Monday, June 30, 2014

Chinese come to US illegally thru Mexico

From the NY Post:

The signs at the Texas border offer a glimpse of the enormity of the problem of unaccompanied minors trying to sneak into the US.

The instructions are printed in English and Spanish, of course — but also, surprisingly, they’re instructions for help are also in Chinese.

Hundreds of Chinese teens are slipping into the US a year, immigration groups say, mostly through Central America and Cuba.

They make their way to New York City, typically on buses, where they are farmed out across the country to work in Chinese restaurants.

Council calls for more manufacturing support

From the Queens Chronicle:

The battle to maintain manufacturing and industrial space has raged on for years on the hyperlocal level in many Queens neighborhoods and areas citywide.

Now, the City Council is requesting Mayor de Blasio to take significant action to ensure the survival of the city’s 21 industrial business zones.

Resolution 228, introduced on May 14 and discussed at a June 19 hearing jointly held by the committees on Economic Development and Small Business, calls on de Blasio to revitalize the defunct Mayor’s Office of Industrial and Manufacturing Businesses

Co-sponsored by 12 city lawmakers, including Queens Councilmen Antonio Reynoso (D-Brooklyn, Queens), Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton) and Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria), the resolution is not legislation. Instead, it is a formal request for the city’s executive branch to take action on the issue.

...the Council is calling for the former industrial business oversight agency to be revamped in order to “grant the manufacturing sector a strong voice in city government,” as per its resolution.

Councilman Dan Garodnick (D-Manhattan), chairman of the Council’s Economic Development Committee, discussed at last week’s hearing how critical it is that the city doesn’t “simply develop away our manufacturing zones.”

“While manufacturing saw considerable decline over the last few decades, we are happy to see some growth again in the last few years,” Garodnick said. “And it’s important that the city be present to support that growth. The city needs to prioritize protecting industrial space.”

City to hold a bunch of pointless meetings today

There's one about providing more traffic safety in Maspeth hosted by Liz Crowley. (Except that CB5 already gave a bunch of safety suggestions to DOT and they did nothing about them.)

There's one about the butchering of the Ridgewood Reservoir in Glendale (but Parks seems to think St. Pancras is in Ridgewood).

There's one about the surprise Pan Am homeless shelter which is already full.

Attendees should be prepared for a bunch of bureaucrats to spew a bunch of bullshit.

Tappan Zee project may put NYC up sh*t's creek

From Capital New York:

In an unusual exchange of roles, the federal government is warning the state against a possible diversion of infrastructure funding from the city, while the New York City mayor is unconcerned.

Historically the E.P.A. has sent money to the state's Environmental Facilities Corporation, which then distributes that money in the form of low-interest loans to local governments, “primarily to build or upgrade wastewater treatment systems,” according to Enck. Then the municipalities repay the loans and replenish the fund.

In New York City's case, that money would go to the Municipal Water Finance Authority, the self-sufficient public authority that finances water and sewer capital projects with water usage fees and federal and state funds, some administered by the New York's Environmental Facilities Corporation.

Last year, the city used $317 million in Environmental Facilities Corporation funding, and it anticipates using $300 million a year over the next three years, according to Rahul Jain, a Citizens Budget Commission researcher. That, presumably, is how the E.P.A. got to $900 million.

(The E.P.A. responded to all questions with a statement promising to work with New York State to "ensure that all Clean Water State Revolving Fund spending is consistent with federal law.")

In a move that has rattled environmentalists and good-government advocates concerned about the state's and city's billions in unmet wastewater treatment needs, Cuomo recommended, and the authority he effectively controls agreed, that $511 million of that federal money should instead go toward projects related to his $4 billion replacement of the Tappan Zee Bridge.

Two more state-controlled authorities still have to approve the loan.

Parks cuts down tree instead of unchaining it

"Hi QC,
I don't know how it all happened but the oak mentioned in the post of 6/19 has been taken down.
It was a beauty...unchained, with finality, by a chain saw." - Rachel
Here's proof tha, posting stuff here gets action. Unfortunately, this wasn't exactly the action most of us had in mind... It was nice of them to cut the tree down but leave the concrete sitting there so now it's even more of an eyesore.

Service Request #: C1-1-985659537
Date Submitted: 06/28/14 9:46:05 PM
Request Type: New Tree Request
Details: For One Address

Thank you for contacting New York City 311. Your Service Request has been sent to the Department of Parks and Recreation for action.

Perhaps planting a new tree will take care of it. Unfortunately, that concrete crap is likely to sit there until the next planting season, because this is how the Parks Department rolls.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Jamaica High School graduates its last class

From DNA Info:

Jamaica High School, which has been a fixture in the neighborhood for more than a century, closed for good earlier this week, the Department of Education said.

Despite initial protests, the school closed four years after it was slated to be phased because it was one of several of the poorest-performing schools that the previous administration targeted for closing.

A document discussing the possible closure of the school, issued by then Chancellor Joel Klein in 2010, stated that "the New York City Department of Education (DOE) is proposing to phase-out Jamaica High School based on its poor performance and the DOE’s assessment that the school lacks the capacity to turn around quickly to better support student needs."

The document also said that "the Progress Report results for Jamaica High School put the school in the bottom 7% of all high schools that received a 2009-2010 Progress Report" and that the school's graduation rates remained around or below 50 percent for more than a decade.

No new students were admitted to the school since 2011, but those who were already enrolled were allowed to stay until they graduated.

According to the school's website, only 35 students were enrolled in the school during its last year.

You might want to stay on the sand...

From PIX11:

If you’re thinking about taking a dip at the beach this summer, you may want to think again.

Turns out the water on New York’s beaches is pretty dirty.

According to a study done by the Environmental Protection Agency, New York ranks 20th out of 30 states tested in beach water quality.

The Natural Resources Defense Council has created charts for people to see how much bacteria is in the water they are swimming in.

Looks like the Rockaways are pretty clean. But don't take a dip in Douglaston!

Diversity Plaza is a little too vibrant

From DNA Info:

Two police officers have begun patrolling Diversity Plaza in response to complaints about vagrants, loud music and other safety issues, according to the precinct's commander — good news for those who say the plaza has become a scourge in the neighborhood.

One officer is stationed on Broadway and 37th Road and another on 74th Street and Roosevelt Avenue, with a focus on "proactively addressing any of the conditions [at Diversity Plaza] as well as making contacts with members of the community and partnerships w/the community," according to Deputy Inspector Michael Cody of the 115th Precinct.

He made the announcement at Community Board 3's June meeting, which was held outside at the plaza.

"Right here in Diversity Plaza, there's been a lot of complaints of vagrants, loud music, running the gamut," he said. "I know it's a very vibrant area and it's used for a lot of great purposes for the community."

Most of the complaints have been for drinking in public and sleeping on the ground among other things, he added.

The officers are on patrol from 2 p.m. until 6 a.m., Cody said.

Filthy Flushing is hard on the eyes

"Triangle at Prince Street, downtown Flushing.
...and filthy!
Then there's the doggy poo about 2 blocks away. What's the Flushing BID been doing?" - The Flushing Phantom

Queens loses a lot of new street trees every year

Courtesy of WNYC.

Bear in mind that the landscape contractors that are hired and paid the $1450 per tree by the City to install street trees - are required to water and care for those trees under a 24-mos. warranty.

Tree watering is the most important event in the life of the newly installed tree especially during the period of establishment. Yet, since 2007 NYC Parks Forestry has been unwilling to effectively enforce the watering requirement and/or generate an alternate incentive that would motivate the paid landscaper to go out and irrigate those street trees on a weekly basis (for the duration of the growing seasons).

Instead, guilt is placed unfairly upon the public who already paid for the tree, its installation, its multi-year care - and a contractor is left off the hook.

Carsten Glaeser

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Pavilion rehab work partially funded

From the Queens Chronicle:

The capital budget passed by the City Council early this morning includes $5.806 million for upgrading the aging New York State Pavilion, the crown jewel of the 1964-65 World’s Fair.

Borough President Melinda Katz, a staunch advocate of restoring the rusting Tent of Tomorrow and Observation Towers, issued a statement in which she expressed her gratitude to the city for recognizing the iconic nature of the pavilion and its importance to the borough’s image.

According to Katz, the $5.806 million will be used to upgrade the pavilion’s electrical system, rebuild the staircases inside the Observation Towers and repair the concrete platforms supporting the observation decks at the top of each of the three towers.

About $4.2 million is provided by Mayor de Blasio, while $628,000 comes from the City Council and the remaining $979,000 comes from Katz.

The $5.806 million is a far cry from the estimated $72 million it would cost to completely restore and reuse the pavilion, according to studies presented by Parks Department representatives at a meeting of the Borough Board last November.

Assembly Member turns out to be illegal alien

From the NY Times:

A New York assemblywoman in her first term became the latest state lawmaker to be forced out of office as she pleaded guilty on Friday to two felonies in Federal District Court in Manhattan.

The assemblywoman, Gabriela Rosa of Manhattan, unlike some of her convicted colleagues, was not accused of bribery; she was undone by making false statements, including one concerning a fraudulent marriage that she admitted was part of an immigration scheme.

Ms. Rosa told Judge Denise Cote that she had gotten married some years ago to “regularize my immigration status.”

“I married this person and it was not a real marriage,” she said.

Prosecutors said that around 1996, Ms. Rosa, a citizen of the Dominican Republic, paid a United States citizen about $8,000 to enter into “a sham marriage” while she was in a relationship with a man she would later marry; she ended the sham marriage a few years later. In subsequent submissions to the immigration authorities, she falsely represented that her marriage had been bona fide, the government said.

Ms. Rosa pleaded guilty to two counts of making false statements, to immigration authorities and in a bankruptcy proceeding. As part of her plea, Ms. Rosa agreed to resign from the Assembly, where she had represented the 72nd Assembly District, which includes Washington Heights, Inwood and Marble Hill.

Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan, said that Ms. Rosa’s crimes “cut to the heart of her legal qualification to serve the people of the State of New York as a New York State assemblywoman.”

“She gained the ability to run for that office only as a result of a yearslong immigration fraud, and then she compounded her lack of fitness to serve by defrauding a federal bankruptcy court,” Mr. Bharara said.

Ms. Rosa also admitted that she had received $1,000 from a representative of a foreign government in connection with her election to the Assembly, a violation of the campaign finance laws, and she agreed to return the money, her plea agreement says.

Although she faces a maximum of 10 years in prison when sentenced on Oct. 3, the plea agreement says that both sides have agreed that the recommended guideline range is 12 to 18 months.

Asbestos? PCBs? So what? Let's talk affordable housing!

From the Queens Chronicle:

Last week, Community Board 1 unanimously voted against the building proposal for development of Astoria Cove unless the developers agree to several conditions it laid out.

It was deemed a victory by many of the union workers and affordable housing advocates in attendance.

As it turns out, there was one factor that was left unaddressed, a possible investigation of a portion of the site for environmental law violations.

“In 2012, there were two ongoing investigations on the land, one conducted by the [Environmental Protection Agency] and the other by [the Department of Environmental Conservation],” Stephen Benavides, director of research for Laborers’ Local 78, said.

According to Benavides, the agencies were investigating Tri-State Cleaning Solutions, now known as ALR, the former owner of old buildings at the site.

The DEC investigation involves alleged illegal dumping of asbestos-containing material as well as use of the site at 801 26 Ave. in Astoria as an illegal transfer point for friable asbestos.

“The developers conducted a limited visual screening of the land,” Benavides said. “This does not provide an accurate idea of what is going on because it’s not only asbestos, there are PCBs and underground petroleum tanks that were closed in the 1990s. In my experience, these things leak.”

During a public hearing CB 1 hosted before voting on the proposal, a woman named Jeanie stood up and voiced her concern over the possible environmental and health risks. She was cut off due to time restraints but was adamant that Alma Realty and the rest of the Astoria Cove developers were making a mistake.

Alma Realty and CB 1 could not be reached for comment.

The DEC could not confirm the existence or status of the investigation.

Oh my, now that the cat's out of the bag, what will happen?

Rockaway ferry funding nixed

From the Daily News:

The Rockaway Ferry will be docked this fall after failing to make the cut in the city’s 2015 budget Tuesday morning.

The city’s temporary funding for the ferry will be slashed in October after Queens Borough President Melinda Katz tried to convince City Council to earmark $8 million from the $75 billion budget to fund permanent ferry service.

The money went toward the illegal alien ID program instead. (You folks down there don't vote the right way.)

Inappropriate school behavior under investigation

From NBC:

The Department of Education is investigating after NBC 4 New York obtained a video showing kids fighting and horsing around in the middle of the day, apparently on school grounds.

The video shows a room full of students, some throwing punches and others wrestling.

A concerned mom who did not want her identity disclosed told NBC 4 New York her child, a student at M.S. 226 in Ozone Park, was in the trailer last week and showed her the video.

"It just seemed like a cage and kids going wild," the mom said.

She says her child was sent to the trailer as punishment one day last week because the child was not wearing the required school shirt. The child says all the kids in the trailer were there for detention, and that the trailer is regularly used for that purpose.

NBC 4 New York could not independently confirm where and when the video was shot, but the mother and child say it was the day the child was in the trailer.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Developers and politicians against airport safety

From the NY Post:

The government wants to dramatically reduce the allowable height of buildings near hundreds of airports — a proposal that is drawing fire from real estate developers and members of Congress who say it will reduce property values.

The Federal Aviation Administration proposal, supported by airports and airlines, is driven by encroaching development that limits safe flight paths for planes that might lose power in an engine during takeoff. Planes can fly with only one engine, but they have less power to climb quickly over obstacles.

Airlines have to plan for the possibility that a plane could lose the use of an engine during takeoff even though that doesn’t happen very often. As more buildings, cellphone towers, wind turbines and other tall structures go up near airports, there are fewer safe flight paths available. Current regulations effectively limit building heights based on the amount of clearance needed by planes with two operating engines.

The FAA’s proposal has created “a real estate and developer firestorm,” said Ken Quinn, a former FAA chief counsel who is representing several developers. “A single building can be worth $100 million and more. If you are talking about lopping off whole floors, you can ruin the economic proposition and you can destroy the viability of the building, so you are talking about easily a $1 billion in economic impact.”

Cellphone tower owners and operators are also concerned.

No answers yet for DEP fiasco

From the Forum:

DEP Deputy Commissioner Vincent Sapienza stood beside Mario Bruno, assistant commissioner for intergovernmental affairs, and fielded question after question over how the city planned on handling water damage claims after more than five inches of rain flooded and left hundred of homes in Lindenwood in ruins on April 30. The agency admitted last month that a malfunctioning sewer facility was to blame but must officially admit fault in a report to Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office in order to assess damages and determine compensation.

Soon after the storm, the DEP released a statement finding its Spring Creek Combined Sewer Overflow Retention Facility on Flatlands Avenue “did not function as intended” and reached capacity the night of the rainfall. The Spring Creek facility, which started service in the mid ‘70s, stores up to 20 million gallons of rainfall and wastewater and reached its limit April 30, along with the Ward and Jamaica Wastewater Treatment Plants on the same evening, the DEP said.

“It is still being assessed which homes were affected by the overflow at the Spring Creek facility,” Sapienza said, sparking an eruption of disgust from the crowd. Several residents shot up and shouted, “It was your fault!”

After the rainfall, residents were urged to file water damage claims with the comptroller’s office within 90 days of the event. Ariola speculated the city was playing games by making residents wait this long for a final report from the DEP and asked the reps if they were simply trying to wait out the 90 days.

LIC building sells for ridiculous price

From Crains:

RXR Realty, the real estate investment firm that has become one of the largest office landlords in Manhattan, is now also one of the busiest buyers in the outer boroughs, where it has just cut a deal to acquire the Standard Motors Building in Long Island City, Queens, for $110 million.

The six-story property at 37-18 Northern Blvd., may be best known as the headquarters for the Jim Henson Co., the famed puppet-making shop and children's programming production outfit. Other tenants in the 95-year-old, 315,000-square-foot property include the one that gave the building its name—Standard Motor Products Inc., a manufacturer of automobile engine parts and systems, which continues to base its operations there.

RXR Realty is buying the property for nearly three times the $40 million that seller Acumen Capital paid for it six years ago in a bad market. Among other things, the big run up in the price is a reflection of how much values have risen in gentrifying markets like Long Island City that have become more attractive among office users. In another sign of a changing market, three of the city's biggest property brokers—CBRE's Darcy Stacom , Bill Shanahan and Paul Gillen—handled the sale for Acumen Capital.

Council Members want foreclosures condemned

From the Observer:

Council members Donovan Richards, Daneek Miller and Mark Levine rallied with activists and academics on the steps of City Hall today to call on the city to use eminent domain to stop home foreclosures.

They discussed a new report by the left-leaning New York Communities for Change (N.Y.C.C.), which revealed that thousands of African-American and Latino homeowners were still at risk of losing their homes due to foreclosures and underwater mortgages.

Mr. Richards, who represents areas like southeast Queens and the Rockaways that were hard-hit by the foreclosure crisis and Hurricane Sandy, went straight to the point.

“I’m here because I think the people need their bailout. Didn’t the banks get their bailout? So why can’t the people get a bailout?” Mr. Richards said. “Today I stand with N.Y.C.C. to call on New York City to use eminent domain to really seize these mortgages and make a difference in the lives of New Yorkers.”

Financial institutions have aggressively opposed the usage of eminent domain in this instance and questioned its legality–it remains unlikely, observers say, that it will be implemented in New York City. Mr. Levine, however, said the tactic could be viable.

Queens screwed out of fireworks again this year

From the Times Ledger:

When the mayor announced in April that the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks were moving back to the East River this year, there was excitement among business owners and elected officials that there would be an economic windfall along the Queens waterfront.
Anthony La Vigna

But a review of the plans for the nation’s largest pyrotechnic display show that the closest barge will be anchored between the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges way too the south.

Amy Spilatnick, a spokeswoman from the Mayor’s office, said, “We anticipate that the 4th of July fireworks display will be visible in part from a variety of locations in Queens, including but not limited to a good portion of the East River waterfront. The optimal viewing areas are listed on the Macy’s website.”

Macy’s website lists several viewing spots in Brooklyn and Manhattan, but there are no locations listed in Queens.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Shady library board plans to pull a fast one

From the Daily News:

The trustees of the Queens Public Library have scheduled an emergency meeting for Thursday night to remove their controversial director Thomas Galante, while also granting him more than $800,000 in a golden parachute consulting deal, the Daily News has learned.

Word of the hastily scheduled meeting prompted Public Advocate Letitia James, an ex-officio member of the library’s board, to request State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who regulates non-profit organizations, to join her in seeking a court order to halt the proposed vote.

In a letter late Wednesday to Schneiderman, a copy of which the News obtained, James blasted the trustees’ attempt “to reward the current President with an employment contract that is too favorable in terms, or that will provide him with assets of the Library upon his departure or removal.”

Under the proposed deal, Galante would resign the $392,000-a-year chief executive post he has held for 10 years, and would be given instead a consultant job until July 31 on an “as needed basis” - at a salary of $407,876, said two trustees who were briefed on the deal.

Then on Aug. 1, Galante would begin a two-year consulting job for the library at $386,779 annually. He would also be paid an additional $50,000 on Aug. 1, 2015.

UPDATE: The meeting was canceled.

A man walked into McDonald's with a knife in his back

From WPIX:

A man calmly walked into a Queens McDonald’s with a knife sticking out of his back Tuesday morning, apparently after an earlier altercation outside.

According to police, the 50-year-old man walked into the McDonald’s on Sutphin Boulevard at about 10 a.m.

While patrons were screaming at the site of the bloody knife between the man’s shoulder blades, the victim was talking on his cellphone calmly, telling his family what happened.

Cops told PIX11 the man was involved in a fight on Sutphin Boulevard with two men minutes before he walked into the fast food eatery.

Jamaica rezone not working out as planned

From the Epoch Times:

In 2007, a plan to rezone 368 blocks of Jamaica in Southeast Queens was put in place to spur development in the Southeast Queens regional hub. The economic downturn soon hit the real estate market, and development halted.

On Tuesday, city officials from agencies in transportation, housing, infrastructure, economic development, and tourism all convened in York College to listen to a large group of community leaders.

But the community workshops also highlighted the challenges the mayor’s housing plan is facing.

The 10-year housing plan includes 80,000 new affordable units over the next decade, most of which will come from large development projects. This strategy relies on the strong real estate market spurring developers to build.

Alison Novak of The Hudson Companies, a residential development company with work all over the city, said they have been approached to do 80/20 projects (80 percent market rate units, and 20 percent affordable units) in Jamaica but couldn’t make the math work.

Housing bonds and tax incentives from the city do not cover affordable units in a way that makes them comparable to market rate units for the developer, which means the market rate portion of the building effectively subsidizes the affordable units.

And in Jamaica, Novak explained, even market rate units fall under prices of what would be considered an affordable unit for a middle-income family or less.

Hatchet buried in Albany

From the NY Observer:

The rift between mainline Democrats and the Independent Democratic Conference appears to have been mended.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and State Senator Jeff Klein, the leader of the breakaway faction of Democrats that governs the senate with the GOP, said in a joint statement this afternoon that the Democratic conference and the IDC would unite in a new power-sharing agreement after the fall elections, sidelining the Republican Party.

“As Democrats, the IDC remains committed to the fight for an equal education for all New York students – which the Dream Act would provide, protecting a woman’s right to choose, increasing workers’ wages, and enacting meaningful campaign finance reform. I agree with Governor Cuomo that these are progressive priorities we must pass,” Mr. Klein said in a statement.

“Therefore all IDC members are united and agree to work together to form a new majority coalition between the Independent Democratic Conference and the Senate Democratic Conference after the November elections in order to deliver the results that working families across this state still need and deserve,” he added.

Mr. Klein and Mr. Cuomo, along with Mayor Bill de Blasio and labor leaders, have met behind closed doors in the past few days to discuss the possibility of reconciliation. Mr. de Blasio helped broker a deal to deliver the Working Families Party line to Mr. Cuomo last month and in turn Mr. Cuomo promised the left-leaning party–and Mr. de Blasio, a liberal Democrat–that he would work to put the Democrats in the majority.

Left-leaning Democrats have bemoaned the IDC-GOP power sharing agreement because it kept the Republican Party in the majority and stifled some liberal legislation. Democratic primary challenges were launched against IDC members this year in retaliation; it’s not immediately clear if these challenges, including ex-Comptroller John Liu’s bid against State Senator Tony Avella and ex-Councilman Oliver Koppell’s challenge to Mr. Klein, will continue.

Sewage nightmare in Queens Village

From the Daily News:

When it rains, it pours in Queens Village — and feces spews out of tubs and toilets, covering some basements with repulsive sewage, fuming homeowners told the Daily News.

Torrential downpours have deluged homes along 206th St. at least three times since April when the city’s Department of Environmental Protection wrapped up a project apparently meant to ease sidewalk flooding, longtime residents said.

“My nerves are shook!” said Nicole Johnson, 43. “Every time it rains, sewer water comes out the tub. It shoots up out of the toilet. Feces and everything comes in. It rushes in like a fire hydrant opening up. You can’t stop it!”

Johnson, a Long Island Rail Road employee, has spent $5,000 so far on insurance deductibles to fix the waterlogged basement her family sleeps in and on a new water heater after her old one was “knocked out” by the flood.

She lost furniture and clothes and still needs to repair walls damaged by the foot of water her basement took on during the first surprise surge on April 30, which was the tenth-wettest day in New York City history, officials said.

It is unclear why homes in Queens Village without chronic flood problems were suddenly taking on water.

A DEP spokeswoman said the agency is aware of the complaints and is investigating the cause.

Who will lead the Queens GOP?

From the Times Ledger:

Phil Ragusa, chairman of the Queens Republican Party, died Tuesday surrounded by his family after a short battle with leukemia, the party said.

Ragusa, who lived in Whitestone, had headed the Queens GOP party since 2007, according to spokesman Robert Hornak.
Bayside Pilates

“Chairman Ragusa will be remembered for his integrity and commitment to the democratic process and was viewed by many as not just a friend but a mentor,” Hornak said.

Ragusa was 74.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Illegal aliens will get ID cards *with discounts*

From Crains:

New York City is poised to approve the creation of municipal identification cards that would allow immigrants living in the country illegally to access key city services they were previously unable to obtain.

The City Council will vote Thursday to create the New York City Identity Card, Democratic Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito told the Associated Press on Monday. The card will be available to New Yorkers who can prove their identity and residence in the city's five boroughs.

The mayor, a longtime ally of Ms. Mark-Viverito, set aside more than $8 million in his executive budget for the creation of the program.

The card will also offer yet-to-be-determined incentives to encourage immigrants who have legal residency status to obtain them, Ms. Mark-Viverito's spokesman said. Advocates say they believe benefits, such as perhaps restaurant or museum discounts, will popularize the ID card and prevent a stigma from emerging around it.

Rikers Island guards in a lot of trouble

From NBC:

Investigators swept Rikers Island Monday, searching guards, inmate cells and offices as part of a probe of alleged drug and weapons smuggling by correction officers, officials said.

Some 75 locations throughout the facility were searched, according to the Department of Investigation and the Department of Correction.

In addition to possible smuggling, authorities said investigators are looking into allegations of assault and falsifying records.

DOI Commissioner Mark G. Peters and DOC Commissioner Joseph Ponte said in a joint statement that as many as 12 officers are expected to face charges.

Hardhat required when living near golf course

From WPIX:

Julio Rosario and his father-in-law Anthony Dolce live next door to each other on a nice block in Bayside, Queens. They’ve got the beautiful public Clearview Golf Course across the street.

A nice life, right? It would be if golfers could hit straight.

“Ever since we moved we’ve been getting pelted by these golf balls. On average, at least 20 a week,” Julio told me. “My car is damaged multiple times over the years, my house, my fence.”

And he’s worried every time his little kids have to go out.

Anthony told me, “I’ve had windows broken on my truck. On my wife’s jeep and now she has a dent on the roof of her car.”

Julio says the NYC Parks Dept. is giving him a hard time when he complains. It won’t cut down trees, claims it doesn’t have room to put up a net and told him if golfers cause damage, he’ll have to find them himself and pursue litigation himself.

Koo takes on overdevelopment

From the Times Ledger:

City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) has requested that the Department of City Planning take a look at overdevelopment in his district.

The councilman has asked the agency to conduct a study to determine areas that have “out-of-context” developments and to then make zoning amendments based on the study’s findings.

“My constituents deserve the best possible protections against overdevelopment in their neighborhoods, and I want to make sure no block is left behind,” Koo said.

The councilman’s appeal came after a group of Queensboro Hill neighbors became irate about a new two-story house on their block, at 146-15 56th Road, which they said dwarfed the small, single-story homes around it.

Don Capalbi, president of the Queensboro Hill Civic Association, forwarded the residents’ complaints to Koo’s office in February.

The new 2,290-square-foot house, which has been built legally under current zoning regulations, will replace an 899-square-foot home that was built in 1935 in a line of rowhouses, according to city Department of Buildings records.

#1 complaint for MTA is presence of homeless

From the Daily News:

The MTA referred to the police more rider complaints about the homeless than any other quality-of-life issue, records show.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority forwarded 122 gripes about the homeless to the police for possible action and intervention this year. That’s 42% of the 288 rider complaints the MTA passed along to cops. The second-highest category was graffiti and other vandalism, and third was subway acrobats.

Most of the complaints about the homeless were from riders who felt threatened or endangered, or believed that homeless people posed a danger to themselves, MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said.

The NYPD has a homeless outreach unit in the subway. The city Department of Homeless Services, the police and the MTA next month are launching an expanded effort to entice the subway’s homeless to get mental health and other assistance, and to move out of stations and trains.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Park projects take a really long time

From the NY Times:

David G. Greenfield, a city councilman from Brooklyn, is passionate about parks, having allocated $12.9 million to green spaces in his district since taking office in 2010. “Parks are a great equalizer,” he said. “Whether you’re rich, poor, young, old, you use parks. There really is no better expenditure of government funds than parks.”

But so far, none of the projects he has financed — including rehabilitated handball courts at Colonel David Marcus Playground and a bathroom renovation in Gravesend Park — has been completed. His frustration over the delays is shared by other council members and parks advocates, who say that capital projects in the park system take far too long.

With many small- to medium-size projects financed by council members and borough presidents, the delays are not merely frustrating for park users. They also threaten the well-primed spigot of money that flows from lawmakers’ discretionary funds into neighborhood parks. Often, elected officials miss out on the political payoff of their contributions: a ribbon-cutting with beaming constituents.

“We’ve started calling these ‘legacy projects,’ because it’s a legacy you’ll leave for your successor,” said Mr. Greenfield, whose district includes Borough Park, Bensonhurst and Midwood. “In the outer boroughs, we have council members who refuse to fund parks because they know that the likelihood that the project will be completed while they are in office is not very high.”

Why the hell are we having 3 elections?

From City and State:

Despite some high profile and important races, few New Yorkers are expected to vote in Tuesday’s primary. To make matters worse, this is just the first of two primaries in the state this year.

Unlike voters across the country, New Yorkers are being asked to participate in two primaries—one on Tuesday for federal offices and one on September 9 for state and local offices. It is not common to hold two primaries because it is expensive and requires voters to go to the polls twice something that is almost certain to depress turnout.

New York’s dual primary system is not cheap. By some estimates it costs the state a whopping $50 million. Talk about a fleecing.

An arguably more important issue, however, is that it decreases voter participation in a state that already has one of the lowest turnout averages in the nation. Over the last thirty years turnout in New York has been well below the national average. In 2012, a presidential election year, just 53 percent of New Yorkers cast ballots compared with an average 58 percent nationwide. This placed New York 44th among all the states and Washington, D.C. in turnout. In 2010, the last midterm election, turnout was even lower. While New York had previously been ranked one of the 10 lowest turnout states, by 2010 the state had the unenviable distinction of ranking dead last in terms of turnout.

Why is this condition allowed to continue?

"Ms. Boranian, as per our conversation on Monday, (6/16/14). 1 informed you that two boxes were strewn at James Fobbs' property. Furthermore, I told you that it is only a matter of time for a another mountain of garbage to emerge.

Rightfully so, and I do not have to be an expert detective. It is simple common sense. Your office, the borough president/ Melinda Katz has given the the two-legged animals ample rights. Your office makes no attempt to deter them from terrorizing the community.

Yet, the community is letting the B/P know that every time this despicable episode occurs her office is responsible.

In the last episode, the B/P office was provided with overwhelming evidence. (The abundance of food from the near-by deli). Nonetheless, the B/P took no action or none that was effective. So, without consequences the quality of life terrorists act with confidence; to the perils of residents, that is.

Ms. Boranian you are the constituents liaison at the B/P office; where the B/P is Melinda Katz.

Ms. Boranian, please start the process and have this atrocity removed. Team P/J will keep you posted on the next episode, as garbage becomes available. As soon as the B/P finds a solution, the complaints will stop.

Leroy Comrie, where are you? This plague is more that a decade old.

Photos were taken 6/16/14.
Address: 107-58 164 street, Jamaica.

Tweet, tweet." - Pamela Hazel

What a tangled web they tweed

From the NY Post:

Brooklyn’s borough president and a top deputy spent 11 days traveling in China at the expense of a nonprofit run by one of their own volunteer staffers, The Post has learned.

The Sino-America New York Brooklyn Archway Association Corp. shelled out nearly $7,000 for Beep Eric Adams and his deputy, Diana Reyna, to visit seven Chinese districts between May 22 and June 1.

The Chinese government kicked in an additional $787 for hotels, meals and travel in the city of Yiwu.

Winnie Greco, Borough Hall’s honorary ambassador to the local Chinese community for the past several years, formed the corporation as a noncharitable group in October 2012 — meaning it’s not required to file annual reports with the state attorney general.

Adams’ staffers say the trip, which was intended to promote economic development and tourism by signing two sister-city agreements and by securing a “Friendship Archway” for the Chinese community in Sunset Park, was cleared by the city’s Conflict of Interest Board one day before the departure date.

But they refused to provide a copy of the board’s letter clearing the trip, citing a policy of not releasing “interagency communications regarding official counsel.”

An itinerary of the trip shows the delegation, which included Greco and several members of the nonprofit, toured local schools on five of the six days that listed planned events — but the visits produced just a single proposal for a “teacher exchange and classroom learning exchange through Skype.”

Discussions for securing the archway, which would be donated by the Chinese government, but installed and maintained at Brooklyn’s expense, took up just one day.

Slumlords jailed

From the Daily News:

Two city slumlords were tossed in jail after they repeatedly refused to make basic repairs.

Kris Gounden, who owns a dilapidated six-unit building at 864 Elton St. in East New York, was put behind bars on Thursday on criminal and civil contempt charges.

He will remain in jail up to six months or until the violations are corrected and he pays more than $382,000 in civil penalties — a sum that represents the fifth-largest sanction levied citywide last year. He received five days in jail and a separate fine for the criminal charge.

There are 199 open code violations — more than 18 per unit — at this Bronx building at 1920 Loring Place South. At another, 974 Anderson Ave., there are 144 open code violations — or more than 16 per unit. Both buildings are owned by Mohammed Kayyali, who was jailed on June 9, on civil contempt charges, and faces up to six months behind bars.

In the Bronx, Mohammed Kayyali, who owns multi-family residential buildings at 974 Anderson Ave. and 1920 Loring Place South, was put in jail on June 9. He’s facing up to six months behind bars unless he makes more than $116,446 in fixes and pays $464,950 in penalties.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Broadway Stages now doing cellar repairs

Well here we are at the John Ciafone-owned 23-22 Steinway Street.
Last year, he applied for a permit to "CONVERT EXISTING ONE FAMILY APARTMENT TO STORE AND CREATE DUPLEX WITH CELLAR". The plans were justifiably rejected.
Now he's got a permit to do "minor concrete slab repairs in the cellar". I didn't realize you needed a permit to do "minor repairs". You'll note that the general contractor hired for this work is none other than Broadway Stages, which he supposedly works for part time and his wife half-owns. (Hopefully he'll go elsewhere for his garbage hauling needs.)

College Point burglar at large

From NY1:

Police are searching for a man they say is responsible for dozens of burglaries in Queens.

Police say the suspect is behind 25 break-ins in College Point since March.

Investigators say he enters through the front or rear of the houses and makes off with jewelry, electronics and cash.

He's described as being between 170 and 180 pounds and was last seen wearing a green-hooded sweatshirt with a zipper in the front.

Investigators say so far he's stolen $12,000 dollars in cash and $3,000 worth of foreign currency.

Broad Channel station is city's most dangerous

From Daily News:

Despite the sun-soaked platform and the saltwater-scented air, an uneasy breeze blows through the Broad Channel subway station.

An unprecedented Daily News analysis of subway crime and ridership data found that the tiny station — far from teeming Times Square and Grand Central — owned one of the highest crime rates of the system’s 421 stops.

There were 112 felonies and misdemeanors — ranging from assault to resisting arrest — recorded at Broad Channel across a five-year time period, ending in 2013.

With just 224 people swiping into the station on an average day, that works out to 27 crimes per 100,000 trips. A trip is defined as when a rider swipes into a turnstile, and does not include transfers at that station, which the MTA does not calculate.

Seven of the top 10 stations with the highest crime rates are not express or transfer stations, and four are on the Rockaway peninsula.

Broad Channel is a required transfer to the Rockaway shuttle, which goes to the western half of the Rockaway peninsula. The crowds can be both large and rowdy, filling the platforms from edge to wall, said a transit police officer patrolling an A train. Even when taking into account an estimated 2,700 daily transfers at the station, Broad Channel still has one of the highest rates in the system at two incidents per 100,000 trips.

Legislatures try to reform the library

From the Daily News:

City Hall and Albany both came down hard on the Queens Public Library this week after its embattled chief executive, Thomas Galante, refused to open the organization’s financial records.

In Albany, a bill to reform the library’s governance was approved by the State Senate by a vote of 59-1 on Friday. The measure was previously approved by unanimous vote of the Assembly, and Gov. Cuomo is expected to sign it into law.

Introduced by state Sen. Mike Gianaris (D-Queens), the bill would reduce the terms of the library’s trustees to three years, from five. It also would empower the mayor and the Queens borough president, who together appoint half of the library’s trustees, to remove an appointee at will. And it would subject the library to the state’s Freedom of Information Law.

In Albany, a bill to reform the library’s governance was approved by the State Senate by a vote of 59-1 on Friday. The measure was previously approved by unanimous vote of the Assembly, and Gov. Cuomo is expected to sign it into law.

The bill would allow Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, who championed the measure, to replace trustees who have rebuffed her demands to open the library’s books to the City Controller’s office and to suspend Galante from his $392,000-a-year post.

“I don’t want to remove members just to remove them, but I need for them to do the right thing,” Katz said Friday. “Taxpayers need to know the money they are spending on a great library system is being spent properly.”

The de Blasio administration’s budget deal with the City Council, reached Thursday night, granted the city’s three library systems just $10 million in new funding, far less than the $65 million they were seeking in order to restore full, six-day service at all branches.

The FBI and the city’s Department of Investigation launched probes of the library’s construction contracts after the Daily News revealed questionable expenditures by Galante, including a renovation of his executive suite that added a $27,000 private smoking deck.

The mayor’s office offered more money if the libraries agreed to open their books, two sources involved in the talks told The News. But when Queens library officials refused to do so, the administration limited the budget increase to just $10 million.

World's Fair plans are a long way off

From the Times Ledger:

One of the main advocates of a new World’s Fair is John Catsimatidis, a longtime, successful, New York City businessman. He has a radio talk show on 970 AM every Sunday morning from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. involving politics and current events.

Catsimatidis points out that the means of travel were improved especially during the second World’s Fair in the city. There were improvements made in subways, highways and bridges and most other forms of public transportation.

He believes the fairs present a vision of what the future can be like. He would like to see a future fair concentrate on technology. It could bring into focus the possible achievements of the free enterprise system.

Catsimatidis indicated that a new World’s Fair would bring many thousands of jobs to the city in addition to helping the retail sales operation increase the amount of business in stores, restaurants and places of entertainment.

It will be a long time before a new World’s Fair can be put into operation, however. Estimates run as high as 10 years from now. Catsimatidis has been in touch with the governor’s staff about setting up a committee to study the possibility of a future World’s Fair.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

No one interested in being DOB Commissioner

From Capital New York:

Six months and still no buildings chief, by Capital’s Dana Rubinstein: Bill de Blasio has been mayor for almost six months but still hasn’t named a commissioner for the Department of Buildings. Former buildings commissioner, Robert LiMandri resigned at the end of the Bloomberg administration, leaving acting commissioner Thomas Fariello to lead a department that’s synonymous we the the term bureaucracy. “In a lot of ways, the department is pretty self-sufficient, at least over the near term. It’s got five borough commissioners and a staff of roughly 1,000. But what it’s lacking, say experts, is leadership.”

The administration hasn’t been sitting on its hands. The mayor’s aides “have been turned down repeatedly,” Dick Anderson, president of the New York Building Congress, said. Sources said Maggie Kwan, an executive with high-rise experience at Tishman Construction, is being looked at closely. Kwan had no comment and the administration would not confirm that she was a candidate. “We have a strong leadership in place and will announce a new DOB commissioner once the decision is made,” said Maibe Ponet, a de Blasio spokeswoman, in an email.

Concern about gas pipeline under Rockaway

From WPIX:

Every night, a group of Rockaway residents watches with fear and worry as work is underway out at sea for the little publicized Rockaway Lateral Project Pipeline.

“It’s doesn’t matter if it’s on federal property,” Sandra Schunk told PIX11. ” It’s still our beach, our lives.”

Residents say the pipeline has gotten little attention because it’s mostly on federal property, the Gateway National Recreational Area.

It will eventually bring 647,000 dekartherms per day of fracked natural gas from the Marcellus Shale under high-pressure, beneath the beach, under a golf course, under the Marine Parkway bridge, through Floyd Bennett Field and eventually to distribution lines of Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn.

Community board member John Gaska told PIX11, “The board approved the pipeline. We have concerns about safety but it’s a positive for the community. Gas will be cheaper.”

When I saw the title of the video, "Queens residents fighting construction of Rockaway Pipeline", I thought I was going to read about an actual fight, but instead this report was just about a bunch of folks who are concerned but not doing much of anything about it. Oh well.

Why should he follow his own rules?

From The Real Deal:

Governor Andrew Cuomo has become the biggest beneficiary of a loophole in New York State’s campaign finance regulations that allows businesses and individuals to donate large amounts of money to politicians. The lion’s share of the donations appears to be coming from real estate developers.

The loophole in question allows limited liability companies, or LLCs, to give up to $150,000 a year to candidates and political committees. In comparison, the ceiling for corporations is $5,000.

Because developers typically establish an LLC for individual properties, they are able to easily take advantage of the loophole, according to a new report by ProPublica.

The data shows Governor Cuomo has raised $6.2 million from LLCs since he took office in 2011. That’s more than double the amount Eliot Spitzer and David Patterson received from LLCs in their combined four years in office, reports ProPublica.

Governor Cuomo’s top real estate donor is Glenwood Management, with $800,000 contributed through 19 LLCs, according to ProPublica.

The report also cites two donations from Extell Development worth $100,000. Those gifts came two days before the governor signed legislation that awarded Extell and four other developers tax breaks for projects, including Extell’s One57.

Principal accused of changing grades

From the Daily News:

Changes on final transcripts from failing to passing grades under principal Namita Dwarka have roiled W.C. Bryant High School parents and students.

Hot off a rally at the Astoria high school on Monday to protest Dwarka’s decision to cancel math and science programs and neglect special needs students, teachers have now come forward with allegations of rampant grade fixes.

“It’s all because she wants to increase graduation rates,” Gus Prentzas, president of the school’s Parent Association, told The News. “She would do anything to make herself look good.”

Gym teacher Peter Maliarakis, who claims he has a binder full of documents outlining Dwarka’s inappropriate behavior, was dumbfounded when he learned that one of his students had passed gym — even though he gave the senior a lowly 55 on his report card.

Spending like there's no tomorrow

From the Daily News:

A day after a deal on a $75 billion city budget, watchdogs said Friday they were concerned that spending is increasing without a firm program to attack deficits forecast in future years.

“There’s no margin for error,” Carol Kellerman, of the Citizens Budget Commission, said of the plan negotiated by Mayor de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

“If something goes wrong, or spending increase more than projected because things cost more than he anticipates, he hasn’t exercised the discipline to plan for ... savings.”

City Controller Scott Stringer said the budget was “financially prudent” but that “we should look at how to create savings within agencies.”

The budget is $5 billion greater than the $70B budget adopted at this time last year, a 7% increase that reflects, in part, de Blasio’s expansive view of government.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Filming halted in LIC

From the Daily News:

Long Island City residents sick of living in a Hollywood backdrop will get a respite from the blaring noise and klieg lights that have chewed into their scenery for decades.

The city issued a moratorium last week that puts the kibosh on filming from 46th Ave. to 49th Ave. between Center Blvd. and Vernon Blvd. in the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood.

“It’s such a relief,” said Long Island City resident Kenny Greenberg, 63, upon being told about the moratorium. “That’s exactly what we need. We won’t have as much stress.”

The temporary film ban came after residents griped they were tired of being behind the scenes for popular shows like the HBO series “Girls” and “The Good Wife” on CBS.

The glamour and star sightings, they said, came at a price — excessive noise, trailer fumes and fewer parking spots.