Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Maspeth shelter owner has admitted history of bribery

From the Daily News:

The way developer Harshad Patel recalls it, Brooklyn Sen. Carl Kruger offered to help him get a zoning change to turn his Sheepshead Bay hot-sheet hotel into apartments.

But it would cost him.

Patel, 58, told the Daily News that Kruger instructed him to write checks to Olympian Strategic Development, a company controlled by Kruger's "intimate associate," Michael Turano.

Each month for nine months in 2007, Patel said, he paid Olympian $3,000, hoping Kruger could win approval to transform his Golden Gate Motor Inn into four apartment buildings.

In the end, he said, nothing came of the zoning change, despite Kruger's involvement, and he sold the hotel.

"I wasted a lot of time and money on that," he said.

Patel is part of a growing parade of locals the FBI believes bribed Kruger to win his political largesse, newly released court papers show.

And the city is doing business with this individual because?

As constituents protest, electeds hold secret meeting with Maspeth shelter operator

This gets more and more interesting. Apparently as protesters continued their nightly vigil outside the hotel, one night before the public meeting about the shelter, Maspeth's electeds and members of CB5 decided to hold a secret meeting at O'Neill's Restaurant (no one would ever see them there) with Acacia Network in order to discuss the security plan for the shelter they are supposedly fighting. We're still 30 days away from the opening of the shelter and these people have already thrown in the towel by meeting to discuss the security plan.

The only problem is that when you have a secret meeting in a place half the town visits regularly, you are bound to get caught. That's exactly what happened. The police notified the electeds that the protesters were storming up to the restaurant and they ran away just before they got up there.

Stupid is as stupid does.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Asians now are in favor of illegal conversion bill

From Brooklyn Daily:

An Asian advocacy group that criticized a bill to prevent so-called “illegal home conversions” as racist has reversed its position and is the first Asian group to publicly support the measure. In July, Members of the Asian Community United Society said the proposal to boost fines for dicing one- and two-family homes into multifamily apartments unfairly targeted the Chinese who live in such buildings. But now the group’s director says the bill will actually protect Asian immigrants from predatory landlords.

“Initially I was under the impression that Chinese homeowners were being targeted, and we were worried about their safety,” said Warren Chan, the executive director of the society. “We need to come together because these developers are taking advantage of our community.”

The bill, introduced in June, would impose greater fines on landlords who incorrectly subdivide homes and would also let the city put liens on properties when landlords fail to pay the penalties. In its early stages, the bill created a fund for residents displaced when the city vacates illegal buildings, but lawmakers scrapped the provision, because Council does not have the power to designate such a fund.

Chan and others previously argued that the legislation would put immigrant families on the street as the city empties dangerous homes. The city raided two such illegal conversions in Dyker Heights this month, leaving nearly 40 people without a home.

But Chan now says that property owners are the real bad guys, because unsanctioned construction work exposes residents to carbon monoxide poisoning, electrical fires, and building collapse. The city must adopt a two-pronged approach — pass the bill and increase the stock of affordable housing so new immigrants have options — he said.

Jamaica transportation hub getting an upgrade

From the Daily News:

A major transit hub in Jamaica, Queens, is getting nearly $8 million in state money for upgrades that’ll make it easier to catch a ride, State Sen. James Sanders will announce Tuesday.

The money for the Jamaica Transportation Center Station Plaza — one of the city’s busiest transit stations where commuters can catch a Long Island Rail Road, the E, J and Z trains and a host of bus routes — is intended to give more space to pedestrians at the bustling transit and retail center, said Sanders, who got money for the station improvements as part of a transportation funding plan hashed out with his fellow state lawmakers.

Pool party needs to be shut down

"I've been trying for five years to shut this down. All summer long there are strangers in and out of the backyard, cars parked all over the street, children's birthday parties, no lifeguard, no CPR equipment and no bathroom access! I've had children urinating on my fence!! Any ideas on how to stop this?

Here's a recent ad:

I've contacted DOH, DOB, CB8, etc. just sent to Avella's office today as he seems to be the only one who gets anything done in Queens." - anonymous

Monday, August 29, 2016

Like a turd that won't stay flushed...

"Saw this today. He's Baaaaaack.........

Love your blog/site."


Glendale yeshiva tries for BSA variance

From the Queens Tribune:

After clearing their violations with the City Department of Buildings, the Yeshiva Gedolah at 74-10 88th St. in Glendale is once again seeking variance to expand its dormitory quarters to accommodate 1,050 students with an additional 50,000 square feet of space.

At a land use hearing at Borough hall last Thursday, attorney for the yeshiva Jay Goldstein said that the goal is to keep more students on site so they can take advantage of early morning classes and decrease busing to and from the site, which is a major complaint in the neighborhood.

Goldstein noted that the current dorm only allows for 282 students to stay on site. He added that with rising rent costs, parents of the students who have in the past lived in Queens and Brooklyn have now moved upstate. “That number will increase,” said Goldstein.

He said if they do not receive this variance, the school will continue to operate as a Use Group 9 trade school and find facilities for the dorm elsewhere.

The school does not have a C of O for dorms and was vacated last year for that reason. They also still have active building violations. How about building a yeshiva upstate where these kids live instead of in the middle of Glendale where they require busing?

Peralta wants Roosevelt Ave cleaned up

From the Daily News:

Sen. Jose Peralta (D-Queens) wants to clean up a stretch of 20 blocks along Roosevelt Ave. that bring in a “bad element” at night.

“It’s a vibrant place in the day ... but at night all kinds of illegal activity occurs, prostitution, human trafficking and more,” he said.

Peralta, who represents the area, wants the city to increase its enforcement of existing quality of life laws and up the fines for certain violations from $1,000 to $10,000.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

2,000 protesters shut Maspeth streets down

Photo by Robert Holden
I was wondering when a community in Queens was going to tell de Blasio to shove it and from the photos and videos coming in, it appears that day was yesterday. Roughly 2000 people poured into the streets of Maspeth to protest BDB's planned dumping of a homeless shelter for "high risk" adult couples on the town.

The protesters assembled at the Holiday Inn Express near Maurice Avenue and marched through the streets of Maspeth, led by civic leaders and State Senator Tony Avella. Several candidates for election, including Democratic Assembly candidate Brian Barnwell, Republican Assembly candidate Tony Nunziato and State Senate candidate Michael Conigliaro participated. In fact, the Queens County GOP sent several reps to march with their banner, but not one cog of the Democratic Queens Machine bothered to show up.

The marchers left the hotel area and entered the heart of Maspeth, heading east on Grand Avenue and shutting it down. After marching through almost the entire length of town, they doubled back and marched up 69th Street, stopping to jeer Marge Markey at both her office and her home. They then walked down to Maurice Park and over the pedestrian bridge back to the hotel.

Yesterday was quite hot but thanks to water donated by Rosa's Pizza and O'Neill's Restaurant, nearly everyone who participated made the full 5 mile round trip.

Although the tweeders, through their lackeys in the media, like to portray Maspeth residents (or anyone opposed to a homeless shelter) as "racist", there were a number of non-white people either marching or cheering the protesters on from their homes. People of all races don't want their quality of life destroyed, their families living in fear, or their property investments threatened by the presence of a facility that even the city admits will cause major problems in the community. And that's what Lincoln Restler, Bill de Blasio and the rest of the tweeders need to understand before they get swept out of office by an electoral tsunami.

However, with responses like THIS, it doesn't appear that Liz Crowley is getting the message:
A light rain was falling as Community Board member Jerry Drake addressed about 200 protesters on Thursday night, August 25th in front of the Holiday Inn Express near Maurice Avenue and the L.I.E in Maspeth. Drake was the last speaker of the night and reported on a meeting he had earlier that day with Council Member Elizabeth Crowley in her Glendale office.

Drake told the crowd that he had asked Crowley if she would attend the giant protest march scheduled for Saturday, August 27th through the Maspeth community to protest the de Blasio Administration's decision to convert Holiday Inn Express into a homeless shelter for 220 adults. Crowley told Drake that she would not attend the march. The news however did not surprise the crowd since Crowley had not attended any of the 9 daily protests that regularly draw between 200-300 protesters. A frustrated Jerry Drake asked Crowley why she decided not attend the protests or the scheduled march to support her Maspeth constituents in a show of unity against Mayor de Blasio. "I didn't like the way I was treated at the Martin Luther School homeless meeting (on Aug. 3rd)," said Crowley. Drake reported that he asked Crowley what he should report back to the protesters. "Tell them whatever you want," she replied.

Crowley then told Drake that the Maspeth shelter was going to happen because the Mayor wants to place homeless shelters in Queens and particularly in the Community Board 5 area that has no shelters. When Drake reminded Crowley that she is up for reelection next year she responded, "I'll cross that bridge when the time comes." Crowley's response angered the protesters with many chanting ‒ "Vote her out!"

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Well this should be interesting

Katz FOILed again!

From the Queens Chronicle:

A Whitestone resident and media producer is suing the Office of the Queens Borough President and the borough president herself, Melinda Katz, alleging repeated violations of the state’s Freedom of Information Law for failing to respond to his requests for information concerning records related to the Willets Point neighborhood.

Robert LoScalzo, who says he has been working on an independent documentary about the Willets Point area since 2007, says he requested records concerning meetings held by Katz on Jan. 29 and March 3 of this year to discuss the deteriorated streets in the area, a possible city Department of Transportation contract to repave the streets for $9.1 million, waste-hauling tractor-trailers that park in the neighborhood and the status of its redevelopment.

LoScalzo says he made his initial FOIL request on May 12 and an appeal on June 4, and didn’t receive a reply to either one.

State law requires one within five business days, and a lack of response is tantamount to a denial, according to the state Committee on Open Government, which monitors compliance with the FOIL and Open Meetings Law. The only recourse available is to sue an agency.

A copy of the lawsuit says it was filed on Aug. 12 in state Supreme Court in Queens.

Katz’s office said it has not been served with any suit and wouldn't comment on pending litigation if it had, but that it has responded to the FOIL request. The office did not respond to a question about when the response was sent, and as of press time, LoScalzo said he hadn’t received a response.

In a sharply worded press release, LoScalzo accused Katz of hypocrisy and duplicity with the public.

“Just before this past Fourth of July weekend, Melinda Katz sent an email to her list, quoting loftily from the Declaration of Independence and imploring everyone to read America’s founding documents and get acquainted with our hard-won rights,” the release said in part.

“Ironically, when those of us who know our rights attempt to exercise them at Borough President Katz’s office by requesting public records, those rights are denied.”

Untidy tree pit tripping hazards

Hi Crapper,

On my way home from the Met game Friday night waiting to board the Q16 bus I could not help but notice some serious sidewalk trip hazards.You can see in my attached pictures how dangerous the sidewalk is. There are a total of six empty tree pits in the middle of 39th Ave between Union street and 138th street. Most are filled with litter including broken glass and cans along with commercial garbage from the local establishments. It just angers me why some home owners in Queens are being nickel & dimed with fines over minute sidewalk and curb conditions while these serious trip hazards are allowed in the middle of a busy transportation hub.

Thanks... The Queens Sentry

New anti-corruption law doesn't go very far

From NY1:

In the final hours of the legislative session in June, lawmakers passed what they called "ethics reform." But some believe it's more notable for what wasn't included.

"The ethics bill is a major step forward," said Governor Andrew Cuomo. "Is it everything? No. Ethics, in many ways, is like other activities in life. It's an ongoing pursuit."

But critics say the legislation does little to pursue actual corruption. In the last year and a half, the leaders of both legislative houses were tried and convicted on federal corruption charges.

"The legislature and the governor missed a huge opportunity in responding to the outcry," said Dick Dadey of Citizens Union. "Ninety percent of New Yorkers wanted action on ethics reform that basically dealt with preventing corruption, and they did nothing."

"Certainly, Albany had a bad year in terms of trust. You have members of the legislature who were indicted, went to jail. So, they needed an ethics reform," Cuomo said.

The ethics reform requires more stringent separation between campaigns and independent expenditure groups that advocate for specific causes. It also appears to target nonprofit and good-government groups by forcing them disclose their donors.

Coyotes living at Astoria Mountain

From PIX11:

A group of coyotes was spotted lurking around a temporary employee parking lot set up because of construction at LaGuardia Airport Thursday.

A PIX11 reporter spotted the animals in the roadway of the parking lot near 45th Street and Berrian Boulevard in Astoria.

Employees dodge the critters every night.

“As you’re coming through they’re waiting for you to say good night,” said one airport employee.

The Port Authority built the parking lot in 2015 atop Ingraham’s Mountain, a man-made “mountain” built excavated materials from construction of the third tube of the Lincoln Tunnel, according to documents obtained by PIX11 News. It’s situated about 0.2 miles west of the airport and bounded by the Rikers Island Bridge.

Friday, August 26, 2016

A break from building

From Crains:

The demise of the controversial 421-a tax break hasn’t eliminated interest in residential building in the city, but it has reduced it to a level not seen since the financial crisis.

That’s the bottom line on this week’s release of the latest building-permits data by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Here are the numbers through July.

LaGuardia traffic nightmare

From PIX11:

A massive construction project at LaGuardia Airport is creating massive traffic tie ups.

A $5.3 billion project to overhaul a terminal at the airport has travelers bailing from their cabs, luggage in hand, to walk to the airport.

"It was horrendous," said livery cab driver Cecil Craffy. "It’s the worst I’ve ever seen anywhere in the city. It took me an hour plus from the Grand Central to the corner and the customer had to come out of the car to walk to reach there."

The Port Authority's new temporary road ways, which are on the way this fall, will alleviate the worst of the traffic problems. But in the meantime, trips to the airport are taking a lot of time.

The scaffolding that won't come down

From NBC:

Scaffolding covers buildings, protects sidewalks -- and it's often an eyesore. In some cases, they have a serious effect on nearby businesses. Andrew Siff reports.

From NBC:

Some 'zombie scaffolding' are staying up around buildings across the city for nearly a decade, creating eyesores for neighbors. As Andrew Siff reports, many landlords do it for cost-effective purposes. Watch Part 1 of the zombie scaffolding report here.

Fun Friday Caption Contest

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Queens targeted with homeless shelters thanks to Joe Crowley deal

With each passing day, this is becoming more clear. Someone I know from Borough Hall broke this down for me yesterday:

Congress Member Joe Crowley is the head of the Queens Machine. A political kingmaker. He endorsed Christine Quinn when she ran for mayor against de Blasio in the primary. De Blasio was very unhappy with that, as Queens was the only borough that did not back him. Queens therefore is going to relentlessly be dumped on, including the placement of 10+ homeless shelters in 2 years.

It all makes sense once you connect the dots.

Now, where the hell is Queens Borough President Melinda Katz while the borough she represents is getting dumped on? Painting the NYS Pavilion?

Queens preservation's situation summed up in one photo

And there we have it.

Photo by George the Atheist

Interesting old Woodside house to make way for crap

Sunnyside Post
From Sunnyside Post:

Plans were filed with the Dept. of Buildings Tuesday for a six-story mixed use building at 54-21 Roosevelt Avenue. The structure will consist of ground floor retail, second floor health care facilities and four stories of apartments. The development would include seven dwelling units.

Demolition permits were filed in March.

The owner of the building, Al Zhu Lu, did not want to comment for this story.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Why Queens is being inundated with shelters

Hey all, this info came to me late last night. As you can see from the City's own chart above, Acacia Network, the "social service" organization that is responsible for the poorly run Verve Hotel in LIC and which is planning to open a shelter at the Holiday Inn Express in Maspeth, has so many problems and violations at its other shelters that the city is closing them down. "C" means closed and "P" means pending closure. So where to put all the homeless that Manhattan, Staten Island, Brooklyn and the Bronx are responsible for? Why QUEENS, of course! That's the fair thing to do after all. Burden overtaxed working and middle class homeowners so that a charity with a long history of coming up short for both the city and its clients can continue to enrich themselves.

There is no huge increase in numbers of homeless, just fewer sites to place them. You'll notice the line highlighted in green is about an adult couples shelter that has 39 rooms. The city is claiming that if the Maspeth community can come up with an alternate site containing 35 rooms, then the Holiday Inn site will be tabled. Is this why? They need to replace a closed Manhattan shelter for adult couples?

An industrious fellow on the Maspeth 11378 Facebook page also did some digging and came up with a lot of information about this so called "charity" known as Acacia Network.
I suppose the Queens papers could have uncovered this, if they weren't so busy defending Liz Crowley and Marge Markey.

And the response from City Hall?

Jimmy unhappy with homeless shelter in his district

From Sunnyside Post:

The Quality Inn, located at 53-05 Queens Boulevard, is being used as a temporary homeless shelter. In the past two months, families have arrived without the DHS informing elected officials, Community Board 2 or the public at large.

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said he was never formally notified of the administration’s decision to move homeless families into the hotel. It was only when he heard from a constituent that he uncovered that it was being used as a temporary shelter for the homeless.

“The administration’s handling of this has been outrageous and has been botched from the start,” Van Bramer said. “I have been livid with the administration in the way the have tried to sneak this in. It is not the way the these things should be done.”

He said the de Blasio administration didn’t tell anyone that the temporary shelter was in operation. He said that de Blasio is ultimately responsible for this.

“Whether he is making the call or not, the buck stops with the mayor and that is what the big job means,” Van Bramer said.

Van Bramer said he has no plans to protest outside the Quality Inn. “There are young mothers and children who are going through tough times. We do have to show empathy.”

Well then prepare for more, Jimbo!

$100M needed for huge streetcar depots

From Crains:

Missing from maps of a proposed streetcar route along the Brooklyn-Queens waterfront is where the de Blasio administration would locate the transit line's maintenance yard, which would likely be one or more facilities totaling several acres. The yard or yards would be needed to store and service the 47-car fleet.

The Brooklyn Queens Connector is a 16-mile streetcar line that would run from Astoria, Queens, to Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Currently, the de Blasio administration is conducting a wide-ranging study that will include recommendations on the streetcar's ideal route, along with how large the maintenance yard or yards would be and where they could be located.

Here in New York, Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector, a nonprofit that has promoted plans for a streetcar that were eventually adopted by the de Blasio administration, has suggested building two maintenance facilities at a total cost of $100 million. The group believes the yard or yards would require less than five acres.

Protest at former 5 Pointz site

From the Observer:

Building and Construction Trades Council President Gary LaBarbera and Queens Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, along with several hundred union workers, blasted a developer—whom LaBarbera called a “piece of shit”—who they say broke a promise to use union workers at its Long Island City construction site.

According to Van Bramer, Jerry Wolkoff, co-owner of G&M Realty agreed to several community givebacks during the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure process, including a commitment to build and staff the site, the 5Pointz warehouse at 45-46 Davis St. with 100 percent union labor. In exchange the city granted G&M the ability to build 400 additional units—but Van Bramer says Wolkoff has since backtracked on the agreement.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

De Blasio press release indicates shelter shuffle is a huge scam

The de Blasio administration has announced the imminent opening of 4 new shelters this month in Maspeth, Woodside, Bed-Stuy and Ozone Park.

Yet on August 10th, he announced the following:

So do we need to "plan capacity" or should we pat de Bozo on his head for his deft handling of the homeless crisis?

Select bus machines are without power

From DNA Info:

Fare payment machines at a Jamaica stop for the Q44 Select Bus have had no power for the past two months, frustrating straphangers who have since had to pay for their ride at the next stop, commuters said.

The machines at the Archer Avenue/153rd Street stop, in front of the Queens County Family Court, went offline on June 19, according to the MTA.

Straphangers using Select Bus Service lines have to insert their MetroCards into machines, which then issue their receipts to allow them to board at any door in order to avoid long lines at the front of the bus.

But passengers who get on the bus at the courthouse, have to get off at the next stop on Archer Avenue and Sutphin Boulevard and pay for their ride there, which can take a couple of minutes depending on the number of passengers, straphangers said.

It was not clear when the machines will be fixed.

Avoid being a burglary victim

From NBC:

In an unprecedented crime prevention project, the I-Team sent surveys to more than 500 people serving time for burglary or for breaking and entering in New York and New Jersey prisons. The survey included questions about how they picked their targets, broke into homes, and how potential victims could stop them. Fifty-seven convicts responded.

Toby has some interesting campaign donors

From the Observer:

Queens State Senator Toby Stavisky—the ranking member of the Committee on Higher Education—has raked in tens of thousands of dollars in donations from for-profit colleges, one of tied to a bribery scandal that took down an assemblyman from her home borough in 2009.

Stavisky has taken more than $23,000 in contributions from Forest Hills’ Plaza College, its owners and its affiliates since 2002—$18,500 of it since federal agents arrested the late Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio on corruption charges related to the school in 2008. One of the affiliates that gave to Stavisky, Collegiate Management Associates—which U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara labeled a “shell company”—served as a conduit for Plaza College provost Charles Callahan III to funnel $170,350 in bribes to Seminerio in exchange for legislation favorable to the for-profit institution.

Bharara’s criminal complaint against Seminerio also alleged the assemblyman unsuccessfully sought to get Callahan III appointed to the state Board of Regents, which controls New York’s public schools, and assisted him in navigating various agencies.

Collegiate Management Associates gave Stavisky $1,000 in August 2014. She took another grand from the college itself that October, $1,000 again in 2015, and reported taking the same amount from the school in her filings last month.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Part of secret Maspeth shelter meeting caught on video

Well, well, well. We finally have a look inside the "secret" meeting that was held August 3rd at the Maspeth Library to "inform" elected officials about the conversion of the local Holiday Inn Express into a 110-room homeless shelter for adult couples without children.

In this video you will note:

  • The first person heard speaking is Vincent Arcuri, Chairman of Queens CB5. He mentions that the next CB5 meeting is not until September 14th and they need more time to inform the public and study the issue. The city knew this and planned this entire thing for when CB5 was in recess and most board members are on vacation. It's an old trick.

  • Marge Markey and Joe Addabbo stay silent (Addabbo actually left the room).

  • Lincoln Restler and cohort stating that they have to "plan capacity" (because there is no immediate need but they will be producing more homeless to enrich de Blasio's friends in the homeless warehousing industry). Arcuri points out that they are not "planning capacity" if they are moving people in the day it converts.

  • Note that Lincoln Restler planned a meeting at a library knowing full well that there was a children's program scheduled and that they would have to cut it short.

  • "This was intended to be a briefing for the elected officials" so he brought them a dozen donuts from Greenpoint. Why not hold it at the CB office one of the electeds' offices?

  • Liz Crowley saying "as the council member that represents both Glendale and Maspeth, I feel that you are pitting one part of my district against another and I think that's unfair" - indicating that she is fully aware that a swap is being made.

  • No one at the table questioning why 35 rooms would be an acceptable alternative to a 110-unit shelter. Instead they are going to idiotically knock themselves out looking for sites they can mention as alternatives so that the district will end up with an influx of 290 homeless people instead of 220.

  • Liz Crowley demanding that no 60-day clock start and instead of answering her, the city reps get up and walk out.

  • Someone yells out "So is the clock ticking?" and there's no answer.

Friends in Maspeth, with this type of representation, you are royally screwed.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Strange parking regs at Steinway Mansion

Hello Crapper:

Here's a brand new sign found by the "Steinway Park" warehouses on 42nd Street. Any idea what's going on? I have no idea. The warehouse facades are complete. The sidewalk is open to pedestrians. The work now occurring there is the finishing up of the interiors. The exteriors plus sidewalks are now complete.

At the front,

PS The arrow on the sign points leftward but there is no signage further south along 42nd street to indicate where the "no parking" ends.

Attempt to gentrify a beach and a Federal park!film-festival/ul2yr

(Note the following: Presented by Bloomberg and in collaboration with Central Park Conservancy & National Park Service. The Central Park Conservancy? Why?)

Now I wrote last year about those idiots (the Brooklyn Night Bazaar and Gothamist) that are running a booze and music festival at my favorite beach Riis Park and my opinion that it's an attempt at gentrifying a beach (fortunately it hasn't worked), but they might have figured out how to do it. They are doing one of those bullshit outdoor movie nights and I provided the links above.

This is going to get very, very ugly. These big spenders don't have enough space and amenities where they are from, they got to turn the "people's beach" into the Hamptons.

Enjoy your afternoon,

Follow up:

I could only take a few pics but I assure you, there was NOBODY setting up on the sand to watch this, and the concession area had barely a crowd. There were more park rangers and crew than customers and passersby. What's even more dreadful is that they had a laptop DJ do a set and no one was paying attention even when she was giving away prizes doing trivia about the movie that was on (It was West Side Story). Lame.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Elected official finally shows up to Maspeth protest

So an elected official from the other side of Queens, Tony Avella, attended the Maspeth shelter rally last night, but no electeds that actually represent the area have thus far.

In the meantime, the DHS is denying all FOIL requests for information about the contract.

Far Rockaway revamp may be in the cards

From the Daily News:

The long-neglected downtown commercial hub of Far Rockaway could become a gleaming, vibrant village under a plan that will be unveiled Friday, the Daily News has learned.

The “Downtown Far Rockaway Roadmap for Action,” part of Mayor de Blasio’s $91 million pledge to revitalize the area, envisions brighter storefronts, residential and commercial towers and an eye-pleasing streetscape.

That scenario is worlds away from the current state of Mott Ave., with its rundown stores anchored by a shopping center that has sat mostly empty for decades.

City officials said they are prepared to rezone the neighborhood and even create an urban renewal area if that’s what it takes to revive abandoned and blighted private properties.

“The Roadmap for Action will unlock the downtown’s full potential as a vibrant, mixed-use neighborhood,” said Maria Torres-Springer, president and CEO of the city’s Economic Development Corp.

I'd like to think that the city will finally do something to improve Far Rockaway, but if it involves the EDC and "upzoning" then it's probably a recipe for disaster. (See Jamaica) And they used the V word, so you know this plan has gotta be full of crap.

Assembly Member wants historic Brooklyn church saved

From the Brooklyn Eagle:

On Tuesday, state Assemblymember Latrice Walker called on Brooklyn's Catholic hierarchy to withdraw its demolition application for a historic church in the Ocean Hill section of Brownsville, Our Lady of Loreto.

At a press conference outside the shuttered century-old church at 124 Sackman St., Walker (D-Brownsville) urged Catholic officials to work with the community and turn Our Lady of Loreto into a much-needed cultural center.

Assemblymember Latrice Walker, at the microphone, calls for a halt to Our Lady of Loreto's demolition.Assemblymember Latrice Walker, at the microphone, calls for a halt to Our Lady of Loreto's demolition.

“Partner with our neighborhood,” Walker said.

“Let's invest in the people in this community as well as its infrastructure.”

Last week, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens CEO Msgr. Alfred LoPinto announced “there is no viable use for the structure” and it will be torn down “to provide housing for families in need.”

Speaker is full of herself, among other things

From the Observer:

The speaker of the New York City Council, Melissa Mark-Viverito, has an unusual strategy for solving city problems. When she came upon a broken Walk-Don’t Walk sign, she didn’t call 311 to report it. Nor did she shoot an email to the Department of Transportation’s chief to convey the importance of fixing this particular safety device—perhaps more quickly than normal. Instead, Mark-Viverito tweeted about it.

Surprisingly, a staffer at DOT saw Mark-Viverito’s tweet. But this on-top-of-it staffer almost immediately responded in kind—via Twitter—and informed the speaker that the most effective way to get fast action was to call the 311 hotline.

Mark-Viverito responded in full huff: “whaaaat???” she tweeted. “This a joke? Or an auto response? Or maybe even an intern? Not a response for an elected.”

Unfortunately, Mark-Viverito made it all about her: you don’t know who I am? Is an “elected” a new protected class? Is her sense of self-importance so out of control?

If Mark-Viverito had called 311 or emailed the DOT commissioner and not gotten results, a tweet would certainly have been appropriate. But we’d like to suggest to Mark-Viverito that a public servant—yes, that is the more appropriate word for an “elected”—is here to serve, not to huff or berate. And that includes disparaging interns.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Interesting signs pop up at Maspeth shelter protest

Will any elected official ever show up? Maybe someone from outside the district?

Empty hotel sitting in Kew Gardens

From DNA Info:

A controversial 20-story hotel in Kew Gardens that was completed months ago but never opened is now up for lease, according to a broker.

Initially the tower at 123-28 82nd Ave., just off of Queens Boulevard and across the street from Queens Borough Hall, was supposed to open as The Queens Savoy Hotel and Residences by the end of last year or early this year, Steve Papas of Forge Realty, which owns the building, told DNAinfo New York last September.

But the 95,000-square-foot building featuring 84 hotel rooms, 38 apartments, a fitness center, commercial space and 44 basement valet parking spots, has been sitting empty for months.

The hotel building, which is being watched by a security guard, is now for lease, according to Heritage Realty Services, which is marketing the property.

“The entire building is for lease,” said Mary Anderson-Gallagher, managing director at Heritage, adding that said she was not aware of what happened with the initial hotel deal.

Anderson-Gallagher said that Forge Realty is looking for a long-term lease. There is no set price and the owners are open to negotiations, she said.

Well I think we all know what this means by now.

Astoria Park getting an upgrade

From NY1:

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the funding for the five parks on Thursday: St. Mary's Park in The Bronx, Highbridge Park in Manhattan, Betsy Head Park in Brooklyn, Astoria Park in Queens, and Freshkills Park on Staten Island.

Each will get $30 million to add and improve amenities like soccer fields, comfort stations, running tracks, and hiking trails.

City officials said the parks were chosen based on historical underinvestment, high surrounding population, and potential for development.

Okay, but Astoria Park has had millions poured into it over the years and how much more can it be developed?

Meat wagon spotted at Metro Motel

The Metro Motel - where guests check in but they don't check out.

BTW, this is also a shelter for families with children.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Day 3 of protests and still no electeds

Screenshot of NY1 website

Hundreds of Maspeth residents have been showing up every night at the Holiday Inn Express to protest against the mayor's plan to dump 220 homeless adults into their community. Noticeably absent are Elizabeth Crowley, Joe Addabbo and Marge Markey, the elected officials who represent the area. Their lack of attendance is one of the biggest topics mentioned every night. You really need to wonder what they are thinking by not showing up to support their constituents.

What infrastructure problem?

From CBS 2:

Officials said the street was undermined by the water main break, and crews would have to be called in to dig up the street and repair the main.

Late Wednesday night, crews were still working and six customers were without water.

Van Bramer wants discount Metrocards for welfare recipients

From NY1:

A new bill would help some of the poorest New York City residents pay for their MetroCards.

Queens Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer introduced legislation on Tuesday that would require the city to provide half-priced MetroCards to welfare recipients who need to travel to work in order to receive their aid.

“It seems obvious to us that if the city requires folks who are on public assistance to work in order to receive public assistance, they should be able to get a discounted ride to get to work and be eligible for public assistance in the first place,” Van Bramer said.

Van Bramer said he was not sure how many residents would be eligible for the discount, though he said it was “an investment worth making.”

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

First project under MIH rules rejected by council

From PIX11:

A request to build a bigger building in Inwood with half of the units designated as "affordable" has been unanimously rejected by the NYC Council Land Use Committee.

About 250 neighbors stood on the sidewalk Monday evening on the Upper Manhattan sidewalk in front of the old auto showroom to hear Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez's announcement about the corner of Broadway and Sherman Avenue.

Councilmember Rodriguez announced on Monday that he would not support the owner's request to rezone the property.

The final proposal to "upzone" for a bigger building with more density would have include 50% affordable units.

Under the current zoning for the property, the developer is able to construct a residential building on the site.

Councilmember Rodriguez says he decided the project was not what the neighborhood wanted and it was not in its best interests to proceed. He says he is focusing on "Inwood NYC" a bigger redevelopment project, with more units of affordable housing.

Parking lot turns into garbage dump

Stephen Melnick
From DNA Info:

A parking lot near a shuttered store in Forest Hills has turned into a "dumping ground" that neighbors said is full of electronic debris and food waste, but officials warned that cleaning the trash poses a challenge because it's private property.

Garbage started piling up at the parking lot of the now-shuttered Sports Authority, at 73-25 Woodhaven Blvd., on the border of Forest Hills, Rego Park and Glendale, after the store closed at the end of July following the chain's bankruptcy earlier this year, residents said.

The problem at the lot, located between Trader Joe’s and The Home Depot, has been escalating daily, residents said.

The city received at least two complaints about the illegal dumping near the closed Sports Authority on Aug. 10 and 13, records show, and is "in the process of investigating" the issue.

Frank Gulluscio, district manager at Community Board 6, which covers Forest Hills and Rego Park, said that the board has been working on the matter with the Department of Sanitation, but the process takes time because it’s private property and special procedures have to be followed.

“The City of New York cannot just go in there because it’s private property,” Gulluscio said. “It’s a process and it takes time.”

More needles on the streets

From the Daily News:

There's been a sharp increase in used syringes littering New York’s streets — at a time when the rate of fatal heroin overdoses is skyrocketing.

The number of complaints about loose needles lying around this year has jumped to 213 — about a 25% increase compared to the same period last year, city Department of Health records show.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Former QNS reporter is Liz Crowley's communications director

Former QNS reporter Maggie Hayes wrote quite a bit for the paper before 2015, when she became Liz Crowley's communications director. When I said someone called in a favor, I wasn't kidding.

Want more proof?
Perhaps QNS should have revealed this in their editorial about the shelter.

Augustana Lutheran Church being transformed

The Augustana Lutheran Church on Ditmars Blvd at Hazen Street got a permit for a new roof. This is what the building looks like now.
Photos by George the Atheist