Monday, October 31, 2016

De Blasio 2013 campaign audit still not done

From the NY Post:

They’ve had three years, but auditors for the city’s Campaign Finance Board still haven’t completed a review of Mayor de Blasio’s 2013 campaign.

Dick Dadey, president of Citizens Union, said that’s “unacceptable.”

“That they have not done this yet indicates there are unresolved issues and problems with the campaign’s spending of taxpayer dollars,” Dadey said.

“The public needs to know what, if any, issues there were with the campaign’s handling of its finances.”

Audits are supposed to be completed within 18 months.

But campaigns often request — and are granted — extensions.

The CFB declined to say whether de Blasio 2013 asked for such and extension and the campaign didn’t respond to an email.

Records show de Blasio’s campaign received $3.9 million in public matching funds in 2013.

Homeless number explosion means dumping on a lot of neighborhoods

The ridiculous numbers of hotels being used as homeless shelters and the total mishandling of the homeless situation by both the de Blasio administration and the providers that get paid millions to not provide services has now become a citywide concern. Check these articles out:

Pols discuss homeless, immmigration at Bayside Hills Civic meeting

Electeds debunk rumors that new buildings in Astoria complex would house homeless

Easy Access to Heroin On Manhattan Ave. Tempts Shelter Residents: Director

Luxe hotel near celebrity homes sued for housing homeless

Coney Island A “Dumping Ground For Homeless Shelters” Locals Complain In Protest to Proposed Shelter

And finally, 2 editorials:

Can DHS be trusted?

De Blasio’s homeless ‘strategy’ isn’t a strategy at all

Sunday, October 30, 2016

City Council repeals McMansion permit rule

From Brooklyn Daily:

[The City] Council demolished a rule on Oct. 27 that lets Ridgites drastically enlarge their homes because people were taking advantage of so-called “special permits” to erect gaudy McMansions. The reversal is a win, because loophole abusers were tearing the neighborhood apart by building flashy digs that stuck out on otherwise idyllic blocks, one local leader said.

“A home is your biggest asset, and when you have someone who applies for a special permit and does not respect the character of the block, it pits neighbors against neighbors,” said Community Board 10 district manager Josephine Beckmann. “I am very happy that after many years of advocacy for its removal it’s finally completed.”

The permits were available to residents seeking to expand one- and two-family homes larger than zoning laws allow. The Department of City Planning created the permits so families could enlarge their homes as they had children — rather than having to move to a bigger house every time a new member joins the family.

The community board originally opted into the program 20 years ago believing that the city would ensure the expansions did not alter the neighborhood’s character, but the permits were frequently used for projects community leaders felt were inappropriate, said Beckmann.

“I think it was well-intended, but in time I think we realized that it really wasn’t being used as it was intended,” she said. “Now this protects community character and stops developers from using it to expand houses just because they can.”

Community Board 10 has tried to deep-six the special permits in the past, but the notion never gained traction. This go-around, Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge) and the Department of City Planning helped the board draft an amendment to zoning law that would remove it from the special-permit program, and Gentile got his colleagues in Council to unanimously approve the measure.

We're liking this Gentile fellow!

Woman wins and then loses at Resorts World

From Eyewitness News:

It was casino chaos in this video shot by Katrina's partner after she reported her huge winnings. She was surrounded by customers and casino personnel and security. Escorted off the casino floor, she was told to come back tomorrow for the decision.

Katrina remembers her next day visit to the casino, "I said what did I win? (casino rep said) You didn't win nothing." Katrina says the only winning the casino offered was a steak dinner.

"They win and the house doesn't want to pay out. To me that's unfair," says her attorney, Alan Ripka.

Ripka says, at the very least Katrina should win the maximum allowed on the Sphinx machine the casino says it's $6,500.

"The machine takes your money when you lose. It ought to pay it when you win," said Ripka.

The state gaming commission told us Katrina's machine malfunctioned. Stated on all machines "malfunctions void all pays and plays."

Saturday, October 29, 2016

De Blasio will go to ridiculous lengths to malign his constituents and protect his donors

From the Queens Chronicle:

Comptroller Scott Stringer on Thursday called for empathy toward the homeless population in Queens and elsewhere, but added that the mayor’s policies are not working to solve the crisis facing the five boroughs.

Stringer, who is reportedly considering a primary challenge against Mayor de Blasio next year, spoke in front of hundreds of people concerned about the placement of single men at the Holiday Inn Express in Maspeth, as well as the 60,000-plus people in the shelter system.

Toward the end of the Q&A session, a homeless couple with two small children living in a Brooklyn shelter told Stringer of the deplorable conditions they’ve lived in — including a lack of privacy, curfews that inhibit them from keeping jobs and mouse droppings in their unit.

“The shelter system is not working for us,” Alan Diaz, the husband, said.

Stringer told Diaz his office would work with the couple to remedy their situation. A member of the Juniper Park Civic bought dinner for the family and the 50/50 raffle winner donated their winnings to the Diazs.

Asked about the comptroller's remarks on the mayor's policies, mayoral spokeswoman Aja Worthy-Davis said in an emailed statement “Scott Stringer is courting a group advocating for kicking women and toddlers onto the street, using White Lives Matter as their protest song. He should be ashamed.”

Bob Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, called Worthy-Davis’ statement “slanderous” and that he has consulted his attorney.

Henry Berger, counsel to the mayor, said in an emailed statement, "We are entitled to present facts and to express our opinions. Neither provides a basis for legal action."

The video produced by the Mayor’s Office has audio of a “White Lives Matter” chant as protesters earlier this month demonstrated outside the Bellerose Inn, which is being used as a homeless shelter but is in the process of transitioning people inside there to other locations. A Chronicle reporter at that rally did not hear the chant and some said the city may have added the audio to make the protesters seem racist.

Here are some of the speakers from the event. I can totally see them at a Klan rally, can't you? (end sarcasm)

Who is trying to divide the city?

Mayor de Blasio.

Who is working toward bringing it together?

The people.

Still Building It Back

From NBC 4:

Walk through the Queens community of Broad Channel with the head of New York’s Build it Back program, and every aspect of the embattled program is crystal clear: there are signs of construction everywhere, but homes are still in limbo. Pei-Sze Cheng reports.

Friday, October 28, 2016

AG Schneiderman lobbied on mall in park; submits court brief in favor

Dear Editor (Queens Chronicle):

(An open letter to state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman)

For many years I and many other residents of Queens have fought to protect the integrity of Flushing Meadows Corona Park as an urban park. We successfully defeated an attempt to construct around Meadow Lake in the park a Grand Prix racetrack. We were not successful in opposing the usurpation of parkland for the USTA stadiums and their expansions. We made it clear we would oppose any attempt to place in the park a soccer or hockey stadium.

There is currently pending before the New York State Court of Appeals, our highest state court, litigation that seeks to prevent the construction of a 1.4 million-square-foot shopping mall on the parking lot adjacent to the Citi Field stadium, on the grounds the lot is on land that is part of FMCP and there can be no alienation of parkland without New York State legislative approval and the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure before the community boards whose areas touch upon the park. The developers claim that with regard to use of the Citi Field parking lot they have no obligation to seek legislative approval nor any requirement to engage in the ULURP process. While we lost our case in the lower court, our attorney, John Low-Beer, was successful before the Appellate Division First Department in having the lower court reversed and construction of the mall prohibited. The developers then appealed to the Court of Appeals.

We recently became apprised of the fact that you as attorney general of New York State have injected yourself into the litigation and are submitting an amicus curiae brief in support of the developers and their projected mega mall. We find your 11th-hour entry into this litigation indeed strange, given that at no time while the issue was being debated before the public was there any participation by you or your office. As the attorney general we expect you to be the defender of the public trust doctrine as it relates to parkland. We are certain you are familiar that in the past the AG office has invoked the public trust doctrine in the cases of Friends of Van Cortlandt Park v. City of New York and Capruso v. Village of Kings Point. We fail to understand how you differentiate a mega mall on parkland from the cited cases.

We do not know if your initiative was prompted by yourself or as the result of lobbying from the developers or at the behest of Gov. Cuomo, who in the past has sought to settle the pending litigation and permit a mall. In this connection, we think it relevant and important to take note of the fact that, according to the Board of Elections’ website, Sterling Equities, Sterling Mets LP, Related Companies, Stephen M. Ross, Kara Ross, Jeff T. Blau and Lisa Blau — all related in various ways with the developers of the mall project — have contributed to election campaigns of both you and Cuomo a total of $187,300 since 2010. That is a large amount, which raises serious questions regarding the obligation of both you and the governor to protect the interests of your constituents and not that of billionaire real estate moguls.

Benjamin M. Haber

De Blasio has landed a helicopter in a park before

From the NY Post:

Mayor de Blasio shut down a Little League baseball game in a Harlem park for more than an hour in August so police could ready a field for his helicopter, The Post has learned.

The chopper landing was then abruptly canceled after an angry dad started griping to cops about the intrusion, threatening to post pictures of the mayoral interruption on social media, a source said.

The extended seventh-inning stretch got underway at Harlem River Park during an Aug. 9 Little League game when the NYPD cleared the diamond of two under-14 teams, one dad told The Post.

The cops “basically told everybody to get off the field,” the dad said.

“The mayor wants to land his helicopter here,” he recalled police telling him.

And when he griped to the officers they sympathized. “They said it’s absolutely ridiculous and that I should file a complaint,” said the dad, who didn’t want his name printed for fear of retribution.

Another angry dad confirmed the story.

De Blasio was slated to deliver remarks at Gracie Mansion at 7 pm that evening and visited an injured firefighter at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx earlier that day. He had nothing else on his public schedule.

What it's like to live in de Blasio's homeless hotels

From PIX11:

For much of this year, PIX11 has been focusing on Department of Homeless Services Commissioner Steven Banks' increasing reliance on commercial hotels, but on Wednesday, we spoke to a homeless mother who has the experience to talk about the subject – she's already been in three this year.

Things were so bad in some of those hotels, the DHS transferred her to a hotel in the Belmont section of the Bronx, where the conditions we found are not much better.

Aventura Lopez has been languishing in the New York City homeless hotel shelter system. She has stayed in three so far since January of this year.

Based on what she told PIX11, her situation has gone from bad to worse. In her words, "miserable."

Lopez credits the Department of Homeless Services led by embattled Commissioner Banks for her misfortune. She blames them for putting her and her two daughters into a shelter on Crotona Avenue with no heat.

These chilly conditions are an example of what many homeless shelter residents say they've been living with for months. In other words, simply taking homeless families off the streets in order to fulfill their legal obligation to house them but providing questionable or in some cases absolutely zero social services to get out of the shelter system and back on their feet.

Lopez said she's been contacted "zero" times by the city to help her find a job.

"Not at all," Lopez said. "The case work is there but as far as helping, no. No housing specialist, nothing."

The comptroller released a report detailing the poor conditions in these shelters.

Whitestone neighbors unhappy with meat dried outdoors

From Eyewitness News:

Chicken and pork, dried and seasoned, have been left hanging from a line in a backyard in Whitestone, Queens.

The home cured meat is causing a clash between neighbors on 7th Avenue, who say the tenants moved in a month ago and the meat went up about a week ago.

"All of a sudden, we had chicken and bacon hanging from the fence and awning next door to my house," said Eugene DiFolco, a Whitestone resident.

Residents say it's attracting flies and rats. They say thankfully the stench simmered down when the temperatures dropped.

"It's to eat. It's to eat for Chinese food," the homeowner said.

A woman at the home told me her family cures to meat to make traditional Chinese food.

The Health Department says in general this is legal if it's for personal consumption and if it does not become a nuisance to other residents.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Students help the ecosystem of Jamaica Bay

From CBS 2:

It’s a new day for Jamaica Bay. Hundreds of volunteers will spend a week digging in to help shore up the coastline.

As CBS2’s Vanessa Murdock reported, their efforts may make the area more storm-resistant and keep local wildlife thriving.

Over one week, 400 volunteers will shovel the shoreline of the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge to make room for 10,000 native trees and shrubs. They’re plant now to create a more resilient coast in the future.

“Our world is changing, sea level is rising. We’re having increased flooding in areas that were drier than before.” Chief of Resource Stewardship, Gateway National Recreation Area, Patti Rafferty said, “Sandy produced a surge of nearly 8.5-ft in Jamaica Bay – caused big problems for the ecosystem.”

Rafferty said the beach was breached. What was a freshwater source for hundreds of species of birds became brackish. Trees were uprooted, plants died, and invasive species took over.

Now, volunteers – led by the National Park Service, Jamaica Bay Rockaway Parks Conservancy, and the Nature Conservancy are taking it back.

They’re making room for natives like juniper and pitch pine.

East Elmhurst protests new shelter in their community

Last night members of East Elmhurst and Corona held a protest outside the Marriott Courtyard, just outside LaGuardia Airport. The area already has several shelters and hotels serving as shelters. They were joined by protesters from Elmhurst and Maspeth and announced that they are joining forces.

Stay tuned, folks.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

East Elmhurst up in arms over plethora of shelters

I can't wait to see the propaganda video that results from this one!

Clerk rules that developers aren't lobbyists

From Crains:

The Office of the City Clerk, which regulates lobbying activities in the city, issued an advisory opinion to clarify "fuzzy" language from a 2013 update that had design professionals wondering if applying for permits from the Department of Buildings counted as lobbying. The clarification effectively exempts those activities. "It's very important for them to know if they are following the letter of the law," said Hannah O'Grady, vice president of the American Council of Engineering Companies of New York, a trade organization representing a wide variety of engineers who had sought guidance from the city this spring.

The lobbying law was designed as a transparency measure to disclose who is attempting to influence government. In the development world, developers and property owners—along with the architects, engineers, code consultants or other professionals they hire—are technically trying to persuade government employees in the DOB to grant permits. But Monday's advisory opinion states that any communication with the DOB "relating to the issue of permits, approvals or other construction-related documents" is not considered a lobbying activity.

The clarification was welcomed by O'Grady, but the development community is still waiting for guidance on other portions of the 2013 update. Specifically, the law is still unclear about whether architects who shepherd major projects and rezonings through the city's public review process would need to register as lobbyists. Engineers who perform environmental analyses to see whether these initiatives will have an adverse impact on the existing community are similarly confused.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Still no explanation for Bill's magical helicopter ride

From the Daily News:

Ten days after Mayor de Blasio took a helicopter ride from Brooklyn to Queens, his office still refuses to explain what he was doing on that fateful Friday and why he needed to fly between boroughs.

The Daily News is calling on our readers to help solve the case of the airbound mayor. We're asking anyone who has any information to please email the News at

His schedule isn’t much of a help.

Hizzoner had an 8:30 a.m. appearance at the Association for a Better New York breakfast in Midtown Manhattan, and called into a radio show at 10:30 a.m.

There’s nothing else on the schedule to explain why he was in Brooklyn and needed to take a chopper to his 6:30 p.m. speech at the opening of the New Electrical Industry Training Center in Long Island City.

His office won’t say what he was doing, except that he wasn’t at the Prospect Park YMCA, his favorite hangout, and that he was at a series of meetings in Brooklyn.

Why did he take a helicopter? Because he could.

Bioswale blunder in Maspeth

From CBS 2:

A city project intended to help the environment has a Queens resident upset over the destruction it has caused in front of her home.

As CBS2’s Valerie Castro reported, the project has cost the woman thousands of dollars.

“They destroyed the concrete,” said Jeanette Romano of Maspeth. “Destroyed it, destroyed it.”

Romano is not happy about the city’s recent installment of a rain garden in her sidewalk – a sidewalk she said she has paid to repair before.

“We got a notice to fix the sidewalk, which we did,” Romano said. “A year later, they came and broke it up to put a tree in, cracking all the sidewalk.”

Romano said after the tree was installed, she paid more money to repair the damage and spruce up the spot with concrete bricks.

As for the total cost, Romano said, “I can’t even tell you – thousands.”

A year later, the bricks were torn out for the rain garden, which will be made up of stones, soil and plants.

“It’s terrible. It’s absolutely terrible,” Romano said. “Every time I come out, I get very anxious and upset about this.”

The rain garden, or bioswale, on Romano’s block is one of hundreds installed across the city by the Department of Environmental Protection to keep dirty runoff water out of sewers and protect natural waterways.

The DEP said residents are given notice when a bioswale is going in, but it is not something a resident can choose to avoid.

Being mobilized helps

From DNA Info:

The low-income communities of the Lower East Side and the Rockaways both suffered extensive damage from Superstorm Sandy four years ago.

But advocates on the Lower East Side were able to engage more effectively in post-storm resiliency efforts than their counterparts in Queens because they already had a robust network of community activism in place from years of fighting gentrification, according to a recently published study from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice & the Graduate Center.

Researchers focused on the role of community organizations and being able to respond to the “climate change politics” of the city, which is increasingly important as the frequency of storms is expected to rise along with rising sea levels, noted Leigh Graham, John Jay environmental psychology professor and lead author of the study.

While both areas have high concentrations of public housing residents and low-income households, the Lower East Side’s pre-existing civic infrastructure of community based organizations and social services fighting against development pressures enabled residents to recover more quickly, according to researchers who spent six months interviewing community groups in the area and 18 months in the Rockaways.

The Rockaways, on the other hand, were at a disadvantage, not only because the area is more geographically isolated on the far edge of the city, but also because it’s more racially and economically segregated.

There’s a high concentration of poverty along the eastern part of the peninsula where the residents have suffered from decades of economic “malaise,” which in effect weakened and undermined their post-storm response, researchers found.

“The Lower East Side and the Rockaways had similar levels of exposure in terms of storm flooding,” Graham said, “but the Lower East Side groups were basically a partner in a lot of the resiliency efforts after the storm, in part because residents, who live there, have been fighting gentrification for 30 to 40 years and established a level of organization, trust and power, that they were able to get a seat at the table as important stakeholders.”

Community groups on the Rockaways did not have the same level of organization prior to the storm and remain more focused on meeting present economic needs than on pursing long-term resilience planning, she noted.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Crowley actually knew about Maspeth shelter plan in MAY, said nothing

From QNS:

City Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks informed City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley about the proposed homeless shelter in Maspeth more than two months before it was officially announced, according to a source with the Department of Social Services (DSS).

The source told QNS on Thursday that Banks and Crowley exchanged phone calls “several times before the Aug. 3 community meeting” at the Maspeth library, where city officials announced plans to convert the Holiday Inn Express on 55th Road into a homeless shelter for up to 220 adults. Earlier this month, the city ultimately halted that plan and instead rented hotel rooms to indefinitely house 30 homeless men.

The earliest Crowley knew about the shelter plan, according to the DSS source, was in May at an initial meeting between Crowley and Banks. They had met on May 19 at Crowley’s legislative office in Manhattan and “subsequently had a number of additional, detailed in-person and telephone conversations” about the proposal. QNS has requested from DSS any recordings taken of those conversations.

“At the May 19 meeting, Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks informed Council Member Crowley that there were plans by a nonprofit service provider to convert the Holiday Inn in Maspeth from a commercial hotel into a homeless shelter for adult families, and that there was an urgent need for additional shelter capacity immediately,” the source said.

Thank you for clarifying, QNS!

You can still vote if you die

From CBS:

This election cycle is dredging up the pain of the past for one Queens woman.

Michelle Dimino’s father, Anthony Baldomir, passed away in October 2012. Since then, she’s been receiving his absentee ballots for the primaries and general elections.

Dimino has made several calls to the board of elections, even sending her father’s death certificate on more than one occasion, but said he is still on the registration list.

“If I’m getting these, there must be in NYC alone hundreds maybe thousands of these going out to dead people. What are they doing with them? Are they shredding them, or ripping them up, or are people just mailing them in?” she said.

CBS2 reached out to the board of elections for comment but have not heard back yet.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Abandoned Fresh Meadows property to be sold at auction

From the Queens Chronicle:

An abandoned Fresh Meadows home will finally go up on the auction block after laying untouched for more than 10 years, state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) announced in a statement last Friday.

“I am extremely happy to be able to tell the community today that as a result of the relentless efforts of my office and the incredible help of the public administrator this property is no longer going to haunt the community,” the senator said.

The house, located at 50-19 175 Place, will be auctioned by the Public Administrator on Dec. 7 starting at 11:00 a.m. at the Surrogates Court, located at 88-11 Sutphin Blvd., Courtroom 62.

If anyone is interested in buying the property, you can go to or call (718) 526-5037.

Someone in power finally gets it?

From the Queens Chronicle:

South Corona can’t take it anymore.

That was the message on Monday when Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights), state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst), Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens, Bronx) and Community Board 4 District Manager Christian Cassagnol gathered outside PS 16 to call on the City Planning Commission to look into downzoning the overtaxed neighborhood.

“Corona is growing. Old one- and two- family homes are being replaced by multifamily dwellings and buildings,” Peralta said. “Simply put, development is going too fast right here in South Corona and that is making things very difficult for residents seeking better services and students seeking a quality education.”

According to the lawmakers, the area’s infrastructure network simply cannot keep up with the seemingly never ending construction of multifamily developments.

Fire and police units are already stretched thin and parking is incredibly scarce, they said, but it is the sheer lack of school space that is hurting the community the most.

AirBnB bill signed by Cuomo

From NY1:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation on Friday designed to crack down on the online advertising of multi-family dwellings in New York City — a measure seen aimed at limiting the popular online rental service Airbnb.

The bill’s approval is a win for affordable housing advocates who have decried the impact Airbnb has had in New York City. It is also a win for the Hotel Trades Council, a small but politically influential labor union that has backed efforts to regulate Airbnb.

And the legislation was backed by the Real Estate Board of New York, a monied and influential coalition of property owners in New York City.

“This legislation is an important step toward stopping illegal behavior that takes precious housing units off the market, threatens hotel workers’ jobs and hurts the quality of life for residents in our City’s multifamily buildings,” said John Banks, III, President of the Real Estate Board of New York. “We would like to thank the Governor as well as the members of the State Senate and Assembly for addressing this critical issue.”

Airbnb, meanwhile, has signaled on Friday afternoon it will file a lawsuit to challenge the measure.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Homeless family joins anti-shelter rally, tells de Blasio to stop lying

From PIX11:

More than 100 demonstrators, along with bipartisan coalition of three state senators and two city Council Members, stood at the steps of City Hall Friday to speak out on Mayor Bill de Blasio and DHS Commissioner Steven Banks' mismanagement of the homeless crisis.

"Dump the dope from Park Slope! Dump the dope from Park Slope!" they chanted loudly. The chants have echoed in the outer boroughs in recent months and were heard loud and clear Friday morning.

One of the demonstrators at the rally, Alan Diaz, is a working father of two children. He also has been homeless for two years.

"The system is only getting worse," Diaz said.

The evidence is all around the city's landscape with cardboard, shopping carts and mini-encampments becoming more prevalent.

PIX 11 News asked Diaz if he had any message for Mayor de Blasio considering his office was a few yards behind him.

"To make a change, to make the system better, to stop saying that is better and actually make it better. And stop lying to the people and tell them the truth," Diaz said.

A Mayor's Office spokeswoman responded for the Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Banks in an email statement:

“Local elected officials should have the courage to take on this problem with the mayor, rather than rally against housing homeless children in their communities.”

Raw videos from rally can be watched here.

College Point concerned about pipe placement

From the Queens Tribune:

Nearly 100 College Point residents gathered in MacNeil Park on Saturday to protest the Department of Environmental Protection’s plan to build a stormwater outfall pipe in what environmentalists have said is a sensitive area.

The area in question contains wetlands that a local environmental organization called the Coastal Preservation Network (CPN), which called for the protests, has been working on restoring for nearly a decade. Over the years, CPN has orchestrated volunteer clean-ups of the waterfront area, planted sea grasses and installed oyster reefs to help the area thrive.

The pipe is part of a $132 million infrastructure project, funded by DEP and being constructed by the Department of Design and Construction. The stated goal of the project is to reduce sewer drainage into Flushing Bay and the Upper East River. Currently, three combined sewer outfalls overflow into Flushing Bay during heavy storms, flooding the area with untreated sewage mixed with rainwater.

The new outfall will be in a different section of the park, and will contain only stormwater—no sewage.

“DEP is investing more than $130 million to permanently end the annual discharge of nearly 50 million gallons of pollution into the waters surrounding College Point,” said DEP in a statement. “Contrary to the claims, it is quite clear that this work will significantly improve water quality and the health of nearby wetlands and oysters.”

Kathryn Cervino of the Coastal Preservation Network, the organization that organized the “Day of Outrage,” said that the efforts are an improvement for the overall health of Flushing Bay and the Upper East River. However, Cervino argued, by moving the location of the outfall, it could now overflow into the wetlands. And while the new overflow is ostensibly just stormwater, Cervino explained that during heavy storms, stormwater often picks up contaminants from the streets, like asphalt debris, road salt, deicing chemicals and oil from vehicles.

“It still has a lot of drawbacks for the wetlands,” she said. “We just want there to be some safeguards so that all our work hasn’t been in vain.”

A Frank Lloyd Crap special?

You might want to check out the progress of the construction of the Hunters Point Library over at Curbed. The photos are quite something.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Build-It-Back deadline will be missed

From NBC:

The "Build it Back" program will not make its goal to rebuild Sandy-ravaged homes by the end of the year. Pei-Sze Cheng reports.

Willets Point businesses may get evicted from the Bronx

From NY1:

An 80,000-square-foot warehouse in the South Bronx was just renovated.

It was supposed to house a collection of 45 auto-repair businesses, but it stands empty. There is not a car in sight.

For years, the 45 businesses operated in the shadow of Shea Stadium, and then Citi Field, in Willets Point, Queens. But Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration wanted them out to make way for a $3 billion residential and retail development. The city paid them $7.6 million to move to the South Bronx, but their money ran out before their new home - that warehouse - was completed.

The 45 businesses operate as the Sunrise Cooperative. Their money gone, the businesses face eviction by the owner of the warehouse, but they have filed for bankruptcy hoping to prevent that. They want the city's Economic Development Corporation to provide $3 million more so they can pay their bills and finish construction.

And the auto workers aren't asking for a handout. They are willing to pay the city back to simply complete the project.

But the EDC tells NY1 the businesses should look elsewhere to borrow money.

Salamanca says it's the city's responsibility to help these mostly immigrant businesses.

"These businesses didn't ask to be put in this position," he said.

Electeds knew about Queens shelter plan in 2014 - did nothing

During a debate held in Rockaway on Wednesday evening, Joseph Addabbo revealed that Queens elected officials were told by Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Emma Wolfe at a meeting in 2014 that Queens was about to be bombarded with homeless shelters because we didn't have "our fair share" of them.

These fantastic representatives of ours strangely sat on this information and allowed the rollout to happen rather than raise holy hell in an effort to stop it. And they think they deserve re-election?

In fairness, the response of the challenger, Mike Conigliaro, is presented.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Elizabeth Crowley knew about Maspeth shelter in JUNE, told no one

Something a bit earth-shattering - at least if you live in Maspeth - happened last night at Borough Hall. As you are likely aware, DHS Commissioner Steven Banks gave a presentation to the Borough Board. He also took questions from the board members. Elizabeth Crowley got into it with him. He then responded by stating, "When I met with you in private in June and explained to you what our plan would be, I never said any of the things that you said." You can hear the exchange yourself by downloading the file from here. The exchange begins at 0:56:06.

So, despite what Crowley, Addabbo and Markey would like everyone to believe, this was known about long before that secret Maspeth Library meeting where she acted surprised and outraged in front of members of the community board and the community at large. And why would she meet with Banks privately, if not to make a deal?

John Ciafone redefines "plaza"

This property has a great history of complaints. One of the most entertaining we have come across.
Definition of plaza per Merriam Webster:

Full Definition of plaza
a : a public square in a city or town
b : an open area usually located near urban buildings and often featuring walkways, trees and shrubs, places to sit, and sometimes shops
: a place on a thoroughfare (as a turnpike) at which all traffic must temporarily stop (as to pay tolls)
: an area adjacent to an expressway which has service facilities (as a restaurant, gas station, and restrooms)
: shopping center

Preet scrutinizing campaign donors

From the NY Times:

A federal investigation into Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign fund-raising has zeroed in on whether donations were exchanged for beneficial city action in about a half-dozen cases, according to people with knowledge of the inquiry.

The matters under scrutiny, the people said, involve, among others, a company whose soundstages are used to film television shows such as “The Good Wife” and “Blue Bloods” that wanted to expand its operations, and that depends on city permits; those connected to a lucrative development deal on the site of a former hospital that needed city approvals; a popular restaurant and wedding site that was negotiating a new lease with the city; and a garbage bag company seeking a city contract.

Some of the earliest and most generous donors to the Campaign for One New York are among those whose contributions — along with their actions and those of the mayor and members of his administration and campaign staff — are under scrutiny, several people with knowledge of the inquiry said.

The first two donations to the group, made on Jan. 24, 2014, just weeks after Mr. de Blasio was sworn in, were for $25,000 each and came from Broadway Stages, the soundstage company seeking to expand, and the company’s president, Gina Argento.

By then, Ms. Argento and her company were well known to the mayor. She was the second-largest bundler of contributions for his 2013 run — city records show she brought in over $100,000 for the campaign and transition — and even spent $250 to rent the costumes that Mr. de Blasio and his wife, Chirlane McCray, wore at a 2014 Halloween party for children at Gracie Mansion. (The company said it also paid for costumes for more than 100 children from homeless shelters who attended the party.)

One of Ms. Argento’s companies also gave $10,000 to the Putnam County Democratic Committee in October 2014, when the mayor was urging his donors to support Democratic efforts to wrest control of the State Senate.

Broadway Stages also gave $35,000 to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC, a charity that is led by Ms. McCray. Ms. Argento served on the group’s advisory board until July.

John J. Ciafone, a lawyer who is married to Ms. Argento and represents her and Broadway Stages, would not confirm the existence of a federal inquiry, but said that neither she nor the company had engaged in wrongdoing. Neither, he said, had sought help from the administration for Broadway Stages’ expansion plans, which include new soundstages in Brooklyn and on Staten Island, in exchange for its contributions.

“Broadway Stages and Gina Argento has not gotten a penny from the city for any of these projects — not a penny!” he said.

Mr. Ciafone suggested that his wife and the company had been pressured to donate. Their business, he said, relied directly on the discretion of the mayor’s office, which issues film permits from the film commissioner.

“They put a lot of pressure on people like Broadway Stages and I’m sure the other film people to give money to the mayor, to give money to C.O.N.Y.,” he said, referring to the mayor’s nonprofit.

Mr. Ciafone said there could be “repercussions in terms of not contributing,” adding, “People don’t understand that.”

Mr. Ciafone said the pressure had not come from Mr. de Blasio himself, but rather “from several people — fund-raisers, staff fund-raisers, several people on behalf of the mayor” whom he could not name.

He also denied suggestions that Ms. Argento had engaged in a so-called straw donor scheme, saying Mr. de Blasio’s campaign had attributed donors to her whom he said she had not solicited.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

One night only...Steven Banks!

QUEENS, NY – The Queens Borough Board, chaired by Borough President Melinda Katz, will hear a presentation from Steven Banks, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Social Services, during the Board’s meeting on Wednesday, October 19, at 5:30 PM in Queens Borough Hall. Commissioner Banks will discuss the state of homelessness in Queens.

WHAT: Borough Board to Review the State of Homelessness in Queens with Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks
WHEN: Wednesday, October 19, 2016 at 5:30 PM
WHERE: Queens Borough Hall, 120-55 Queens Boulevard in Kew Gardens
WHO: MELINDA KATZ, Queens Borough President, Members of the QUEENS BOROUGH BOARD
STEVEN BANKS, Commissioner, New York City Department of Social Services

Maybe someone can ask him about this, from the NY Times, August 28, 1991:
Steve Banks, of the Legal Aid Society, called the commercial hotel alternative "poorly conceived."

"For the city to be using the Yellow Pages to find commercial hotels for families flies in the face of everything we know about how to solve this problem," said Mr. Banks.

Feds amend flood maps

From Crains:

Federal officials have agreed to amend New York City's flood maps a year after the de Blasio administration filed an appeal on the grounds the charts were too pessimistic.

The new maps will likely shrink the boundaries that dictate who must purchase flood insurance, and may prescribe lower flood elevations, which would save some building owners money in flood-insurance premiums.

"Our city needs precise flood maps that reflect real risks, both today and years from now—and we have to do that fairly," Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement.

Flood insurance is required for any homeowner in a flood zone with a federally backed mortgage, but for decades the government subsidized premiums, which came back to haunt the National Flood Insurance Program after payouts from a series of catastrophic storms depleted its cash reserves.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Homeless shelters opening in Queens at breakneck pace

From PIX11:

More than 100 people packed a Knights of Columbus hall to protest a move by the owner of the Playland Motel to house homeless families starting last Friday.

Cayuga Capital, owners of the space which includes a popular bar, restaurant and hotel, signed a deal with the Department of Homeless Services to rent its rooms to homeless families. Community members say no one was aware of the deal until after it happened.

"I don't know if it was middle of the night," City Councilmember Eric Ulrich, "people want to know how many homeless are here, what services are being provided, how many more are coming."

All the city's Department of Homeless Services would say is there is no plan to convert the location into a permanent shelter.


The best part of this is that taxpayers payed for empty rooms there.

East Elmhurst is also getting yet another shelter.

Friends, Queens is under siege by this administration. Friday morning, let them know that we aren't going to take it. Join the rally at City Hall.

Old Drake Theater destroyed

After several flips, the former Drake Theater, which later became part of Abbracciamento's Restaurant, has been demolished, along with the rest of the blockfront. A residential tower is expected to take its place.
Photos by Carmen Diaz

Developments in Crowley vs. Spotorno congressional race

Sinatra impersonator vs. Travolta impersonator

Monday, October 17, 2016

Flushing Meadows has most park crime

From PIX11:

The head of New York City Park Advocates is concerned about what he sees as an alarming increase in crimes in New York City Parks for the first half of 2016 compared to the same six-month period of 2015.

"I am not surprised," Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates, told PIX11 News. "I have been calling for an increase in police presence."

Specifically, according to NYPD CompStat numbers, there was a 36 percent increase in the number of robberies, 156 in all. Also a 24 percent upward trend in assaults, 94 of them, and a whopping 67 percent increase in grand larcenies, total of 194.

"That's almost a 49 percent increase," Croft said. "That's astronomical and alarming."

Central Park isn't the leader in crimes, according to the statistics.

That dubious distinction goes to Flushing Meadows Corona Park, which has seen 25 grand larcenies, four robberies and a felony assault in the first half of this year.

2nd homeless resident seeks help from protesters

This weekend, there was a large protest in Sunset Park to oppose the opening of 3 homeless shelters within blocks of each other. The group took a side trip to a men's shelter on 49th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues. There, they were greeted by a shelter resident who revealed that he and the other residents feel abandoned because they are not receiving services to help them, like job assistance. He also mentions that the food is horrible.

These sentiments echo those of a shelter resident in Floral Park.

From what I understand, an exchange of information took place and at least 2 protesters are working on getting this man help.

De Blasio goes full Bloomberg for a day

From Patch:

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, who billed himself during the election as a champion for the poor and an absolute anti-Bloomberg, was escorted either to or from Prospect Park early Friday evening by a helicopter belonging to the New York City Police Department, the department confirmed to Patch.

Witnesses were confused to see a police helicopter landing in a baseball field near the southwest end of the park, just after 5 p.m.:

An NYPD spokeswoman said she didn't know why de Blasio was traveling in an NYPD helicopter Friday. The mayor's press office did not immediately return a request for comment.

Mayor's office sends stooge to harass protesters on Twitter

Mayor de Blasio sent his spokeswoman, Aja Worthy-Davis, to a joint protest by multiple civic groups in Sunset Park against his homeless policies. She followed the protesters around from hotel to hotel (they visited 4 all together) and live tweeted the event.

Delvis Valdes called Aja Worthy-Davis out for not using his name in her tweet.

Mayoral spokeswoman Aja Worthy-Davis:
Protesters then got really worked up and told her off.

Robert Holden reveals that the city tried to deny a sound permit for the event until renowned civil rights attorney Norman Siegel intervened.

Curtis Sliwa put in his two cents.

Phil Wong from Elmhurst United charged that the homeless crisis is intentional.

Michael D.D. White, a well-respected urban planner, who authors Noticing New York and is leading Citizens Defending Libraries, had a lot to say about "following the money".

Ramon Acevedo, member of Brooklyn CB7, called for an investigation into the administration and those profiteering off the homeless.

Mr. Valdes led the chants of "Crowley's gotta go" and "Menchaca's gotta go".

After the protest in Sunset Park was over, the group moved to Windsor Terrace to pay a second visit to DHS Commissioner Steve Banks.

By the way, Aja makes a pretty penny harassing protesters on Twitter.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Local church will bury 150-year old mummy

St. Mark
African Methodist Episcopal Church
95-18 Northern Blvd., Jackson Heights, New York 11372
Phone: 718-899-3306             Fax: 718-899-1636
Rev. Kimberly L. Detherage, Esq., Pastor
After almost five years of testing, investigation and research, the 150-year old mummy, the Iron Coffin Lady, uncovered at a construction site that was once the graveyard on the first site of today’s Saint Mark African Methodist Episcopal Church, will be commemorated, memorialized and buried on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, November 5th, 6th and 7th. The officers and members of St. Mark have planned a memorial reception, traditional funeral and burial befitting this historic figure who is a past parishioner of the church.

The memorial reception will commence at 11am Saturday, November 5th and feature exhibits and presentations that interweave the history of African American burial grounds and the church’s history with the possible story of the Iron Coffin Lady’s past life. Donations to offset the costs of the burial, memorial park creation and maintenance are encouraged and greatly appreciated.

Speakers will include archaeologist Scott Warnash, PhD, who was working out of the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office identifying 9/11 remains when he was called to the site in Queens to examine what was thought to be a murder victim’s remains. Warnash, who has made an extensive study of iron coffins and the remains found inside them, will speak on their history as well as the possible identification of the Iron Coffin lady through her DNA and artifacts.

Sandra Arnold of the Periwinkle Project, named for the flower found in many ancient African American burial grounds and operating out of Brown University, is an ongoing documenter of African American graveyards will address the commonalities and peculiarities of these graveyards as well as the database she is compiling of these sites.

Professor Gerald Conlogue, PhD, of Quinnipiac University, who has extensively studied and scanned the mummified remains, will relate his findings on the Iron Coffin Lady. There will also be a report of research findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The traditional funeral will be on Sunday, November 6th at 4pm at St. Mark AME Church on Northern Boulevard and 96th Street in Queens. The Iron Coffin Lady will be eulogized by St. Mark’s Pastor Kimberly L. Detherage, Esquire, and the service will feature tributes from the church family as well as officials of the AME Church. The funeral follows the church’s morning worship service.

The Iron Coffin Lady will be buried at Flushing Cemetery in Flushing, Queens from St Mark Church. The procession will leave St. Mark on Monday, November 7th at 9:30 am, and the Iron Coffin Lady will be re-interred and her body finally laid to rest.

They uncovered a slave grave site in Manhattan and it became a national park.
They uncovered one in Queens and it became condos.
Welcome to the World's Borough!

Queensboro Plaza subway from 1940 to 1960

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Lawn gone at Steinway Mansion

Photos from George the Atheist

Rockaway hipster hotel becomes homeless shelter

From DNA Info:

The hipster-darling Playland Motel will close on Nov. 1, and the second-floor rooms will be rented to the Department of Homeless Services to house residents, ​officials said.

The owners of the space, which includes a bar, restaurant and hotel rooms, signed a deal with DHS to rent its rooms to homeless families since at least Monday, an official said.

An employee of the motel said the city booked a block of rooms for 10 days this past Monday, but it's not clear how many families are staying at the motel, which only has around a dozen rooms.


Statement from Councilman Ulrich on Mayor de Blasio's Latest Backroom Deal

"Instead of fulfilling his pledge to end the use of hotels to shelter people who have fallen on hard times, Mayor de Blasio quietly signed a deal to use Playland Motel in Rockaway Beach as a homeless facility. I am outraged. My constituents - and all New Yorkers - deserve better.

"Mayor de Blasio's so-called progressive agenda has caused the homeless population to skyrocket. The time has come for this administration to put forth real and meaningful solutions that will actually help people find permanent housing and rebuild their lives. The Playland Motel is not the right answer."

Illegal demo halted in Brooklyn

Photo by Georgine Benvenuto
From Brooklyn Daily:

The city has caught yet another contractor doing illegal construction in Bay Ridge. Workers from Manhattan contractor Fortuna Design and Construction Inc. got a permit to build a new four-story apartment building between Third and Fourth avenues but had zero approval from the city to knock down the two-story house that was already there, according to a spokesman with the Department of Buildings. They took down all but one wall, shocking locals who worry unsanctioned deconstruction could be harmful to nearby buildings — or neighbors’ health.

“I was stunned when I heard about this,” said Josephine Beckmann, district manager of Community Board 10. “Virtually the entire building was torn down without a permit. How is that done safely if there is no permit?”

Block residents and Beckmann herself complained to the city about the dubious demolition, so the Department of Buildings slapped workers with a stop-work order and issued a violation for the illicit tear-down, according to a buildings department spokesman. The Environmental Control Board will determine a penalty for the illegally abolished abode at an upcoming hearing, the rep said.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Mayor's office can't keep its lies straight

Now the provider pulled out of the proposal? And here we thought it was Harshad Patel, the hotel owner, who did. At least that's what Steven Banks said to the press a day after his spokesperson said the city backed out after local opposition.

Lies, lies
I can't believe a word you say
Lies, lies, are gonna make you sad someday

Kids falling into sinkhole in South Ozone Park

From PIX11:

Imran Baksh says he’s been complaining for 5 years to city agencies that the front of his home is sinking.

Baksh, who lives on 122nd Street in South Ozone Park, Queens, says what started as a little hole has been getting progressively worse.

There are now large holes in the ground surrounding the curb and sidewalk, the land under the sidewalk is eroding, the sidewalk itself is cracked and sloping, and the sinking has pulled the front railing away from the house. In the middle of the road, it is cracked and slopes towards his home and sidewalk.

Imran and his neighbor have tried filling in the holes and shoring up the curb and the sidewalk , but those fixes don’t last. It’s not long before the holes are back and deeper than ever.

One of their concerns is there’s a school at the end of the block and when the kids are dismissed, they walk right past the sinking area, where it would be easy for them to slip off the edge of the sidewalk and into the holes. In fact, one of his neighbors has two children who both have fallen into the holes when playing in the area.

Abandoned Bayside house is a concern

From the Times Ledger:

An abandoned property in Bayside Hills has the neighboring residents itching with discomfort.

The home at 215-06 49th Ave. has sat for four years in disrepair with three different building permits posted on the construction fence. The latest is an Alt-1 permit issued in April 2016 for work on the cellar and the second and third floors. There is currently a stop work order on the building for civil penalties due on multiple violations, the Department of Buildings site shows.

The property, however, shows no signs of human intervention. Weeds have grown above the level of the fence and mosquitoes have established dominance in the air while raccoons terrorize people just taking their garbage out to the street at night.

State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) stood with Bayside Hills Civic Association President Michael Feiner and about 15 residents last Friday to discuss the poor quality of life for neighbors resulting from the neglect and asked the city Department of Health and Hygiene, Buildings and Sanitation to act in the interest of public health and safety.

Residents have reached out to the owner, known by the name Woei Chen Lee, repeatedly without success.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Democratic election commissioner thinks "there is a lot of voter fraud"

From the NY Post:

The Manhattan Democratic representative on the city’s Board of Elections was caught on a secret video slamming Mayor Bill de Blasio’s municipal ID program as contributing to “all kinds of fraud” — including at the polls.

“He gave out ID cards, de Blasio. That’s in lieu of a driver’s license, but you can use it for anything,” Commissioner Alan Schulkin said in the undercover video recorded by a muckraker for conservative nonprofit Project Veritas.

“But they didn’t vet people to see who they really are. Anybody can go in there and say, ‘I am Joe Smith, I want an ID card,’ ” he said in the bombshell tape.

When government breaks bad

The de Blasio administration put out the following statement on Monday:
"Due to local opposition to housing homeless New Yorkers, we have not been able to convert this site into a full shelter at this time. We are renting rooms for employed single adults and providing onsite services and security.”
Then they didn't like the coverage that they received, which indicated that they caved. So they hastily arranged a press conference in the lobby of City Hall where Steven Banks answered questions. He said the following:
"We moved forward with our plan to put homeless New Yorkers in Maspeth last night. The property owner would not permit us to go forward with our full plan to use the full building."
Now, our blog has pointed the following out before, but it's worth revisiting.

According to the city's own RFP, they
1) do not target specific neighborhoods in which to open shelters and
2) the city reviews RFP responses from service providers and makes a determination
From DHS:

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.

Yet in Maspeth, the city held 2 public hearings and announced an opening date for a shelter before they had a viable RFP response from Acacia Network. Then they tried to pressure the owner after he said he wasn't interested. So they most certainly targeted Maspeth and broke their own rules for siting shelters.