong enough...

From the NY Post:

The city is moving closer to getting emergency housing with the selection of a three-story, three-unit prototype — complete with balconies — that will soon be erected next to the Office of Emergency Management in Brooklyn.

The prototype includes two, 822 square-foot three-bedroom units on the upper two floors, and one 480 square-foot one-bedroom handicapped accessible apartment on the ground floor — still far larger than the city’s 250-to-370 square-foot permanent Micro Units.

We’ve learned the mini-complex — designed by Garrison Architects of Brooklyn for American Manufactured Systems and Services of Vienna, Va. — was selected this month for the $1,135,147 contract by the US Army Corps of Engineers.