Friday, September 30, 2016

Council hearing turns into shitshow

From DNA Info:

In an attempt to make up for the loss of nursing home beds at Rivington House, Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday announced plans to build an affordable senior housing and health care facility in a city-owned building under the Manhattan Bridge.

First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris dropped the news while testifying before the City Council during an oversight hearing on the administration's controversial decision to lift two deed restrictions on Rivington House nursing home for HIV/AIDS patients — a decision that allowed the home to be hawked to a luxury condo developer for $72 million. The mayor's office later made a formal announcement of the plan.

But though Shorris claimed the new facility — a building operated by the Department of Environmental Protection at 30 Pike St. — will replace the "bulk of what was lost in Rivington House," the mayor's office has only said the home will provide housing for more than 100 seniors, while Rivington held 219 beds.

From the Observer:

It was a fitting ending for a City Council hearing that was, at its heart, about failures to communicate: another miscommunication.

After two-and-a-half hours of questioning Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris about the city’s decision to lift a deed restriction on Rivington House, which paved the way for the AIDS hospice to be sold for profit to luxury condo developers, his testimony ended with the City Council accusing the mayor’s office of misleading them about Shorris’ schedule.

“The administration misled the Council and the Speakers Office into believing that First Deputy Mayor Shorris’ availability for the hearing this morning would be limited because of events related to the U.S Conference of Mayors in Oklahoma City. This turned out to be false,” Eric Koch, a spokesman for Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “At a hearing which focused on government honesty and transparency this is particularly shocking and unacceptable.”

The miscommunication today played out in “real-time,” as City Councilman Ben Kallos, the chairman of the committee on governmental operations put it, when, during the hearing, he asked Shorris why he had to leave—”for the record.”

“I have appointments scheduled,” Shorris responded.

Community opposes church on steroids

From Sunnyside Post:

Community members and church leaders clashed at a Community Board 2 public hearing Tuesday about altering zoning regulations to make way for a mega church in Woodside.

The Universal Church, located at 68-03 Roosevelt Avenue, held the public hearing in conjunction with Community Board 2 to allow residents to provide feedback on its proposed expansion, which would nearly double its height and triple its square footage.

The majority of the approximately 50 people in attendance spoke strongly against the project.

Community members expressed concerns with the size, scope, and scale of the project, as well as concerns over how it could affect traffic and transportation issues, could bring in gentrification and impact small businesses in the neighborhood, and could have negative consequences for those residing nearby.

Those in attendance also noted the Universal Church’s reputation for preaching a “prosperity gospel,” which encourages parishioners to give money to the church, combining tactics from religious sermons with self-help seminars.

The proposed church would be the East Coast headquarters for the Universal Church, an international network of churches based in Brazil with over 6,000 locations worldwide, with a dozen in New York City alone.

The zoning on the church property currently allows it to build up to 45 feet tall, and it is required to have 30 feet between its building and the property line. The requested variances would waive those requirements, allowing the church to build up to 79 feet tall and out to 10 feet from the property line.

Though not addressed at the meeting, information provided by the church indicates that if the zoning variances are denied, the church will still build a new structure that complies with current zoning laws.

Future hotel-shelters worry Jamaica residents

From the Queens Chronicle:

When you live near one of the busiest airports in the world and a train ride from downtown Manhattan, you are going to live near hotels.

But residents of Southeast Queens are becoming increasingly worried that the proliferation of smaller hotels either opened up or under construction dovetails all too well with the city’s recent penchant for locating homeless shelters and other supportive housing within Community Board 12.

Glenn Greenridge, the Land Use Committee chairman at CB 12, went down a partial list last week:
• one in the early stages of construction at the corner of 115th Avenue and Guy R. Brewer Boulevard;
• a 56-room facility beginning construction at 97-01 Waltham Street;
• another two blocks away with a proposed 42 rooms near the intersection of Waltham and 97th Avenue;
• an 85-room site under construction next to the Howard Johnson Hotel on Archer Avenue; and
• excavation underway for a hotel at 140-35 Queens Blvd., less than a block away from a building at 140-17 that looks close to completion.

“When the folks made their presentation to put a hotel in the old TWA building at Kennedy Airport, they said they’re spending $62 million of their own money. They said their research showed hotels in Queens were at capacity,” Greenridge told the Chronicle in an interview last week.

“But what happens in two or three years if the economy changes and the demand doesn’t keep up with the supply?” he asked. “We have over 10 proposed hotels in CB 12 alone. A property owner [of a smaller hotel] might decide $80 to $100 per night per room from the city sounds pretty good.”

Greenridge’s comments came two days after a meeting of CB 12 where many expressed their belief that the exploding number of hotel applications in the district coming at a time when the city is experiencing a homeless crisis is not a coincidence.

Greenridge said residents’ fears are not groundless, with the city having converted at least one hotel into a shelter in his memory, and that they have every right to be concerned.

Residents in the district already have little if any trust in Mayor de Blasio or the Department of Homeless Services when it comes to shelters.

More rats than at a council meeting

From NY1:

The sidewalk was littered with dead rats just hours after dozens of the rodents sent residents running in disgust at the Baisley Park Gardens complex on Sutphin Boulevard and 122nd Avenue.

They say the rats emerged after someone shifted a mounting pile of garbage in front of the building. That garbage was removed Thursday, but residents say the trash is an ongoing issue, as are the rats, and that management has failed to address both problems.

When NY1 reached out to the management company, Reliant Realty, the president called us back immediately. She said she wasn't aware of previous problems but maintained this current issue was addressed immediately.

Exterminators and a cleaning crew were back at the complex Thursday evening, where a manager also told residents their apartments will be addressed as well.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

St. Albans doesn't want shelters either

From PIX11:

ST. ALBANS - The Department head of Homeless Services Steven Banks and Mayor de Blasio jointly addressed a crowd filled with disgruntled residents concerned with the city's use of homeless hotels.

PIX11 has covered extensively the city's growing reliance on these hotels, lack of social services, overspending to book those rooms and absence of security.

Residents as of late have been vocalizing their worries over the hotels and on Wednesday, de Blasio heard more of the same.

"I'm terrified of these people who are going to live in these hotels," one woman said. "So I ask you Mayor de Blasio how can you help me and my community address these issues and stop the building of these hotels."

The number of hotels popping up and rezoning changes are on Blasio's list of proposals to the city council in an effort to address those concerns, according to the mayor.

"I think on the larger issue of how we plan the community [is] to make sure the scaling of things is right, etc. is something we want to do more changes to in the city council," de Blasio said.

Meanwhile, the mayor's team is actively booking hotels that are appearing all over the city in order to house the homeless.

All this as the homeless population in the city is on the verge of reaching 60,000.

(The funny thing is that the people that attend these town halls are pre-screened so as to avoid the mayor having to answer embarrassing questions. And I guess black folks value their quality of life and integrity of their communities as much as whites do.)

Living in a McMansion's shadow

"This is a photo comparing the size of a typical rebuild with the older homes in Floral Park, NY. If you've never been to Floral Park, Queens, get prepared to see a dumpster on every corner. That's the new status symbol.

Buyers buy little houses with nice-sized yards and cut down old growth trees to stuff oversized houses on the old property. The new houses overshadow the neighboring houses and have little, if any, landscaping. A lot of the times, the trees and grass at the curb are eliminated and the front lawns are paved over to make room for the multiple cars owned by the multiple families living in what used to be one family/one owner houses.

The streets are now crowded with cars and the neighborhood is hotter and noisier due to the loss of noise buffering, cooling trees and bushes in vanishing yards. Rebuilds have less frontage and there's more cement all around. What used to be suburban, is slowly becoming more urban." - anonymous

Supervised shoot-up program being studied

From the Daily News:

The city will study whether to set up sites for drug addicts to shoot up safely with $100,000 approved by the City Council Wednesday.

The controversial program known as supervised injection facilities gives addicts a place to use drugs under medical supervision to avoid overdoses or spreading HIV and other diseases.

The study, which will be done by the Health Department, “will assess the feasibility and impact of NYC having a program that provides a safe, clean haven to high-risk, vulnerable New Yorkers and will help prevent drug overdoses and disease transmissions,” said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

The money comes from $5.6 million approved to fight AIDS in the current city budget.

I can't wait for the siting hearings for this bright idea!

Rego Park bioswale serves as butterfly habitat

From Wall Street Journal:

The sighting didn’t occur in some flower-filled field but in Queens, perhaps better known for shopping malls than wildlife. When I heard that an employee of New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection had discovered three chrysalises in a planting bed near 97th Street and 63rd Road, I boarded the M train to join the festivities.

“They were munching on Asclepias incarnata,” otherwise known as milkweed, the species’ favorite food, said Maria Corporan, the supervisor gardener who discovered them earlier this month. “I always look at the plants to see if there’s any diseases. I was like, oh my God, I guess we’ve got monarchs here.”

She wasn’t referring to fully formed butterflies but the humble caterpillars that precede them. The caterpillars create chrysalises, or pupas, the cases that protect and envelope them as they transform.

Ms. Corporan showed me a picture on her phone. To my surprise, the caterpillars were rather attention-grabbing on their own—large and with a monarch’s characteristic orange, black and white pattern.

She pointed out two of their chrysalises in the planting bed. I was surprised she found them, even though she saw the caterpillars at work. The chrysalises hung like jade-colored dewdrops, hidden on the underside of a dogwood shrub’s leaves.

Ms. Corporan feared that the third one, hooked onto a sweet pepperbush, was too close to the bed’s guardrail and could get knocked loose by a passerby. She took it back to her office, hoping it would emerge there.

I assumed that the butterflies would require a habitat at least the size of a vest-pocket park, but the planting bed appeared to be no more than 20 feet long and less than 10 feet wide. And butterfly habitat wasn’t even its primary purpose.

It was a bioswale, a piece of land designed to filter silt and pollution from surface water that might otherwise overwhelm water-treatment plants during heavy storms. “We’ve built over 2,500 around the city,” with thousands more planned, said Vincent Sapienza, the Department of Environmental Protection’s acting commissioner.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Fuzzy memory on Rivington House deal

From the NY Post:

First Deputy Mayor Tony Shorris suffered numerous memory lapses about the Rivington Street nursing-home fiasco, telling investigators more than two dozen times that he couldn’t recall incidents, ­emails or details, records show.

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s right-hand man claimed he couldn’t remember a meeting with Stacey Cumberbatch, a city commissioner, or the content of any conversations they had about Rivington in 2014.

His schedule showed a July 25, 2014, meeting with Cumberbatch, then head of the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, where the deal was on the agenda.

Shorris also said he believed his decision that the property should remain a nursing home — rather than be sold on the open market — was communicated to the agency.

But he couldn’t recall how.

“I’ve asked myself that question. I do not remember the exact mechanism. I just don’t,” he told investigators for city Comptroller Scott Stringer, according to a transcript of the July 27 interview obtained by The Post through public-disclosure laws.

Asked if he had met with Cumberbatch about Rivington in 2014, Shorris replied, “Probably. I can’t say I remember exactly.”

Cuomo unveils plan for new Penn Station

From NY1:

With its low ceilings and cramped corridors, Penn Station is anything but beloved by train travelers.

"It is decrepit, and it's an affront to riders who use it," said Governor Andrew Cuomo. "Well, why are you so negative on Penn Station? Because it's terrible!"

On Tuesday, Cuomo unveiled the latest proposal to make Penn Station a glorious terminal again.

The $1.6 billion renovation would move Amtrak and the Long Island Rail Road across Eighth Avenue into the Farley Post Office Building, to be renamed Moynihan Train Hall.

"New York will not have seen anything like it in decades," Cuomo said.

As part of the plan, the cramped concourses inside the existing Penn Station will be renovated and expanded to ease the space crunch for commuters.

"Right now, it's about 25 feet wide, so everybody's channeled in that cattle-call area," Cuomo said.

Cuomo says all the needed approvals and funding have been obtained, and that after decades of delays, the dream of a new Penn Station will finally be realized.

"I don't announce plans with caveats. This is what is going to happen," Cuomo said.

Dutch Kills shelter responsible for hundreds of 911 calls

From Queens Gazette:

Civic and local leaders are trying to figure out how the city chooses clients for its homeless shelters, and why so many people with a history of mental or psychiatric conditions are dumped in the shelter system, rather than being placed in facilities where they can obtain proper care and supervision.

Case in point: a homeless shelter for 200 women located at the former Verve Hotel at 40-03 29th St. in the Dutch Kills section of Long Island City.

Just released statistics show that there are currently 180 women living in the shelter. Fifty of those women are employed and close to living on their own, while 110 to 120 women have a history of psychiatric problems.

At a meeting last week attended by representatives of shelter operator Acacia Network and community leaders, police officials reported that officers at the 114th Precinct had responded to another 291 emergency (911) calls between June 1 and September 18, each involving shelter clients. The calls ranged from felony counts and drug possession to lesser counts of harassment and resisting arrest.

“Do the math,” Dutch Kills Civic Association President George Stamatiades said. “Officers at the 114th Precinct have responded to the shelter 641 times since it opened in October 2015. Throw that number at people who complain that police response is slow.”

The fact that cops were called to the shelter 291 times in just over three months, is in itself, startling.

“But when you add to that the fact that the same officers responded to 350 similar 911 calls involving shelter residents between November 2015 and February 2016, you have to question what’s going on there,” Stamatiades said.

“Many of the calls were placed by people inside the shelter – counselors and security guards who had problems with women who became combative,” a law enforcement source said. “They called 911 when situations got out of control, or when they posed some kind of imminent danger to others.”

“A number of the calls from the shelter were ‘aided’ requests for an ambulance or medical assistance for residents,” the source said. “There were a number of calls involving disputes and other conditions that required police intervention.”

People living near the shelter made 911 calls when they spotted shelter clients exposing themselves for cash to motorists, and to remove clients who were using basement laundry rooms to have sex with “customers.”

The Patel family owns this hotel and Acacia Network runs the homeless program. Now I believe it is clear why Maspeth is fighting a shelter in their neighborhood so vehemently.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Costly steaks

From the Daily News:

The city Conflicts of Interest Board announced Monday that two NYPD chiefs and a retired chief have each paid a $1,500 fine for glomming pricey restaurant dinners courtesy of then-Queens Library boss Thomas Galante's expense account.

Just-promoted Chief of Personnel Diana Pizzuti admitted that she accepted "gifts in the form of meals" at Christo's Steakhouse ($151 per-person), San Pietro ($124-per-person), and Quality Meats ($145 per-person). Galante also picked up the tab at Quality Meats on W. 58th St. for Pizzuti's husband, Robert Iovino, who was celebrating his 55th birthday.

Housing Police Chief James Secreto, and retired Transportation Chief James Tuller, were cited for dining out at Wolfgang's Steakhouse ($154 per person), Christo's Steakhouse, Quality Meats and San Pietro when they were borough commanders in Queens.

Homeless hotels have become an epidemic

From Brooklyn Daily:

Sunset Parkers came out in force to Community Board 7’s Sept. 21 meeting concerned that the city is quietly turning area hotels into homeless shelters. Numerous buildings billed as inns for tourists are actually homes for the transient, but the city is not broadcasting that fact, and locals are fed-up with the lack of transparency, said one resident.

“It feels like a bait-and-switch situation where we were told there was going to be a hotel but it’s a shelter,” said 23rd Street resident Maya Visco, referring to a stalled hotel that is operating as a temporary family shelter on 24th Street between Third and Fourth avenues. “You know I’m a home owner, my kids go to school here. I’m in it for the long haul and I want to know what is going on here, and I feel there is a serious lack of transparen­cy.”

Sunset Park only has one official homeless shelter — a controversial place for single men on 49th Street between Second and Third avenues. But the area is exploding with hotel development, and the Department of Homeless Services is actually renting rooms in five area inns without alerting locals, according to Community Board Seven district manager Jeremy Laufer.

“As they keep telling me, these are not shelters so they do not have to inform us when they are renting there,” he said.

This despite de Blasio having banned the use of hotels as shelters back in February.

Monday, September 26, 2016

The day that Maspeth marched through Floral Park

Below are photo albums from the Bellerose/Floral Park march that happened this Saturday.

You will notice that the signs protest the de Blasio administration, local politicians, Steven Banks and the DHS. There are none protesting against homeless children.

Joseph Concannon spoke first. It's obvious from his criticism of de Blasio's homeless policies that he must hate homeless children. (end sarcasm)

Mayor de Blasio must also think that State Senators Martins and Addabbo are child haters since they both attended the rally.

Funny how the Queens Machine stays silent about the mayor not only dumping shelters all over the borough, but unfairly framing one of their members and their constituents as people who want to see kids sleeping on the streets.

The protesters, however, aren't silent:

It also sounds like this movement is growing:

Other neighborhoods are getting pissed off about this as well. Click the photo below to hear from Rosedale and Woodside.

Thank you to Juniper Civic and Queens by the Minute for the additional footage.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

De Blasio sends crew to film protesters; makes propaganda video

As previously reported here, there was a joint protest held among Maspeth people and Bellerose/Floral Park people yesterday. We'll get to that soon, but in the meantime, we thought you'd like to know that the mayor spent your tax dollars to send a camera crew to the protest to film his constituents exercising their constitutional rights. They then took this footage and incorporated it into a video that exploits homeless children to make the mayor and DHS Commissioner Steven Banks look like heroes when in reality, they are warehousing women and children in hotel rooms without kitchens or access to public transportation. Unless a subway line in Bellerose opened that we weren't made aware of.

If this isn't the epitome of "fauxgressive" behavior, then we don't know what is.

Court Square "civic" forming

From DNA Info:

Court Square, a longtime hub for office workers that's grown increasingly residential over the last few years, is getting its own civic organization dedicated to shaping future development.

The Court Square Civic Association will hold its first public meeting Sept. 29 at 7 p.m. at MoMA PS1. It will feature a panel discussion with City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, Penny Lee of the Department of City Planning and Paul Januszewski of the local developer Rockrose.

You all always have developers at your civic meetings, right? Say no more. ROFLMFAO!!!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Patel's thinking twice about homeless hotels

From PIX11:

Avella, along with Grodenchik and Nassau County Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages, announced Friday that the owners of the controversial the Quality Inn in Bellerose, targeted for most of the summer to become a shelter, are looking to end their relationship with the homeless agency and scrap plans to house the homeless, effective Jan. 1. This is the second hotel owned by the Patel Group that has promised no longer to serve and house homeless people.

Coincidentally, this is the same hotel that PIX11 News exposed last December. Back then, homeless services was booking rooms for $175 a night — yet PIX11 was able to book them on their corporate site for significantly less.

Homeless services leadership has not responded to numerous requests for comment during the past month.

Patel has 2 hotels on Jericho Turnpike that he converted into shelters. A protest today will visit two of them.

Not exactly transparent

From NY1:

NY1 and the New York Post have sued the mayor over his refusal to turn over emails between top city officials, including himself, and Rosen.

In this case, though, the city did turn over some e-mails to NY1. But while we received 87 pages of e-mails in all, we learned that when the mayor had something to say, it was often blacked out.

When de Blasio sent a New York Times story about stagnant middle-class incomes to top city advisers, Del Cecato and his wife, Chirlane McCray, his note to the group was redacted.

It was the same with a New Yorker story about Hillary Clinton that he forwarded to his wife and Del Cecato. The mayor's message is blocked.

"These emails show how ridiculous it is to designate these consultants as agents of the city," said Dick Dadey of Citizens Union. "These emails, in particular, are benign. They are talking about political stories and news stories, and for them to be protecting the mayor's comments just shows how ridiculous this whole matter is.

De Blasio's handling of his emails have also raised complaints that he is failing to live up the transparency promises he made as a candidate for City Hall.

Building it Back on the city's dime

From the Wall Street Journal:

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration plans to use $500 million in New York City taxpayer money to fund initiatives related to superstorm Sandy that were expected to be fully paid for with federal aid, city officials said Wednesday.

The city’s plan to infuse half a billion dollars into Sandy recovery and storm-protection programs comes as the cost to U.S. taxpayers for repairing and elevating some of the houses damaged by the 2012 storm could hit about $1 million a home, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Tishman Construction submitted a package of bids to the city earlier this month to elevate 53 homes in Queens damaged by the 2012 storm for $50 million, according to documents and a person familiar with the bids. Tishman is overseeing hundreds of properties in the Build It Back program, an initiative dedicated to assisting owners whose homes were damaged by Sandy.

Build It Back has, to date, been bankrolled with federal Sandy relief funds allocated to the city by Congress through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The federal government is also funding a number of storm-protection initiatives aimed at protecting the city in the future.

But significant cost overruns in Build It Back appear to be leaving city taxpayers on the hook for some of the storm-protection initiatives. The program is about $500 million over budget.

Ciafone looking to flip Sunnyside Theatre

From Sunnyside Post:

...the site that once housed PJ Horgan’s, Dime Bank, a neighborhood dentist and Center Cinemas on 43rd Street and Queens Boulevard is back on the market.

John Ciafone, who bought the property from Dime Bank for $6.65 million in December 2012 has put it on the market for $19 million.

Ciafone originally said he would develop the site and construct a 5-7 story building with about 60-70 apartments and ground floor retail.

At the time he notified the owner of Center Cinemas and the dentist that he would not renew their lease. He also told PJ Horgan’s he wanted them to leave too.

That's quite a firewall!

Sometimes you just pass a Queens Crap specimen that boggles your mind. I have to say that a wall like this is something I've never come across before.

This appears to have been a subdivision in order to build an "attached" two-family house.

The old house needs a lot of work, and the new one apparently still does as well.

Friday, September 23, 2016

W train coming back soon

From NY1:

NY1 has confirmed that the W train will be returning Monday, November 7, running from Astoria to Whitehall in Lower Manhattan.

The W, which was discontinued in 2010, is being brought back in advance of the Q train being rerouted once the Second Avenue Subway opens.

The MTA still is aiming to open three new stations at 72nd, 86th and 96th streets by the end of the year.

Arverne owners file lawsuit over poor construction

From Crains:

Households who bought affordable condominiums in a city-sponsored Queens development are now stuck with $10 million in repairs due to shoddy construction, a lawsuit filed earlier this month alleges.

On Sept. 1, the condo board for Waters Edge at Arverne sued the Briarwood Organization and its principals, which built the 130-unit complex in the Rockaways after winning a request for proposals issued by the city's Department of Housing Preservation and Development. The board is seeking a total of about $150 million from the developer and another $60 million from the project's designers, AIA Architects.

Waters Edge, a development for low- and moderate-income households, was approved during the Bloomberg administration and completed in 2009. The complex is composed of 65 two-story buildings featuring a condo unit on each floor. The average cost for a two-bedroom unit was $188,000 and $300,000 for a three-bedroom.

Among several causes of action, the suit alleges that gutters, roofs and the frames of doors and windows were improperly installed and sealed, which has led to standing water, leaks and structural water damage. The findings were detailed in a 2015 report commissioned by the law firm Adam Leitman Bailey, which is representing the board. Many of the boilers in the complex were also installed contrary to the manufacturer's directions, residents said, which has left some homes without enough heat and causes a particular room to remain perpetually cold.

Additionally, the suit claims at least two aspects of Waters Edge's design violate the city's building code, even though the plans were approved by the city's Department of Buildings. For example, a valve to shut off the water supply to the apartments should be located in each unit, according to building code. But at Waters Edge, valves for both units in a house are located in the first floor condo. Similarly, the electric code states that every resident will have "ready access" to a box of circuit breakers. But in the complex, both circuit-breaker boxes are located within the top unit's garage. According to a Buildings Department spokesman, the city conducted several audits of the blueprints before construction began, but did not cite the owner for the locations of the water shut-off valves or circuit boxes.

Preet nails Cuomo donors

From The Buffalo News:

A massive pay-to-play scheme involving alleged bid rigging of state contracts involving hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer money was outlined by federal prosecutors Thursday in a case that targets longtime advisers and major donors of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

Manhattan-based U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s case alleges bribery, extortion and tax evasion. It also muddies a picture of ethical cleanliness that Cuomo has sought to portray of his administration since taking office in 2011.

Bharara, the prosecutor who has brought high-profile and successful cases against a lineup of state legislators, said Albany’s plague of corruption has now touched the executive branch of government.

“I really do hope that there’s a trial in this case so all New Yorkers can see in gory detail what their state government has been up to,” Bharara said in unveiling the Justice Department’s case against nine people, including Cuomo advisers Joseph Percoco and Todd R. Howe, and Alain E. Kaloyeros, president of SUNY Polytechnic Institute.

Louis P. Ciminelli, the Buffalo developer who is chairman and CEO of LPCiminelli, also is accused in the pay-to-play scheme. But allegations stretch across the state

They destroyed paradise to put this up

Followup on previous Queens Crap post from 2014.

Above photo was before. Bottom photo is now.

You can judge for yourself whether or not this improves the neighborhood the way the alleged owner claimed he would in the comments section last time around.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The hottest ticket in town!

Queens Crap contest: What's wrong here?

Take a hard look at the top and bottom photos here.
This is a Gerry Caliendo warehouse at the former site of St. Saviour's Church in Maspeth.
The winner receives 2 additional years of whatever Queens Machine party hack already represents you in Albany (exception made for residents in AD30).

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Just toss the homeless wherever it's convenient

From Newtown Pentacle:

As stated in yesterday’s post, my objections to the placement of this facility revolve around the actual location of it, which I honestly believe to be a violation of the human rights of a vulnerable population.

The Holiday Inn sits across the street from the Long Island Expressway, which produces a standing wall of high decibel sound. While I was shooting the shot above, I actually called a friend, whom I could not hear even though my headphones were in – and she could barely make out what I was saying despite the fact that I was shouting into the microphone.

This gas station with a convenience store is directly across the street from the hotel, and would presumptively fill the role of a supermarket for purchasing food and other existential necessaries. As is the case with such locations, everything you can purchase within is priced as high as the market will bear, and food items available are typically highly processed food stuffs designed for a long shelf life.

I guess the Mayor thinks that microwave burritos are good enough for these so called “Homeless” he’s planning on exiling to industrial Maspeth.

Is it smart to exile a vulnerable population in an industrial zone found along an elevated highway that carries close to a half million vehicle trips a day and which produces an ear shattering din? Is it ok for these people to be exploited by a check cashing location, and to have to make a choice between eating convenience store food, Chinese take out, or at McDonalds? Or, is it just expedient?

Bill's fuzzy memory on pay to play

From the NY Post:

Mayor de Blasio claimed Friday that his memory is fuzzy when it comes to the call he got from shady donor Jona Rechnitz urging him to appoint a retired NYPD official as head of the city’s Office of Emergency Management.

Asked whether he took the phone call from the Brooklyn developer at the center of the NYPD’s corruption scandal, Hizzoner praised OEM Commissioner Joe Esposito and insisted he couldn’t remember the conversation.

Earlier Friday, he went on a rant about a Post report that said he had given Esposito the $220,000-a-year job after Rechnitz’s call.

“How about we ask the question the right way? How did Joe Esposito become commissioner?” he told WNYC host Brian Lehrer.

“Not because some guy who I have no respect for his opinion offered his opinion. I don’t even remember him doing that. Because [Esposito] was a highly qualified person, and he’s done a fantastic job. Why is this mysterious?”

He called the report “ludicrous.”

The Post revealed Wednesday that Rechnitz, a cooperating witness in the NYPD scandal, made a call on his cellphone from the office of then-Chief of Department Philip Banks to de Blasio asking that Banks’ predecessor, Esposito, get the gig to run OEM.

Rechnitz later bragged to his associates that “I’ve got the mayor on lockdown,” sources said.

He donated $50,000 to de Blasio’s now-shuttered Campaign for One New York charity and gave him $9,900 for his 2013 mayoral bid.

Are BIDs the way to go?

From Crains: BIDs grow in size and scope, so do complaints about them. "They are cartels for landlords," said Moshe Adler, an adjunct professor of urban planning at Columbia University. "Make no mistake, BIDs may help small businesses when it suits them. But their fundamental role is advancing the interests of property owners."

Big BIDS are increasingly influential players at City Hall. Carl Weisbrod, the founding president of the Alliance for Downtown New York, the nation's largest BID, with $17 million in annual revenue, now heads the Department of City Planning. The Times Square Alliance was the driving force behind City Council legislation adopted earlier this year that corralled Elmo and other street performers into a designated corner of the pedestrian plaza. BIDs also lobbied the city to crack down on the fraudulent clothing- donation bins that once riddled streets and now are pressing to rein in street vendors.

Before the City Council approves a new BID, landlords must agree to perpetually fund the organization via assessments on their properties, typically a few hundred dollars per month depending on square footage and sidewalk frontage. Usually these expenses are passed on to commercial tenants through higher rents. By law, BID boards are controlled by landlords, which doesn't sit well with some business owners. "In a country that was founded by a revolution against taxation without representation, it's clear this is a huge issue," Alex Duffy, founder of a nonprofit theater in Brooklyn, said at a City Council hearing last year.

There is also evidence that BIDs hurt some retailers. A study published in the Journal of Planning Education and Research in 2014 showed that sales and employment at shops within New York City BIDs fared worse than at those outside the districts. The study's author, Stacey Sutton, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said it could be that BIDs help make neighborhoods more desirable, which attracts new shops and puts pressure on existing merchants to compete.

Yet BIDs continue to proliferate throughout the boroughs. Some 25 are currently being created or expanded, and the city plans to double the number of full-time staffers who oversee them. Mayor de Blasio lauded BIDs last February when he signed a bill expanding several of them. "It will mean more and better services locally, clean and inviting streets, initiatives that help our small businesses to attract more customers," he said.

Remembering Ramblersville

Curbed has a fascinating piece on Ramblersville, a forgotten section of Hamilton Beach.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Why Maurice Avenue is just about the worst place for a shelter

From the Newtown Pentacle:

The reason that this little travelogue is being presented today involves the plans recently presented by the De Blasio administration to convert a hotel in the area over to a homeless shelter. A subsequent post will detail the hotel and the area directly surrounding it, but this is the northern side of the zone which the “Big Little Mayor” has picked to warehouse those who are considered socially and economically undesirable. The community of Maspeth has responded with their characteristic flair, and pushed back on City Hall with considerable skill and energy. City Hall, as is its habit under the current Mayor reacted to the protests by implying that Maspeth’s indignation is fueled by racism. Several publications picked up this theme, and the Internet commentarium knee jerk followed the rhetoric offered by the administration of the “Dope from Park Slope.”

My personal views on the Maspeth shelter project were the subject of a debate recently with a former colleague whose views and perspectives I greatly respect, but the argument I make about the placement of people – people who exist at the lowest end of the socio-economic spectrum – in this area is that it’s a human rights violation.

Simply put, it ain’t exactly a bed of salubrious roses out around these parts even if you’ve got money in your pocket, let alone when you’re down and out. This wouldn’t be a shelter, this would be a penal colony.

On the subject of every neighborhood having to do “its fair share” – Maspeth already handles close to 20% of NYC’s garbage, it hosts the LIE and BQE, has several NYS and one Federal Superfund sites in it, and there are intersections where close to 3-400 heavy trucks an hour roll through on their way to Manhattan. The garbage train also transits through Maspeth a few times a day, which represents and comingles Brooklyn’s share of the garbage handling with Maspeth’s.

There are virtually no mass transit lines available from this location, police patrols are infrequent at best, and at night this is a virtually abandoned part of the city. Bus service is spotty, and it’s one of the places in Queens where you truly need a personal vehicle to get around.

There are streets with no sidewalks here in the half mile around the proposed shelter.

The shocking ignorance of City Hall regarding the existential realities of Western Queens never fails to amaze me. All they seem to know about our neighborhoods is what they see on maps rolled out on mahogany desktops that have pins stuck into them by paid cronies.

Sunnyside strip club shut down

From Sunnyside Post:

Secrets, the crime-plagued strip joint located at 49-19 Queens Boulevard, was shut down by the police earlier this month and the chances of it reopening are uncertain.

The police closed the club on September 9 following a series of violations, such as the sale of narcotics inside the establishment, a robbery near the premises, failure to comply with state liquor authority rules and not providing its employees with workers compensation.

The club was also in the news last November after a murder took place outside the premises following a dispute between club goers.

Deputy Inspector John Travaglia, commanding officer of the 108 Precinct, said at a Woodside community meeting Thursday that there is a 50-50 chance that the premises will not reopen.

Travaglia said the precinct is currently working to impose conditions on the premises—such as limiting its hours of operation and requiring security changes—before permitting it to reopen.

The new conditions would need to be approved by a Queens County Supreme Court judge.

Van Bramer stops de Blasio backed project

From the Daily News:

The developer of a Queens affordable housing project has scrapped the proposal amid opposition, another defeat for Mayor de Blasio’s home-building push.

Phipps Houses yanked the application to build 209 apartments in Sunnyside, all of them income restricted, a day before the City Council was set to hold a hearing.

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Queens) had vowed to oppose the plan, making approval all but impossible on the Council, which usually follows the lead of the local member on development projects.

It’s the second defeat of a project under de Blasio’s mandatory inclusionary housing rules, after an Inwood proposal was voted down in the Council. But a large project for the Bronx was approved last week.

De Blasio got personally involved with the push for the Sunnyside plan - saying he would have a “polite but firm” conversation with Van Bramer to persuade him the project was a “blessing.”

But Van Bramer said the mayor’s intervention backfired.

“The mayor’s involvement here was not helpful,” he said. “His comments about me sort of ratcheted this thing up and helped to get my community riled up, and that was not conducive to working out a deal.”

Monday, September 19, 2016

St. Albans getting a shelter, too?


Roslyn, N.Y.-based Bama Associates has filed applications for a two-story, 74-bed co-ed community residential facility at 118-36 Merrick Boulevard, located on the corner of 119th Avenue in St. Albans, Queens. The new building will measure 9,596 square feet. It’s unknown what exactly the facility will be used for, but indications are that it will be some form of shelter, temporary housing, or recovery program.

Funny how just a few years ago, there was an alleged Queens hotel boom but now it's a shelter boom thanks to the poverty pimps at city hall. Who knew that there was so much money to be made off poor people?

Employees say Mark-Viverito demanded discrimination at NYCHA

From the Daily News:

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito pressured the Housing Authority to remove the black manager of a Bronx housing development and replace her with a “Spanish manager,” former and current NYCHA workers told the Daily News.

Officials were so eager to make the Speaker’s wish come true that they turned to the city Department of Investigation to help “find something” on the manager.

Mark-Viverito made her ethnic-specific demand during a July 30, 2015, emergency meeting with several NYCHA officials held in her Bronx office, one of the meeting’s participants told the Daily News.

One of NYCHA’s top executives, Senior Vice President for Operations Brian Clarke, participated in that meeting via speakerphone — and later pressured subordinates to address Mark-Viverito’s demand because of the “cultural sensitivity” of the development’s tenants.

The Speaker began the meeting by asking how NYCHA dealt with Spanish-speaking tenants at the Mill Brook Houses in Mott Haven, according to the participants.

Mark-Viverito then confronted Allison Williams, the black manager of Mill Brook who is not fluent in Spanish, according to Williams and her boss, Sibyl Colon, NYCHA’s then-director of Optimal Property Management Department.

Williams says she told Mark-Viverito that — per NYCHA policy — she would rely on a “language bank” of on-call translators when dealing with non-English-speaking tenants.

Colon and Williams say Mark-Viverito responded with anger.

“She started asking me: ‘What do you do when you have to deal with the Spanish residents?’ I don’t speak Spanish. I said I used the language bank. She said — in her words — ‘That's unacceptable.’ I just sat silent.”

Colon, who was also at the meeting, says Mark-Viverito turned to her and stated, “You’re not hearing me. I want a Spanish manager.”

We just can't have nice things

From the Daily News:

The city announced Wednesday it’s pulling the plug on the kiosk’s web browsing capabilities after a slew of complaints about people using them to check out smut sites.

The kiosks, which replaced outdated pay phones, will continue to grant users free phone calls, and access to maps and 311 services. And people can still use the hundreds of kiosks — sprinkled throughout Manhattan, the Bronx and Queens — as a hot spot for Wi-Fi for their own devices.

“There were concerns about loitering and extended use of LinkNYC kiosks, so the mayor is addressing these quality-of-life complaints head on,” said Natalie Grybauskas, a spokeswoman for Mayor de Blasio.

Some predicted that they would be a problem even before the first kiosk went up earlier this year.

Raymond Sanchez, the general counsel for Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. who was involved in the franchise deal, said worries about “misconduct” were brought up in the contract talks.

At the time, he said City Bridge, the private company that partnered with the city to turn old pay phones into high-tech kiosks, said they could add firewalls to block inappropriate sites, and would have timers so people couldn’t sit all day and watch videos.

The company did install safeguards to try to block porn, but it appeared that many users found ways to get around them.

Great natural area on the northern shore of Queens

Nathan Kensinger/Curbed
From Curbed:

Running roughly 6,000 feet from its head near Northern Boulevard to its mouth in Udalls Cove, this diminutive stream travels through a bucolic backyard ravine in Little Neck, Queens, which has largely been saved from developers by several generations of local volunteers. Their successful battle to preserve their neighborhood’s waterfront, and to restore it to health, continues to be one of the most impressive community organizing efforts in the city. And yet, like Hook Creek and Bridge Creek, Gabler’s Creek remains a relatively unknown Queens waterway, flowing out of sight at the very edge of the city.

The fact that Gabler’s Creek even exists today is largely due to the work of the Udalls Cove Preservation Committee (UCPC), a small neighborhood organization founded in 1969 by the concerned residents of Douglaston and Little Neck. "A golf course had been planned, filling in the wetlands. That was the pivotal moment," says Walter Mugdan, who has been the president of the group since 2002. Their initial efforts helped to create the 30-acre Udalls Park Preserve, a protected area now jointly managed by the NYC Parks Department and the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation.

In recent years, the UCPC has continued to protect the preserve from overdevelopment, invasive species, erosion, flooding, and a host of other challenges. "Altogether, our organization has spent between $225,000 and $250,000 over the last 12 years on various large projects," says Mugdan. "For a tiny organization like ours, that’s pretty good."

Funded by grants and donations, these projects include planting over 1,000 new trees, removing more than a million pounds of concrete rubble, building and maintaining numerous new trail systems and foot bridges, and helping the city to identify and purchase the final few properties that would make Gabler’s Creek into a single, continuous public space. "This is a last little remnant of the natural world here," explains Mugdan, reflecting on the importance of the preserve. "It is hardly a pristine wilderness, but you make the best of what you’ve got."

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Call it what it is, Bill!

From ABC:

New York City's mayor said an explosion in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan Saturday night that injured 29 people was an "intentional act."

The explosion happened around 8:30 p.m. Saturday in front of 131 West 23rd Street, between Sixth and Seventh avenues.

Twenty-eight of the people hurt suffered minor injuries, and one person's injuries are being described as serious. All are expected to survive.

Debris landed on nearby cars and shattered some windows. Two cars on West 23rd Street and Sixth Avenue had their back windows blown out. An 8-year-old who was in the back seat was injured.

The incident was captured on multiple surveillance cameras.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said that while the blast appeared to be intentional, it does not appear to be linked to terrorism.

Can someone explain to me how there can be two bombs planted in the middle of Manhattan and the mayor is saying that it's not terrorism? Does he think we're stupid?

Saturday, September 17, 2016

De Blasio tells Maspeth where it may protest

From DNA Info:

Mayor Bill de Blasio called out angry Queens residents who protested against a proposed neighborhood shelter in front of Commissioner Steven Banks' Brooklyn home — accusing them of being NIMBYs and telling them to unleash their fury at Gracie Mansion instead.

The mayor, speaking with Brian Lehrer on his weekly call-in to WNYC, said it wasn't right for more than 200 protestors to disrupt Banks and his neighbors Thursday night.

"If you have a problem, come to my home," de Blasio said. "Come to Gracie Mansion, you can protest all you want. Come to City Hall. But leave alone decent public servants who are just trying to give people a place to live."

Taking out the trash in Flushing

From the Queens Chronicle:

Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) announced that Flushing’s “Restaurant Row” — a block of 40th Road between Prince Street and Main Street — will receive 150 45-gallon pails from Crown Container Company on Tuesday to help clean it up.

“40th Road has always been a challenging part of Flushing,” Koo said. “Crown Container has been an outstanding partner in Flushing, and we are grateful that they have supplied these waste receptacles and new trucks to address the sanitation problems of 40th Road.”

Distribution of the pails began on Monday.

The container company recently bought $300,000 worth of equipment for sanitation on 40th Road and other sections of the neighborhood. Crown also will begin to use a new truck that has a cart tipper which will work to keep the containers from spilling. The collections will happen at 5 p.m. and 10 p.m.

So this company is helping clean up NYC, yet NYC still wants to take away their land for a shitty Willets Point project that will never happen. Okay.

Long overdue legislation

From AMNY:

The City Council passed a bill from Public Advocate Letitia James on Wednesday that offers better legal protection for pedestrians that are struck by drivers in the crosswalk.

The bill closes a loophole in city law and give walkers the right of way in a crosswalk when a countdown clock is in progress or when a red hand signal is flashing.

The previous law, which was established before the existence of countdown timers, only granted pedestrians the right to cross the street during a walk symbol.

“This brings our law as it relates to our city into the 21st century,” said James, who hosted a rally at City Hall Wednesday morning before the legislation passed. “It corrects a dangerous loophole that basically offered no legal liability for drivers. We wanted to provide pedestrians some protections under the law.”

Advocates say that the loophole had made it difficult for prosecutors to enforce the city’s “Right of Way” law, a Vision Zero measure passed two years ago that provides a criminal misdemeanor to any driver who strikes a pedestrian or cyclist who has the right of way to cross a street.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Maspeth brings shelter protest to Brooklyn; de Blasio upset

From WPIX:

From the last year, PIX11 has closely examined the homeless crisis from all angles, including bold protests from working class residents in Maspeth, over New York City Homeless Commissioner Steven Banks' proposed conversion of a Holiday Inn Express Hotel into a homeless shelter.

Talk turned into action Thursday night, as dozens of working class residents boarded three charter buses in Maspeth, Queens and rolled to Winsor Terrace, Brooklyn to take their fight right to NYC Department of Homeless Services Commissioner Banks' doorstep.

"They don't want to talk to us, so we have to do this to protect our neighborhood, and our children," one protester said.

When news broke of the Maspeth residents aggressive plan to engage Commissioner Banks on his turf, Mayor de Blasio's office preemptively issued a statement on his part:

"The city will continue to engage with community members regarding this proposal, but New York City will not stand for the harassment of a government official and his family at their home."

But listen to what the Mayor had to say about a citizen's right to protest back in April 2015: "We have a deep, deep respect for the right to peacefully protest."

And as the city continues to try to force the Maspeth Holiday Inn conversion into a homeless shelter, PIX11 uncovered an increased reliance by the city to house the homeless in corporate hotels, citing data pulled directly from the recently released Mayor's Office of Operations shelter report.

When de Blasio tapped Commissioner Banks for the job last December, the city was using 36 homeless hotels.

Banks -- under his watch -- has 68 hotels that the city is relying on the house the homeless.

What's become of Kew Gardens' Japanese House

You may recall the saga of the Kew Gardens Japanese House. When we last checked in back in November it had been hit with a stop work order. Above is a collection of photos which serves as a time progression of renovations made to the house. It's become unrecognizable.

Meet Toby's Republican opponent

From Carlos Giron:

Carlos G. Giron, the former Director of Hispanic Communications with Major League Soccer, is an experienced, versatile and fully bilingual communications and marketing executive.

Carlos has worked in a variety of roles and in variety of industries. From MLS to Verizon Wireless, he helps some of our country's top companies and nonprofit organizations to effectively disseminate their messaging and meaningfully connect with target audiences.

He currently runs VIDA Communications, his own PR and marketing practice. In this capacity, he serves current and former clients that include Time Warner Cable, Allstate, St. Jude Childrens' Research Hospital, Caesars Entertainment, the UFC, HBO, Showtime and PR Newswire. His work for the NephCure Foundation received nationwide recognition and was featured on PRWeek, the public relations industry’s premier trade publication. His outstanding work helped the NephCure foundation raise awareness about kidney disease and how victims of this illness can secure invaluable treatment and assistance.

On the public affairs front, Carlos worked as a staff member of the successful 2009 reelection campaign of former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the 2013 mayoral run of Adolfo Carrion.

Perhaps the DOT needs a calendar

Thursday, September 15, 2016

DeBlasio's Evil Empire has its sights on Maspeth

From DHS (Current Requests for Proposals):

In order to meet its legal obligations DHS maintains an open-ended Request for Proposal process through which non-profit social service providers submit proposals to augment capacity. Although DHS does not target specific areas to open shelters, the agency strives to keep families near their communities as much as possible. This is an open-ended request for proposals, therefore, there is no prescribed due date for submissions. All suitable proposals will be reviewed by the agency on an ongoing basis as received. Non-profit social service providers may submit a proposal to develop and operate the following:

Stand-Alone Transitional Residences for Homeless Single Adults
Stand-Alone Transitional Residences for Homeless Families
Stand-Alone Drop-In Centers for Homeless Adults

Ok, so the social services provider makes a deal with a building owner and then applies to the DHS for a contract.

When the city was asked how it can go into business with Harshad S. Patel, who had bragged about bribing a state senator in the past, they told the following to channel 11:

This jibes with what it says on their website.

So then how can this be?

From NY1:

The Department of Homeless Services says negotiations to convert a Queens hotel into a homeless shelter are ongoing. This comes after the Holiday Inn Express in Maspeth tweeted last night saying it’s confirming “the hotel will not be converting to a shelter as suggested.”

From the Queens Chronicle:

A Department of Homeless Services spokesperson told the Chronicle in a brief phone call on Friday that "negotiations are ongoing" between the city, hotel owner Harshad Patel and service provider Acacia Network. Just one day earlier, Patel told the Chronicle in an interview that the proposal is 100 percent dead.

Why is the city pressuring the hotel owner into a contract with Acacia Network, when that's not how the process is supposed to work?

Bill de Blasio desperately wants a shelter in Maspeth and his Evil Empire will do whatever it takes to make sure that happens, even if it means breaking the rules and making sure the city contracts with a crook. The question is, which stable, working class neighborhood will be next? (Looks like it may be Corona.)

Supermarket site to become giant hotel

From Queens Gazette:

Developers last week released plans for development of a parcel at the northwest corner of Northern Boulevard and Steinway Street, where a six-story, 272-unit hotel will rise on a site formerly occupied by a Western Beef Supermarket.

Initial plans indicate that the development will include 18,200-square-feet of retail space on the ground floor, with a potential to expand the retail space to 30,000-square-feet.

Plans show that a car wash, spa and restaurant located next to the property on Northern Boulevard will be demolished to make way for the hotel and retail space.

Plans for the development include parking spaces for approximately 60 vehicles.

And how long will this remain a hotel before its inevitable conversion into you-know-what?