Sunday, August 31, 2014

A Murray Hill video tale

Hello! I bid you well.

My name is Julian Kim and I am a filmmaker who grew up in Flushing, Queens.

I would like to share my latest work with you entitled "Flushing Web Series".

It's funny how this whole thing started. I was walking down Roosevelt Ave one Monday to take the 7 train, but Monday morning's trash day. So you can only imagine what the smell is like: with all the crap and garbage from various restaurants lined up right up against the curb mixed in with their sad attempt to cover the smell up by pouring hot diluted soap water... The commutes on Monday mornings always are the worst. I grew up in Flushing my entire life but I still can't get used to the smell.

So I realized then how much I hated Flushing. I hated everything about Flushing and everything about Queens. Starting with the smell, loud music, hobos, and how crowded it gets with obnoxious people who either walk really slow or walk straight toward you for that annoying shoulder-to-shoulder collision. Oh, and all those dead animals on display for people to eat...

But at the same time, I realized this is also my hometown. Yes, it sucks (a lot) but every corner here in Flushing has a story of its own. Every piece of garbage probably has a story, too!

I wanted to highlight parts of Flushing and this would be my humble attempt. And I also humbly ask if you would just take your time to watch it and share your thoughts on your blog and Facebook page! You can be real and honest - I just would love to hear back from fellow Queens natives about the whole series!

Thanks and hope you have a good one!

Julian Kim
Creative Director ➶ || facebook
(516) 312-7525

Candidates Forum for U.S. Congress, 3rd District of NY

Video of Candidates Forum held August 26, 2014 by Bay Terrace Community Alliance, moderated by Warren Schreiber and Phil Konigsberg. Copyright 2014 LoScalzo Media Design LLC. All rights reserved.

The latest crap that architecture nerds think is cool

From Curbed:

Only one rendering—and few details—has been revealed for the ODA-designed apartment building that's rising next to 5 Pointz (RIP), but the eagle eyes over at New York YIMBY spotted another one on the architect's website.

Wow. I hope the cab will be permanently parked on the sidewalk. Provides a nice touch of authentic LIC.

Shalimar Diner needs to clean up its act

"When you walk in Rego Park, make sure you're walking in the middle of the block as you pass the Shalimar Diner at 63-68 Austin Street.

Although the Shalimar has knowledge that they are responsible for keeping up the area around the curbside tree, they just ignore it. The grass is nearly waist high and the garbage strewn and hidden in the tall grass makes it a trip & fall waiting to happen.

If you walk too close to the building, you may get hit in the head by pieces of the cement facade that are falling off. Makes one think what is going on in their kitchen with all this obvious neglect!" - Anonymous

Elevators out of service for months at Howard Beach complex

From WPIX:

What goes up must come down. Unless it’s an elevator at the Dorchester complex in Howard Beach. In that case, the elevator may be going nowhere.

I had to go back out there earlier this month. And I wasn’t particularly looking forward to it.

There are two buildings. Over the winter they had problems in the Dorchester Two. The elevator was out. Senior citizens, including a World War II vet, were forced to use the stairs if they could.

And I ran into two very unpleasant people. A VP of the co-op board and a foul-mouthed secretary in the management office who actually called the NYPD on me. Even though we were invited in by owners, she claimed we had no righto be there.

Imagine that.

Anyway, we helped expedite the long-delayed elevator repairs.

But now the same situation arose in the other building, the Dorchester One. I’m told that secretary no longer works at the complex. But the problem was still severe. Five months without a functioning elevator!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

DeBlasio planning to destroy something that actually works

From Huffington Post:

Even though nearly 70 percent of New York City's public school students are black or Hispanic, very few will be attending the city's most elite public schools when the doors open next week. According to some alumni of these specialized high schools, that doesn't mean their admissions systems are necessarily unfair.

The chance to attend one of the eight exam-based institutions -- like Stuyvesant High School -- depends on the student's score on the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT). These schools are considered among the city's best, and competition to get in can be fierce.

"In my opinion, the test system is purely on the basis of merit. There's no room for discrimination or bias," Larry Cary, president of the Brooklyn Tech Alumni Foundation, told The Huffington Post.

Cary is part of the newly formed Coalition of the Specialized High School Alumni Organizations, which represents over 100,000 graduates of those New York City schools. This week, the group announced that it believes the admissions process based on a single exam should remain unchanged.

According to data from the NYC Department of Education, black and Hispanic students last year made up only 12 percent of incoming ninth-graders offered spots at the exam-based high schools. This year, the numbers are basically the same: The share of black and Hispanic students accepted to the prestigious schools adds up to 11.5 percent.

The New York state legislature established the entrance exam system in the early 1970s for Stuyvesant, Bronx High School of Science and Brooklyn Technical High School. As more specialized schools opened, they adopted the same system for the most part. (The city has a ninth specialized school, Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, that chooses its students based on a combination of auditions and academics.)

Over the years, there have been attempts to reform the admissions process to ensure that the benefits of attending the best public high schools reach all communities in the city. Just this June, state legislators introduced a bill that would require the specialized high schools to factor multiple measures, such as GPA, into their admission decisions, as opposed to relying only on the SHSAT.

The Coalition of the Specialized High School Alumni Organizations disagrees with that approach. The group argues instead for a new initiative to give underrepresented communities access to better SHSAT test preparation and for a policy of letting students on the cusp of admittance apply again.

There are bright children of all races. The reason why there are fewer Black and Hispanic students accepted into prestigious schools is mainly because they tend to be stuck going to shitty middle schools which don't prepare them adequately for test taking of this caliber. So instead of fixing the middle schools, DeBlasio wants to dumb down the admissions process. Of course, the graduates of these schools are smarter than DeBlasio.

Assembly stalling on Forest Park cameras

From The Forum:

While a sexual predator responsible for six attacks in Forest Park remains at large, the application to install security cameras on the grounds is still being reviewed by the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, with no firm date set for the completion of the process.

“There was an initial delay by the city Police Department returning the preliminary application to the Ways and Means Committee,” said Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven), who formally requested the extra security measure. “After final review, the application will be sent to the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York for their own independent review of the NYPD’s application for the security cameras. Since we have no control over these processes, I cannot guarantee a date for the installation of the cameras; however, the process is moving swiftly and we will continue to follow up to ensure the cameras are installed as soon as possible.”

The bureaucratic procedure has done little to assuage the anxiety of park patrons and area residents. According to the NYPD, the suspect has struck half a dozen times during daylight hours over a two-year period inside the expansive, 507-acre flagship green space: On Aug. 26, 2013 he used a stun gun to subdue and rape a 69-year-old woman near Myrtle Avenue and Forest Park Road; on March 29, 2013, the suspect sexually assaulted a 23-year-old jogger; on Nov. 18, 2012 he assaulted a 40-year-old woman as she walked her dog; on Aug. 15, 2012, the man fondled a 34-year-old woman at Woodhaven Boulevard and Park Lane South; he struck and attempted to disrobe his youngest victim, a 13-year-old girl, on Sept. 7, 2011; and on March 25, 2011, in what cops believe was his initial attack, the man jumped a 54-year-old female jogger from behind on Park Lane South, the NYPD said.

Overdevelopment headed to the Bronx

From DNA Info:

The Department of City Planning would like to see waterfront development come to the areas around some Metro-North stations as part of a plan to foster economic growth and accommodate a booming population in the borough, according to a new report.

In the study, which focused on improving underused areas around the stations as well as better integrating them into the community, the department advocated redeveloping the waterfront by the University Heights and Morris Heights stations to help people more easily reach the Harlem River.

Many of the Metro-North stations in the Bronx have underutilized areas around them or are next to recreational areas that are cut off from the rest of the community by highways and other obstructions. They also are underutilized despite being in densely populated areas, compared to the subway, the report said.

Wills instroduces jail voter bill

From the Times Ledger:

Although jail detainees are kept behind bars, City Councilman Ruben Wills (D-Jamaica) says their votes should not be.

Wills introduced a bill at last week’s Council meeting outlining a process for the city Department of Correction to administer absentee ballot applications ahead of elections, distribute them to eligible voters and then return their ballots to the city Board of Elections.

In New York, inmates convicted of misdemeanors and those awaiting judicial rulings on felony charges are eligible to vote. Close to 81 percent of those in the state prison system are detainees who have been charged but not convicted of crimes, and are therefore eligible to vote, according to the Brennan Center for Justice policy institute, at New York University’s School of Law.

“I encounter more constituents than I would like ... that if they were in Rikers or another jail, they didn’t know they could vote. I have had people come up to me and tell me their voter record is messed up and they were never locked up or they had a misdemeanor conviction,” Wills said.

Neither the BOE nor DOC responded to requests for comment on the bill and how voting currently works in city jails.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Little Bay crapper on hold again

From the Queens Courier:

The completion of Little Bay Park’s comfort station is being postponed yet again, officials said.

The Parks Department said the most recent delay was due to a harsh winter and an unusually high amount of soil that had to be removed from the construction site.

The new deadline for completion is set for next spring and, once finished, it will end a project that has sputtered along for a decade.

Costa still not sold on Astoria Cove

From Crains:

At issue is the planned 1,723-unit Astoria Cove development on a peninsula that is also home to one of the city’s largest New York City Housing Authority housing projects.

The dispute stems from an unusual decision by the development team to impose on itself a requirement to build permanently affordable units. In exchange, the developer would be able to build a larger building—a tradeoff based on the city’s Inclusionary Housing Program.

The hitch is that the language in Alma’s proposal allows the makeup of those units to vary widely. While on the lower end of the spectrum, the team could build 345 units set aside for low-income households—the scenario that the team has committed to publicly—the team could get the same development bonus by instead setting aside nearly 700 units for moderate-income households.

It is that second scenario that concerns Mr. Constantinides. He noted that under that second scenario, the developer could charge $2,600 for a one-bedroom, a sum that he noted is equal to what luxury rental buildings along the waterfront farther south in Long Island City command in today’s market. The development team insisted that it has ruled out that higher-end scenario, and indeed in its public statements and various applications makes clear its commitment to affordable units for low-income households.

149th Street bridge should be repaired some time next year

From the Queens Tribune:

While the long-defunct 149th Street Bridge has caused headaches for Queens residents for years, the saga may be reaching its end.

The Dept. of Transportation said it plans to begin construction next fall for the 149th Street Bridge, which has been in need of major repairs for the last few years. While the bridge originally closed in 2010, it has yet to reopen due to problems with the previous work that was done.

The 149th Street Bridge, which stretches over the railroad, closed in May 2010 for demolition and reconstruction, with a scheduled reopening for November 2011. Numerous delays stalled the project’s completion, with the DOT discovering cracks in the cement of the new bridge in May 2012. The bridge was not safe for vehicular traffic and remained closed as a result, opening to pedestrian traffic only in June 2012.

For the next two years, the DOT remained silent on the bridge, until June 6, 2014, when it confirmed that the bridge has to be torn down and rebuilt again. The agency is pursuing litigation against the firm responsible for the bridge’s initial design.

Flushing’s elected officials recently met with Queens Borough Commissioner Dalila Hall to discuss the reconstruction’s progress. According to the DOT, the new design should be finalized by the end of the year, with a slated completion scheduled for November 2015.

Pre-K certification not going well

From Crains:

City Comptroller Scott Stringer said Wednesday that New York City is far behind schedule in submitting contracts with pre-kindergarten providers, which he says raises possible safety problems with some of the sites slated to be used for Mayor Bill de Blasio's signature program.

Mr. Stringer said that only 141 of more than 500 contracts have been submitted to his office even though school starts in just eight days for 50,000 students in the city's significantly expanded pre-K program. He said failure to provide those contracts to his office—which is required to review all city contracts—is preventing his team from doing safety checks.

"It is risky to be launching a program like this without the proper review," said Mr. Stringer in an interview. "Not getting the contracts means we can't do our due diligence."

"We can't sacrifice safety for expediency," he said.

Officials in the comptroller's office said they have found serious safety issues with a few of the vendors whose contracts they have inspected, including one which employed a staffer who had been charged with conspiracy to commit child pornography.

The sites that do not have approved contracts will still open Sept. 4 even if the paperwork has yet to be submitted by then to the comptroller.

Avella & Liu go head-to-head on NY1

NY1 is providing free access to the debate between Tony Avella and John Liu. Click here to view.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Please clean up the yuck

Hi QC, here's a forward of an email I sent to Forest Hills Gardens Corporation:
---------- Forwarded message ----------

Date: Aug 26, 2014 4:12 PM
Subject: Smelly, stinky, sticky, sickening sidewalks of Austin Street

I am writing to your organization to let you know about the horrible conditions on Austin Street.

The sidewalks on Austin Street have leakage from trash bags. These stains are smelly and sticky. In front of Chipotle restauraunt (70- 30 Austin St.) And the mall at 70-19 Austin St. I passed theses stains around 1pm today, what a stench. I don't want to step in that and track the rotting matter into my car or home. This environment discourages patronage of Austin street businesses. Even worse, it encourages rodents, roaches, causes allergies and is a growth area for mold and food borne bacteria such as Salmonella and Listeria.

This is more than the first time I witnessed this condition here and at other locations on Austin St. I am appalled that this condition exists ant where in NYC.Businesses should be putting their trash out in leak proof, rat proof, containers. Any leakage should be cleansed as soon as the business opens. I have attatched pictures of these sidewalks.Thanks for taking the time to help keep Forest Hills beautiful and vibrant. -Joe

Future of crappy plaza still under debate

From the Queens Courier:

Supporters of the controversial Ozone Park pedestrian plaza defended the space during a meeting about the plaza’s future, calling it an oasis in a neighborhood that is starved of public space.

But others said the plaza, located on Drew Street and 101st Avenue, is detrimental to business owners who feel that the loss of parking and the cut-off of two-way traffic is causing sales to drop.

“We wanted to create an open environment for the community,” said Darma Diaz, chief operating officer for the Bangladesh American Community Development and Youth Services Corporation (BACDYS), which is responsible for the upkeep of the plaza. “This plaza gives the opportunity for the community to have a place to go.”

She noted that public space is so minimal in the area that children have to use the nearby municipal meter lot, located at Elderts Lane and Glenmore Avenue in Brooklyn, for activities.

“This is the only place we have in our neighborhood where children could get together,” said one attendee of the Aug. 21 meeting at Queens Borough Hall. “We have never had a place for us to get together [until the plaza].”

But Khemraj Sadoo, owner of Super Clean Laundromat, located on the same street as the plaza, said there is viable space just two blocks down on Elderts Lane in Brooklyn and wants the plaza moved.

“We need the plaza moved,” Sadoo said. “Who will accept such a plaza in front of his face with such loss of business?”

I don't know, every time I see a photo of this plaza, it is empty. Maybe the community doesn't really need or want it. As for children getting together do what?

Fake cabbie assaults homeless family

From the Queens Courier:

A man claiming to be a cab driver tried to sexually assault a woman in Elmhurst before attacking her young children who were also in the vehicle, police said.

The 26-year-old victim was picked up with her three children, ages 1, 3 and 5, by the suspect at 207th Street in Manhattan on Sunday, officials said. Stating that he was a cab driver, he agreed to drop them off at 79-00 Queens Blvd., the site of the former Pan American Hotel, which was recently converted into a homeless shelter.

After stopping behind the building at about 2:45 a.m., the driver attempted to sexually assault the victim while her children were still in the car, according to police. When the woman tried to get out of the vehicle, the suspect elbowed the 5-year-old in the head and forcibly removed the 3-year-old from the car before fleeing.

Update 8/29: The perp was apprehended, and is being charged with assault and endangering the welfare of a child.

Affordable housing welcomed, yet feared

From NY1:

A stretch of Pitkin Avenue in East New York, one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city, could soon be transformed. The area is the first that the de Blasio administration is targeting for rezoning to pave the way for more affordable housing.

"A lot of us out here, we can't afford this high rent," said one resident of the area.

However, while many locals are desperate for better and cheaper housing, there is widespread concern that the development the city wants will not actually be affordable by neighborhood standards and will lead to gentrification.

With that in mind, the Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation is building 60 of what it calls deeply affordable units on a vacant lot. Rents will range from $600 to $1,000 a month, depending on income and apartment size.

"We're really targeting the people that live in the neighborhood now and the rents that they can afford," said Michelle Neugebauer of the Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation.

However, additional affordable housing may come attached to market-rate developments, which worries Rep. Hakeem Jeffries.

"We have seen many neighborhoods in Brooklyn lose the tremendous diversity that make those neighborhoods strong. We don't want to see the same thing happen out in East New York," Jeffries said.

Fresh Direct really got a sweetheart deal

Very interesting post over at Atlantic Yards Report:

ESD is about to give Fresh Direct a $9 million grant and a $1 million loan to move/expand from Long Island City to the South Bronx.

That's on top of $10.5 million from the New York City Industrial Development Authority and $1 million from the New York State Department of Transportation and $5 million in New Markets Tax Credit Equity.

Add $15 million from the investment fund Brightwood Capital, $40 million in the company itself, and a whopping $84,168,000 in an EB-5 loan.

Unmentioned are previous promises (which may have been adjusted) of $18.9 million in state Excelsior tax credits; $4 million in state energy grants and incentives; up to $1 million in vouchers for the purchase of electric vehicles; about $74 million in city sales tax exemptions, mortgage recording tax deferral, and real estate tax exemptions; $4.9 million in city energy benefits; $1 million capital grant from Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation; and a $3 million loan and $500,000 capital grant from the Borough President

Let's put aside the strangeness of the city and state subsidizing a cross-borough move based on a perceived threat from New Jersey, an unlikely base for a delivery service that needs quick access to Manhattan.

Or that Fresh Direct is moving after having gotten subsidies to stay in Queens through 2025.

Or that neighbors (see South Bronx Unite) pose some heavy concerns about the project's environmental impacts, and that if the promised job total is not reached, there's no "clawback provision" to recover subsidies. (See Good Jobs New York timeline.)

The really strange thing is the reliance, according to ESD Board Materials (p, 51ff.), on the EB-5 immigrant investor program, in which foreign millionaires, mostly from China, park $500,000 in a purportedly job-creating investment, get green cards for themselves and their families, and later get their money back. (In this case, they're getting a relatively high--for EB-5--rate of 4.5%.)

The developer gets cheap capital. The public is supposed to get 10 jobs for each investor.

According to promotional material supplied almost surely by the New York City Regional Center, the private investment pool set up to market EB-5 investments (and reap fees), the project would not be $166 million in total, but $208 million.

That's not the only misleading part. EB-5 funding is said to make up just 40% of the project, rather than more than 50%.

And Fresh Direct is said to be providing the rest of the funds, which is clearly not true.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Van Bramer was homeless as a baby

From the Daily News: parents got on the subway to a welfare office downtown, a ride they never thought they’d have to take.

My family’s journey into and out of homelessness began like so many others then and now. Dad was drinking heavily, money got tight, some poor decisions were made, and a family teetered on the brink of despair as a result.

...the city sent us to the Hotel Kimberly uptown. It was an awful place at the time, with rats in our room and constant break-ins. My father slept in a chair leaned up against the door to the room while the rest of us slept in the same bed. We lived in that hotel and under those conditions for six weeks.

My dad said he had no way to get us to a new apartment even if we found one.

All human beings have a right to shelter. Some may say that’s feel-good liberalism run amok, but in the City of New York, it happens to be the law. We must house our homeless, and that means finding places for families like mine to live and begin again.

In some cases, that will mean new shelters in neighborhoods that have not seen them before.

A cynic will say that throwing more money at the homeless is a waste. I disagree. Because it’s not just about a lot of money, it’s about a little bit of hope.


Now, take a good look at the amazing B.S. posted above. The family managed to ride the subway to a welfare office, but had no way to get to a new apartment, if found?

Jimmy's father drank heavily, and even though he was employed, he pissed away the family's money and then pissed off the relatives they were bunking with, and they ended up homeless. This was a self-made problem. They then lived in a shitty hotel in awful conditions.

And what is Jimmy's brilliant idea? Kick more money over to the likes of Samaritan Village et al, so they can open equally shitty hotels to house the families of modern-day drunks.

No solution is presented with regard to dealing with addiction, no solution presented with regard to providing permanent housing, no solution is presented with regard to perhaps moving people to areas of the country that they can actually afford on low wages.

Nope, communities better just like the fact that more popup homeless shelters are coming, and Jimmy is fine with shoveling our money at them. Somehow I think he'd have a problem if they opened one in Sunnyside Gardens. After all, he had a problem with the storage of firetrucks next to a park.
And why is he pictured posing in front of a church instead of at the Pan Am where you can see bunk beds pushed up against the windows and underwear draped over the window guards? Is he afraid of being questioned about why these mandated accommodations cost taxpayers $4,000 per month, which is a whole lot more than an apartment in his district?

Juniper Park area tagged with graffiti

Recently, there has been graffiti painted around Juniper Park. There are instances on the sidewalks and in the street around the park and just within the last 24 hours, someone sprayed graffiti (with explicatives) on the fence of a well kept private home. We need more police presence, especially at night, to catch these vandals! There is a curfew around the park starting at 9PM but often into the wee hours of the night there are juveniles hanging around. This will only get worse if nothing is done! Graffiti is a NYC crime. Our local precincts (104th for Middle Village) need to be constantly made aware of what's going on so they can (hopefully) take action. NYC offers rewards (up to $500) to anyone who provides information on the graffiti vandal.

I trust Elizabeth Crowley, our NYC Council Member and the Juniper Park Civic Association will assist in apprehending these vandals so we can keep Middle Village a "neighborhood" and not "the hood".

I have been informed that the graffiti is scheduled for removal on Friday. - QC

Changes to bus routes coming

From Epoch Times:

New bus routes and route extensions across New York City will start Sunday, August 31. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is making $4.9 million in bus service improvements for 2014, targeting growing neighborhoods.

Q8 extension
The route will be extended to a new bus terminal at Gateway Center II (Gateway Center North) in the Spring Creek area of Brooklyn.

Q17, Q27 terminal relocations
The terminals for both routes in downtown Flushing will be relocated from Main Street between 39th Avenue and Roosevelt Avenue to 138th Street between 39th and 37th Avenues.

Q113 Local becomes Q114 Limited
The Q113 local route will be restructured as the Q114 Limited to provide faster service to customers traveling a long distance along Guy R. Brewer Boulevard in South Jamaica and Rochdale Village. The new Q114 route will make limited stops on the Boulevard, then all local stops along Brookville Boulevard and through Woodmere, Cedarhurst, Inwood, Lawrence and Far Rockaway. During overnight hours, it will make all local stops along Guy R. Brewer Boulevard. The Q113 Limited will continue its limited-stop service from Jamaica through Far Rockaway, and the Q111 will continue to make all local stops from Jamaica through Rosedale.

Future Forest Hills medical clinic is a hot mess

From DNA Info:

The site of a planned health care facility on Austin Street has become a graffiti-covered mess after a series of construction delays, including being shut down by the city for unsafe work conditions.

Work began last summer at 71-57 Austin St. and the facility was supposed to open earlier this year. But since then, there have been issues with obtaining permits, as well as city-imposed stop work orders.

In July, two stop work orders were issued for hazardous conditions, including for failure to provide an adequate fence and for improper excavation procedures.

The orders have since been partially rescinded, with only emergency work allowed.

The site was hit with eight violations, including for failure to protect people at the site and not notifying the DOB of excavation. All of the violations remained open as of Tuesday.

The planned building is slated to house a walk-in health care center run by ProHealth, a physician group practice with facilities throughout New York and Long Island.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Upcoming skeeter spray schedule

These neighborhoods are expected to be sprayed overnight Wednesday night into Thursday.

Public property looks like crap

From Cleanup Jamaica Queens:
NYCDOT, city property at 92-33 168th St. This is hardly the first time this city property has looked like a garbage dump. In fact in my over three years here, it has always been a problem.
168th Street LIRR Overpass Tunnel.

(And the private property is even worse.)

Watch Tony Avella & John Liu speak

Candidates Forum held August 19, 2014 for New York State Senate, District 11. Copyright 2014 LoScalzo Media Design LLC. All rights reserved.

Spike in tire & rim thefts in Kew Gardens

From DNA Info:

Thieves have gone on a spree in Kew Gardens, snapping up rims and tires from 15 cars so far this year and prompting a local precinct to distribute fliers in an effort to put the brakes on the trend.

Most of the cars — largely imports — were left on cinder blocks, but in some instances, sources said, vehicles were placed on tree limbs.

Officers from the 102nd Precinct, which covers Kew Gardens, Richmond Hill, Woodhaven and Ozone Park, have been leaving leaflets on car windshields, informing vehicle owners about the rash of thefts.

“Lately there has been an increase in rims and tires being stolen from late model Honda Accords and Nissan Maximas, Infinitis, and Acuras within the 102 Precinct," although other car models have also been targeted, the flier says.

This year, there have been 33 rim and tire thefts in the 102nd Precinct as of Aug. 21, nearly half of them in Kew Gardens, according to the precinct.

In June, five such incidents occurred in Kew Gardens within a period of one week.

Not-for-profit did nothing for dough

From DNA Info:

The city is trying to get nearly $300,000 back from a Jamaica substance abuse center, which officials say may have misused the funds, according to court documents.

According to the complaint, filed in Manhattan Supreme Court on Aug. 8, New Spirit II signed a contract with the Department of Health in July 2008 and “received funding to deliver medically supervised outpatient services for the treatment of alcohol and chemical dependency between July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2009.”

After an audit was conducted in November 2011, the city demanded the nonprofit, on South Road and Guy R. Brewer Boulevard, return the $285,866, which the group failed to do, according to the document.

"This lawsuit is a routine action brought against an agency that failed to live up to its contract with the city," lawyer Alan Kleinman of the city's Law Department said in an email.

Kleinman declined to say where New Spirit II spent the money.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Guess who bought the Sunnyside Theatre?

From the Sunnyside Post:

...Center Cinemas’ lease comes to an end December 31 and Rudy Prichard, the owner of the movie theater, has yet to hear whether his lease will be renewed. He is not hopeful.

As for PJ Horgan’s, its lease ends June 2018. The owner of the bar could not be reached for comment.

The former bank building, on paper, is owned by 42-25 Queens Boulevard Realty Corp.

However, according to several sources, Gina Argento, the president of Broadway Stages, the Brooklyn-based TV and movie production company, is the owner.

Argento could not be reached for comment.


Just click the link above and you'll see it's true.

I suppose we'll see a John Ciafone banner hanging off the side of whatever is built here.

Affordable housing project requires unpopular variance

From the Times Ledger:

The city Board of Standards and Appeals is in the final stages of reviewing the application presented by the St. Albans Presbyterian Church and a Westchester-based developer to erect an affordable housing building on Farmers Boulevard.

During a review session Aug. 19, one of the board members questioned the parking demand study forwarded by the developer, an analysis concluding that “31 percent of the residents of the area commute by subway, but there is no subway in the vicinity.”

She added that “I don’t have a good idea what transportation alternatives are in the area.”

Sharon Johnson, of the St. Albans Civic Improvement Association, said the project “is not compatible with the zoning regulations in the area.”

To begin construction, the church is seeking zoning variances involving maximum building height, maximum dwelling unit and minimum parking. The project involves building a 67-unit structure of one- and two-bedroom apartments as well as a community center at ground level.

The plan calls for an affordable housing, five-story building construction on two empty lots on Farmers Boulevard between 118th and 119th avenues.

The area is zoned for low-residential units, and it is characterized by having one- and two-story homes along Farmers Boulevard as well as local stores.

Mike Pope, who lives approximately 400 feet from the site and opposes the project, said that if the developer and the church are serious about affordable housing, “they can build 23 units in two-story buildings within zoning regulations.”

Pope added that the “current zoning regulations should not be altered to allow for this monstrosity in the middle of Farmers Boulevard.”

Deed fraud becoming more common

From the NY Times:

They wandered into New York City government offices this week, indignant at how the cogs of bureaucracy had slowed their grand plans of thievery.

Lasharan Amos, 42, arrived on Tuesday at the New York City sheriff’s office in Queens, wondering why the city was taking so long to give her ownership of a home that the authorities said in fact belonged to her mother.

Two days later, Jethro Chappelle Jr., a former convict who uses a wheelchair because of a gunshot wound, did the same. He took an elevator to the 13th-floor City Register’s office in Manhattan, demanding to know why the city had not yet recorded two deeds he had filed for abandoned properties in Harlem.

Ms. Amos and Mr. Chappelle were promptly arrested and charged with various counts of grand larceny, perjury and offering false statements to public officials. Their arrests were the first since June, when the Department of Finance, in coordination with the city sheriff’s office, began flagging irregularities in a deed transfer system that has long gone unguarded.

Working with corrupt notaries public, or sometimes simply by searching public records online, those inclined to have long been able to forge property deeds, claiming, for instance, to have taken ownership of a family member’s home or a building that had long been neglected. As long as the documents were properly formatted, officials had little choice but to record the deed transfer.

When there were gaps in required information or other problems with the forms, the documents were just returned to the filing parties with instructions about how to fix the flaws. Tricking the system was so easy that people like Mr. Chappelle, 51, who had been arrested on an attempted murder charge in 2003, and convicted of assault a year later, and Ms. Amos apparently were confident enough to announce themselves to city agencies.

What's the real plan for the Klein Farm?

From the Queens Chronicle:

Area civic leaders remain concerned about the future of the Klein farm property in Fresh Meadows following its recent sale to a convicted felon who illegally tore down trees on the protected site.

Ziming Shen of Manhattan, who runs a preschool on the historic Klein property at 194-15 73 Ave., remains under house arrest for stealing funds designated for poor children’s lunches from his chain of Red Apple preschools.

Although Shen was hauled into court in May for not meeting his obligation of paying the $5.2 million judgment against him, he bought the Klein property a month later for $5.6 million and got a $1.45 million mortgage, according to the city’s Department of Finance records.

Shen had been renting the property under a six-year lease for the preschool from another convicted felon, Thomas Huang, who bought it in 2003 for $4.3 million as part of his now-defunct Audrey Realty.

Huang had wanted to build 22 two-family houses or 18 dwellings, but both plans failed since the site is located in a special planned community preservation district.

Last year, Shen illegally destroyed several mature trees on the property and illegally constructed a driveway. He was fined $1,600. Since then, the trees have not been replaced and the front yard on the 2.5-acre site has been neglected.

Preschool classes are now held in an adjacent house on the property. In the past, the large brick farmhouse was used for the school.

Area civic activists, who for years have wanted the property converted to public use as a farm museum or similar institution, are puzzled by the recent high-priced purchase since Shen will be unable to develop the property.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

5 Pointz being demo'ed

From CBS 2s:

The 5Pointz building in Long Island City, Queens – once a haven for graffiti artists – was under demolition Friday.

Heavy trucks began demolition of the building at 45-46 Davis St. in Queens Friday. The building is being torn down to make way for luxury apartments.

The demolition will take three to four months to complete.

Resorts World fixing up playground

From The Forum:

Roger Gendron of the New Hamilton Beach Civic Association could barely contain his excitement when announcing the news at last Thursday’s summer meeting. After years of waiting, his community was finally going to see change at its old, decrepit playground by September and nearby Resorts World agreed to pick up the tab.

"This is really going to go a long way to help this community,” he said. “It’s not just damage from [Hurricane] Sandy. It’s the graffiti that’s out there, too. It’s an eyesore.”

Since Superstorm Sandy swept through the northeast in 2012, the playground at the end of Hamilton Beach has sat in disrepair and disarray. Chipped paint, graffiti, and overturned flooring were only the beginning of the laundry list of things desperately waiting for a fresh start.

And despite the community’s best efforts to get its hands on funding to fix the area, bureaucratic battles between the National Parks Service and city agencies kept the Hamilton Beach playground renovations in flux.

But that all changed when Michelle Stoddart, public relations director for Resorts World Casino, delivered a mockup of the new $40,000 playground to Hamilton Beach residents at last week’s civic meeting showcasing fresh fire engine red slides and a blue and yellow exterior.

“A lot of our staff live in this community and are from this community. We thought it would be a good idea to help,” she said. “This is something we are very excited to get involved with and look forward to seeing it finished.”

Stoddart said Resorts World would be teaming up with Pavers and Road Builders Local 1010 as well as the National Parks Service to reconstruct the playground. The entire deal, she said, was also made possible because of borough elected officials helping grease the wheels.

Pomonok a sad sight lately

From the Queens Chronicle:

Flushing’s Pomonok Housing was once considered the crown jewel of the NYC Housing Authority, but some tarnish has accrued over decades of neglect, mismanagement and budget cuts, according to tenants.

Monica Corbett, president of the Pomonok Residents Association, guided elected officials through the development last Thursday to show them the unkempt grounds, flooded parking lot, broken doors and overall lack of maintenance.

Corbett said the development was once a nice place to come home to, but at this point NYCHA is demanding more money from residents for very few services. She called on the agency to work with the residents to make Pomonok a better place to live.

State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing), Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz (D-Flushing) and City Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) observed the conditions and spoke about the root causes and the need for NYCHA to address the issues.

“This is an ongoing problem,” Stavisky said. “The Dumpsters are overflowing; there’s debris on the street; we have a little lake over there in the parking lot. I’m sorry for the person whose car is partially underwater, but this shows the lack of personnel here at Pomonok to take care of these situations.”

The submerged parking space in “Lake Pomonok” costs the tenant approximately $600 for the year.

Stavisky said there are only 12 caretakers for the entire complex, down from 45 about 10 years ago. NYCHA says there are 25. There used to be seasonal summer and winter workers, but they’re gone.
Pomonok consists of 52 acres with 14 buildings and 2,171 apartments.

Seeking road relief in College Point

From the Queens Chronicle:

The streets around the College Point Corporate Park are heavily used and, according to one elected official, have been neglected for years.

State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) is calling for all governmental agencies involved to make repairs before the Police Academy opens next year. Last year, the NYPD put a temporary car tow pound in the corporate park that is expected to be there for years and adds to congestion.

At a press conference last week, Avella said that instead of making repairs to the Ulmer Street and 28th Avenue location, where issues include a partial street collapse, the city has installed a speed bump sign.

“Going over this bump, which is really a street collapse, the majority of motorists bottom out and damage their vehicles,” he said. “And this is the case for most of the roads in the area.”
Avella is asking for a meeting with the Economic Development Corp. and the city and state DOT to try to solve the problem.

Pre-K in jeopardy

From Crains:

A dozen facilities providing services in the city's new universal prekindergarten program won't open on time if they don't fix serious health and safety violations.

City officials say Friday they'll temporarily enroll children in other pre-K schools if the offending centers can't pass inspections by Sept. 4's opening day.

Violations requiring immediate action include expired fire extinguisher inspections, improperly stored food and blocked exits. Individual Pre-K employees won't be allowed to work if their background checks are out of date.

Health Commissioner Mary Bassett says the city is working aggressively to make sure the more than 1,110 pre-K centers are safe before children are allowed in.

She says 21 facilities were able to remedy their serious violations in the last month and are now set to open on time.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

No residency requirement for shelter placement

From the Times Ledger:

“Imagine trying to explain what was happening to an 8-year-old child,” resident Shakema Brown said after collecting backpacks for her kids.

The 28-year-old mother of three, including a 3-month-old, moved in with some family after her house in Pennsylvania burned down.

“We moved into the Farragut Houses in Brooklyn, but soon after they [her family] got evicted and we ended up here at the Pan Am,” she said.

Brown added that she and her children were among the first to move into the facility June 6.

Sheila Jones nodded in agreement.

“I’m a grandmother caught in a situation who’s trying to get back on my feet. We all have a story about why we’re displaced,” she said.

Jones moved back to Queens, where she was born and raised, after losing her home in Georgia. She said she was surprised when she heard the tone of the protesters.



Shouldn't there be a residency requirement for getting a $4,000/mo subsidy?


Bees invade Jackson Heights condo

From NBC:

Residents at one Queens condominium are likely to be abuzz for quite awhile after tens of thousands of bees were discovered in the building's ceiling.

The manager of the Jackson Heights condo said that beekeepers came to remove a massive beehive from the building’s ceiling Thursday after the discovery was made.

It was estimated that about 40,000 bees and 17 honeycombs were removed from the building.

The beekeepers used thermal imaging to find where each of the honeycombs were, then removed each one and vacuumed the insects into containers. The bees were then all taken to a bee farm.

No more anonymous attack ads

From the Epoch Times:

During the 2013 City Council elections, there was more money spent on independent mailers than all of the candidates’ expenditures combined. A glaring loophole in the campaign finance law led to negative ads that were at times attacks on candidates' personal lives, backgrounds, or beliefs, councilmembers said Wednesday before a committee hearing on legislation to ban these ads.

“We want candidates to own up to what they’re saying,” said councilmember Dan Garodnick, who is introducing a bill that will require every ad or communication paid for or authorized by a candidate to disclose that information.

Councilmember Brad Lander is introducing another bill that will require all independent ads and communications relating to local elections to make clear it is funded by an outside group, and include the name of the organization’s owner, CEO, and top three donors. While many of the ads were hostile, the only information voters had about where the information was coming from was the vague and positive sounding organization names, Lander said.

We may soon have a gun offender registry

From LIC Post:

Individuals busted for gun offenses will most likely be listed on a public registry- much like sex offenders.

The city council is introducing a bill tomorrow–co-sponsored by Costa Constantinides–that aims to combat gun violence by mandating that all gun offenders are listed on an online registry, which the public can search. Individuals can sign up for free notifications, so they can be warned whenever a new offender moves into their neighborhood.

The bill, if it were to become law, would operate citywide. However, the city council is looking to pass a resolution that would ask the state to pass a bill that would put this registry into effect statewide.

More litigation possible if people don't get hired

From Crains:

A City Council bill barring employers from asking job candidates if they have ever been convicted of a crime is meant to help felons re-enter society.

But the fine print of the initiative could lead to lawsuits against employers, according to one legal expert.

The bill, which is likely to become law in some form, would prohibit the commonly used "check boxes" on job applications that ask about past convictions. It also would forbid employers from asking questions about an applicant's criminal history until a conditional job offer has been tendered.

A number of states have similar laws. But Mark Goldstein, a labor and employment attorney at Reed Smith LLP, says New York City’s would go further, as it would cover businesses with as few as four employees—placing new burdens on small employers. By contrast, New Jersey's recently passed law applies to businesses with 15 or more workers.

The bigger concern is lawsuits from job seekers. To be able to reject an applicant because of a past conviction, employers would have to go through a rigorous process that, if not followed, would result in the presumption that a business owner engaged in unlawful discrimination, Mr. Goldstein said.

“I think you’d see some increases in litigation, and this is not exactly a well-settled area of law,” he said.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Pickaxe waved at protest

From the Queens Tribune:

Weeks of dispute over hiring at a new Long Island City hotel have culminated in a tense back and forth between hotel managers and the community.

Queensbridge residents and members of nonprofit Urban Upbound gathered outside the soon to open Mayflower International Hotel last Friday morning to protest alleged unfair hiring practices there. The press conference followed an episode in which Urban Upbound CEO and senior pastor at Center of Hope International Bishop Mitchell Taylor was recorded on hotel cameras shoving an employee who confronted him at the door.

Taylor and a handful of employees then exited the hotel pushing and shoving, with Taylor briefly grabbing a pickaxe and waving it upside down at the workers.

Taylor issued an apology for the violence at Friday’s rally.

“I apologize for that kind of aggression and [that] incident, but I don’t apologize for standing up for my community,” Taylor said.

A number of other speakers issued their support for Taylor regarding the altercation, including Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan (D-Sunnyside), who said, “I have no issues with what happened yesterday.”

Pan Am shelter a $4,000/mo hellhole

From the Queens Chronicle:

Located at 79-00 Queens Blvd., the building is now home to nearly 200 families, some of whom attended the rally, which drew a much smaller crowd than the prior events. They shared several concerns.

One resident, Christine Napolitano, said, “I’m grateful that I have a roof over my head,” but she complained that the four members of her family, including her three children, aged 16, 11 and 5, have to live in a single room.

“We’re on top of each other on a constant basis,” she said. “My kids want to kill each other. We’re not animals. We’re people who really need help. Things have to change.”

The city pays nearly $4000 a month to house Napolitano’s family, she said. And the space doesn’t even include cooking facilities.

“There is no place to eat here. It’s not allowed,” she said. “The food you wouldn’t give to your dog.”

And, once the new school year begins, she said it will be difficult for her children to continue attending the same specialized schools in the Bronx to which they are accustomed.

“They’re comfortable in those schools,” she said. She would like to be able to return with her family to the Bronx, but said, “Any changes have to be approved by the higher-ups.”

Another resident, Sheila Carroll, who has two preteen children, was similarly grateful but also expressed concerns. “I thank God for the shelter,” she said. “But I’m trying to transition back to life. Every day I’m pounding the pavement looking for affordable housing. We should have affordable housing in every section of the city. I’m tired of getting rejected.”

Carmen Rosario, who also lives in the shelter, said, “I’m here to fight. I’ve been fighting since I got here.” As the mother of a newborn and a toddler, she is disturbed over the sleeping accommodations they were provided.

“The toddler has to sleep in an infant crib,” she said. She also said the elder child got sick from the food and has a hard time keeping food down now. “Everything is liquid, liquid, liquid,” she said. “My kids need nutrition. They’re not getting the nutrition they need.”

Why does Danny Dromm support this? Why does Melissa Mark-Viverito support this? Why does Bill DeBlasio support this?