Wednesday, November 30, 2016

City doesn't have permission to house homeless at Maspeth hotel

From Crains:

The owner of a controversial Queens hotel site that's being used as a homeless shelter is suing the hotel's operator, opening up a second legal battle that threatens to undermine Mayor Bill de Blasio's plans to house the city's homeless.

Harshad Patel runs the Holiday Inn Express at 59-40 55th Road in Maspeth. This summer, he announced plans to lease rooms to the city's Department of Homeless Services for use as temporary housing. The news prompted boisterous protests from local residents, which were strongly condemned by the de Blasio administration.

While Patel built and now runs the hotel, his firm, New Ram Realty, leases the land it sits on from Kimcomatt Realty Corp. That company, which is run by Barry Haskell, denied Patel's Aug. 25 request to rent the rooms in bulk to the administration, citing a clause in the ground lease that permits rooms to be rented only to hotel guests.

As the backlash over the shelter plans reached a crescendo in early September, Patel told media outlets that he was backing off the deal due to community opposition. But the new lawsuit alleges that shortly thereafter, New Ram Realty quietly worked out an agreement to rent the rooms to the city anyway, in a deal that was specifically structured to circumvent the use restrictions in the ground lease.

On Oct. 10, around 30 homeless adults were moved into the hotel. About two weeks later, Kimcomatt filed the lawsuit in Queens Supreme Court, asking a judge to block any more homeless individuals from moving into the building, and to rule that New Ram is in violation of its lease. "The potential profit to New Ram must have been too great to turn down," the suit said, "because in blatant disregard of the terms of its lease and in contradiction to its representations to the community, New Ram has begun the conversion of the hotel to a homeless shelter."

Complaint against New Ram Realty, owner of the Maspeth Holiday Inn by crainsnewyork on Scribd

Swans saved - for now

From Sheepshead Bites:

Mute swans have a new look on life now that a bill was passed by Governor Andrew Cuomo ending the Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) prohibition of the species, according to State Assemblymember Steven Cymbrowitz, who wrote the bill.

Cymbrowitz has doggedly tried to place a moratorium on the state’s plan to cull New York’s mute swan population — which the DEC targeted for extermination in 2013. Governor Andrew Cuomo has twice vetoed legislation that would halt the DEC’s effort to eliminate the swans, which the agency says are an invasive species that threaten local ecosystems.

“The people have spoken and I’m pleased that the Governor has listened,” Cymbrowitz said. “Tens of thousands of New Yorkers signed petitions, sent letters and emails to the Governor’s office, and, in my community, called my office to tell me how much they enjoy watching the swans in Sheepshead Bay and Manhattan Beach. People were very vocal about their support of this bill, and I have to believe it made all the difference.”

The bill establishes a two-year moratorium on the DEC’s plan to manage the mute swan population, which were introduced to North America from Europe in the 1800s. It also requires the agency favor non-lethal management techniques and provides stronger evidence that the swans endanger ecosystems.

BQE to undergo 5-year overhaul

From CBS 2:

The Brooklyn-Queens Expressway is slated for a major rehabilitation project — one that could cause potential traffic headaches for the thousands of commuters that traverse the aged outer-borough roadway every day.

The ambitious $1.7 billion undertaking aims to repair a 1.5 mile stretch of the highway, which features 21 concrete and steel bridges towering over city streets, WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported.

“The BQE project, what we’re calling “Sands To Atlantic,” is a huge, challenging, almost once-in-a-lifetime project,” Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said.

According to the DOT, the rehabilitation plan will work to revitalize the roadway’s crumbling, decades-old infrastructure, repair potholes and improve road accessibility.

The project is slated to begin in two years and will take around five years to complete, Trottenberg said.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Van Bramer wants weekend public access to City Hall

From the Daily News:

City Hall is where the government does the people's business — but it's awfully hard for the people to come in and take a look.

A new bill by City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer would change that, requiring City Hall to be open to the public on weekends.

“It’s shocking in some ways that this building is not accessible to the public,” said Van Bramer (D-Queens), who chairs the cultural affairs committee. “It’s one of the most important structures in all of New York City, and you have people who come to the city, people who live in the city, who tells me they have never been here, they have never seen it.”

The legislation, which will be introduced Tuesday, would require the Department of Citywide Administrative Services to open the building to all comers on Saturdays, Sundays, or both.

Will diners soon be a thing of the past?

From LIC Post:

The number of diners across New York City is on the decline and it is not just Manhattan establishments that are closing, according to the New York Times.

Health-department records show that there are half as many diners in New York as there were just 20 years ago, reported the Times. In fact, there were 398 diners last year as compared to 1,000 a generation ago.

The article stated that the diners everywhere are coming under pressure.

“Manhattan has certainly seen more diner closings than other boroughs,” according to the Times. “That said, with rising costs in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods, classic diners like the Neptune and Bel Aire, both in Astoria, Queens, could soon be under threat.”

Monday, November 28, 2016

More pedestrians and cyclists dead this year

From the Daily News:

Deaths of the most vulnerable users of city streets — pedestrians and cyclists — are outpacing fatalities from 2015, even as a drop in the number of motorists killed have held the death toll flat, according to the latest figures.

There were 202 fatalities this year through Nov. 20 — exactly as many people who died in 2015 over the same period.

But crash stats show that more pedestrians and cyclists are being killed than last year at this time under Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero Action Plan meant to end traffic deaths and injuries.

There were 124 pedestrians and 17 cyclists killed, compared to the 115 pedestrians and 14 cyclists cut down over the same period in 2015, according to city Department of Transportation figures.

At the same time, fewer people in cars and on motorcycles died this year — 61, compared to 73 over the same period last year.

Strategists think de Blasio is beatable

The Daily News polled some strategists and they all think BdB can be beaten. See what they said...

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Dumped on Jamaica lot cleaned up

For months residents had been calling on local leaders to clean the garbage; at James Fobb's property; as always residents were ignored. That was until Monday when my comrade and I exposed the garbage and the political gangsters.

One day later, Nov. 22nd. supporters were calling me, saying that sanitation workers were out in full force. At long last the disastrous garbage-filled, animal infested, garage was cleaned.

It was a task to remove: couch, tv, chairs, boxes, mattresses, pieces of bed rails, several bag of garbage, other items and of course the shitty exposed toilet.

Queens political gangsters should hide their heads in shame. They call themselves political leaders; but they are only monitors. These democ(rats) only monitor the problems. They are incapable of fixing problems.

During the campaign, borough president, Katz said that she will "hit the ground running from day one." Well, the liar has been on her throne for years and black people are still suffering. The other do nothing, Senator Comrie is a disgrace to the black community. All the black leaders have: FOOLED, FAILED & FORGOTTEN black people.

However, my comrade, supporters and I will keep the fire up their asses. We will hold them accountable.

Boranian, you are in charge of constituents services; at Katz's office. You are a paid employee. We do not want favours, just do your damn job. If you do not, you will be in misery. Your boss is the ring leader of the gangsters. For this reason, we will keep on your ass. Don't like it, then LEAVE our community.
Early this morning a cat dropped by for breakfast; not a crumb was available.

A woman was looking on saying, "I am amazed, what a transformation"

Katz, brace yourself for the next cleanup. We will keep you abreast of the stinking situation.

P. Hazel: Social Media Journalist for Justice.

PS: Still wondering how the hell an outsider won the presidency! Get therapy.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Smaller parking lot breaks ground at Borough Hall

From the Queens Tribune:

After a long delay, frustrated commuters to Borough Hall finally have an end in sight. The $8.5 million project will be finished in fall 2017.

“I’m pleased to break ground on this municipal lot, which will provide Queens residents a new sustainable space to access Queens Borough Hall and other government buildings nearby, such as the post office and Queens County Criminal Court,” said Department of Design and Construction (DDC) Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora. “In support of Mayor de Blasio’s vision for a healthy city, the lot is planned to be bicycle friendly and will feature ample green space once completed.”

“The long-awaited, new municipal parking lot at Queens Borough Hall will alleviate current parking and traffic issues in the neighborhood and allow for more efficient processing of government business, while also offering numerous modern amenities, including charging stations for electric vehicles,” said Borough President Melinda Katz.

The crumbling garage was demolished this past July. Sharon Lee, a spokesperson for Katz, stated that there will be an “at grade (flat, not elevated) street-level municipal parking lot.”

The project was initially slated to be finished last fall, but had been extended for one year in October 2015.

The parking garage, which had approximately 500 spaces, was shut down in September 2014 after the city engineers realized it was too dangerous to keep open. The lot was mainly used by jurors and employees who needed all-day parking, a need the city has yet to fill.

The new parking lot will have spaces for 302 automobiles. The location of the lot is conducive to streamlined pedestrian access to Queens Borough Hall and the Helen Marshall Cultural Center, another DDC project, which was ceremonially opened in September. The municipal lot will also be the new home of over 120 species of plants and trees, bringing greenery for residents and employees to enjoy when they come to Borough Hall.

The AirBnB situation in Queens

From the Times Ledger:

The confrontation between Airbnb and New York City continues to fester, as hosts who list rentals await the possible enforcement of a law banning the advertisement of short-term rentals within the five boroughs.

There are 3,657 Airbnb active listings in Queens as of Nov. 1, according to a report released from Airbnb, including listings for entire homes, as well as private rooms or shared spaces.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo approved legislation in late October barring hosts from advertising units for less than 30 days if those hosts are not in the building with the guests. The fees can range as high as $7,500, and Airbnb subsequently sued Mayor Bill de Blasio, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and the city of New York to overturn the instilled ban. The bill pertains to whole homes and apartments in buildings with three or more units.

The rental of units for less than 30 days in multi-unit buildings has been illegal since 2010, but the city intends to enforce a ban on publicizing the rentals.

The average Airbnb unit in Queens is available for 136 nights per year, according to an Inside Airbnb analysis of the number of reviews left by renters. About 39 percent of the Queens listings are from hosts with multiple listings of units, according to the data, and the site cautions that it is possible they are “running a business without a license and not paying taxes, and if they are renting out an entire home or apartment and aren’t present, are probably doing so illegally.”

Is it time for the P.A. to go?

From the NY Observer:

Pop Quiz: If New York City’s mayor steps down, who succeeds him? The correct answer is the public advocate, and for the record, the current public advocate is Letitia James, a former City Council member from Brooklyn.

James collected a total of 119,604 votes in the Democratic primary runoff of 2013 when she beat State Senator Daniel Squadron. That is just shy of 4 percent of the 3 million registered, active Democrats in New York City. And James’ name recognition should surely have improved since then: After all, the role of public advocate is about self-promotion—if it is about anything at all.

In fact, that is all the job is about. It has no power, a tiny budget and few statutory mandates. The public advocate can introduce legislation in the City Council, but the holder of the office cannot vote in that chamber. She can make appointments to eight different boards, councils and advisory groups—but none of any real consequence. And the office’s budget of $2.3 million annually is not even rounding error in a total city budget of $78 billion.

The office of public advocate was created in 1993 when the City Council voted to rename the position of president of the City Council. That position was purely ceremonial, a remnant of the old City Board of Estimate, which was eliminated in 1989 by Charter revisions after the United States Supreme Court declared it was a violation of “one man, one vote.” No one expected the position to last. But it did, largely because the first two incumbents were capable and ambitious.

James may well be a serious person with policy insights and leadership skills. Unfortunately, none of that was readily apparent at the New York Law School breakfast. Instead, attendees were treated to vacuous remarks and a plea for more funding for her office. Claiming she wanted to be the people’s watchdog of city services, she seemed to conveniently forget that two different entities already provide that functions: the Comptroller and the Department of Investigation. Her call for undefined “forensic audits” seemed to emerge half-baked from an unproduced TV pilot: “CSI: City Agency.”

It is time to pull the plug: We really don’t need a public advocate whose principal role seems to be self-promotion and the unspoken hope that the mayor croaks or gets indicted.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Park Service looking to refurbish Jacob Riis Bathhouse

From CBS 2:

With colder weather and the holidays upon us, you may not be thinking about your summer beach plans.

But as CBS2’s Brian Conybeare reported, the National Park Service is.

In fact, the agency is trying to restore the historic bathhouse on Rockaway Beach with the help of private investors.

The iconic bathhouse at Jacob Riis Park in Queens has been virtually abandoned for decades. Built in 1932, the art deco pavilion was a popular summer destination for New York’s working poor and immigrants – with restaurants, a surf shop, and a mile-long white sand beach.

But time, neglect, and storms took their toll.

The Park Service is now looking for bidders to reopen parts of the bathhouse with dining, concessions, arts, and an event space for next summer. But the second floor, which housed a Howard Johnson’s hotel in the 1960s, will obviously take much longer.

The second floor now looks like modern-day ruins, with crumbling ceilings and rotting bathrooms.

Impending election serves as great motivator for BdB

From the NY Times:

A patchwork of weeds, rusted refineries, dilapidated warehouses and pollution-soaked land along the East River in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn has long held the unfulfilled dream of local residents.

For more than a decade, New York City officials have promised to transform the industrial wasteland into a 28-acre park in exchange for neighborhood support for a rezoning that would allow the construction of luxury residential buildings in what was once a primarily working-class area.

In that time, as Williamsburg became a magnet for the wealthy and aspirational, only a portion of the promised Bushwick Inlet Park came to life. Acquiring the land from a host of owners proved to be difficult, fraying the patience of local residents. But this week, officials announced that the city had ended a standoff with the owner of the last 11-acre parcel needed to join the southern and northern ends of the park’s footprint, agreeing to pay $160 million for the property.

“It’s a damn miracle!” said Joe Mayock, 50, executive director of Open Space Alliance for North Brooklyn, one of several groups that haves pushed for the park. “This isn’t just about a park or even about a neighborhood — it’s about holding the city accountable as it continues to transform.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio praised the acquisition, calling it “an investment in the future of Brooklyn” and saying the price was fair.

“Our administration keeps its promises,” Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat, said in a statement. “When we commit to build a new park or a new school in a growing community, we deliver.”

Large Flushing parcel changes hands

From the Queens Tribune:

A long-defunct parcel of land located on Flushing’s waterfront will have a new owner, according to previously published reports.

On Nov. 16, The Real Deal reported that developer Chris Jiashu Xu, of the Corona-based United Construction & Development Group, is in contract to acquire the 3.7-acre site at 39-08 Janet Place, also known as 131-35 Roosevelt Ave., for over $100 million.

This particular site has a rocky history, including a brush with foreclosure and stalled development plans that have left it deserted and in disarray. Plans for a five-tower, mixed-use development designed by architect Ismael Levya were first developed in 2006, when the sellers—an investment group consisting of ABS Mangement & Development and Babad Management—first purchased the property. The plans are approved by the city, but the property remains barren.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving from Queens Crap!

City Hall let lobbyist help run the place

From NY1:

Mayor Bill de Blasio's office has released hundreds of pages of emails between the mayor, his top aides and Jonathan Rosen, a key unofficial adviser who city officials declared to be an "Agent of the City." NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.

Jonathan Rosen's influence extends deep inside City Hall in ways more extensive than previously known.

New emails released by the mayor show Rosen is invited to major policy meetings and included in high-level internal discussions.

But while he may be treated like a top City Hall advisor, he is far from an official one. He runs an influential private consulting firm, BerlinRosen, with clients who have business before the city, including powerful real estate firms. And the state now considers some of the work he does to be lobbying.

But that did not stop City Hall from including Rosen in an August 2014 meeting about the mayor's affordable housing agenda. He was the only non-city employee to attend.

Rosen was also asked to come to Gracie Mansion to discuss the city's strategy in Albany.

Government watchdog groups have criticized Rosen's close ties to the mayor and argued he and other outside consultants are part of a shadow city government.

Poor safety measures cited at Briarwood accident site

From the Daily News:

A Queens construction worker stood precariously atop a dangling I-beam before the 3-ton steel piece dropped without warning, killing him and a colleague, sources said.

City investigators were checking Wednesday whether Elizandro Enrique Ramos, 43, was wearing a harness or some other protection when he plunged to his death at the six-story building in Briarwood.

Building Department inspectors shut down the Queens project on Wednesday, citing the owners for failure to provide a safe work site — and for inadequate fall protection for workers.

Briarwood MP LLC was also rapped for failure to provide adequate exits on the unfinished building’s three lowest floors.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

2 workers die on Briarwood construction project

From Eyewitness News:

Two construction workers were killed after a steel beam fell on top of a crane's operator cab in Queens Tuesday.

It happened just after 12 p.m. near the intersection of 82nd Avenue and 134th Street in the Briarwood section, close to where the Van Wyck Expressway and the Grand Central Parkway intersect.

Department of Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler said the 6,500-pound beam dropped from the fourth floor of the building onto the crane.

Chandler said it appears the rigging rope may have failed while the beam was being lifted, causing the piece of steel to break loose and fall to the ground. Though, the investigation is still ongoing. Wind does not appear to be a factor in the accident.

"It was a 6,500-pound beam going up four stories. I would say the wind would not have a major factor on that," said Chandler.

The workers killed were identified as flag man Alessandro Ramos, 43, and crane operator George Smith, 47. Both were trapped in the wreckage and died at the scene.

Crains reports that this isn't the first work-related death for the contractor.

Bill may allow MTA to build contrary to zoning

From Curbed:

The MTA may be able to push forward unfettered development on the agency’s 656 properties throughout New York City should Governor Cuomo not sign a bill into law that amends ambiguous text within the city’s 2016 budget.

State law has traditionally read that, for “transportation purposes,” the MTA doesn’t have to comply with local zoning ordinances; but the definition of “transportation purposes” got a hefty expansion in April when the state budget was passed with a tweak to how those words are defined. Under the new definition, it includes not only infrastructure for trains and buses but also other developments that will help cover their costs by providing revenue.

Now, local lawmakers are worried that the cash-strapped organization may take advantage of the ambiguity to lease development rights at the sites to developers. As a result, historic preservation groups the Municipal Arts Society and Historic Districts Council are calling for Governor Cuomo to ratify the law that would restore the initial meaning of the clause by its deadline of November 28.

Under the new definition of “transportation purposes,” MAS says that the MTA’s 656 New York City-owned properties, as well as other properties owned by MTA in Long Island and the Hudson River Valley, would be opened up to unchecked development with a diminished public review process.

This includes 221 sites that are zoned for residential use within the city like 40 Quay Street in Brooklyn and 1190 Second Avenue in Manhattan. A series of case studies by the institution illustrate how the MTA would be able to build in extreme excess of what zoning laws allow should they so choose.

Reynoso suggests changes to rezoning process

From Crains:

An elected official is proposing major changes to the city's land-use process after community opposition led the City Council to reject two projects earlier this year.

The developments would have included about 375 affordable apartments, and more could soon be lost: Protesters recently shut down a meeting about a Williamsburg proposal that planned for 1,146 apartments, according to the developer, perhaps a third of them affordable.

Councilman Antonio Reynoso released a white paper Tuesday arguing for more community engagement whenever projects proposed by private developers need approval from the city. The idea is for developers to address local concerns early, thus tempering the sort of opposition that led lawmakers to denounce a 209-unit affordable development proposed for Sunnyside and a 355-unit building proposed for Inwood that would have been half affordable. The developer of the Sunnyside building withdrew its application before it could go to a vote, while the Inwood proposal was rejected by the City Council, which votes as a body on land-use matters but typically defers to the wishes of the local representative.

"Under my process, [the community's] concerns hopefully would have been known and addressed earlier," Reynoso said.

The white paper, which Reynoso characterized as a starting point for potentially broader reforms, outlines eight changes he believes would make the city's public review procedure less contentious. The biggest switch would be to publicize plans from private developers well before it is too late to change them.

Proposal from Council Member Antonio Reynoso by crainsnewyork on Scribd

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Jamaica dumping location is dirty again

"The Democrats have fooled, failed and forgotten black folks for decades. The garbage filled, abandoned garage is only one example. It has been the subject of complaints for years.

Cleanup Jamaica Queens group first ventured unto the premises more than two years ago. That triggered the borough president to contact sanitation and the property was cleaned a few times. Prior to that, all the politicians told residents that they cannot enter “private property.”

However this community, Jamaica Queens is controlled mostly by black politicians. They come out in full force during elections; then they disappear.

Voters get very little for their loyalty. And so blacks are stuck in hell. Complaints to many problems go unnoticed and unresolved.

Nonetheless, my comrade, and I will continue to expose, expose, expose; because taxpayers pay the politicians’ salaries.

Boranian, you are in charge of constituents services at Borough President Katz’s office. Thus, you should have taken care of the deplorable site months ago, but as usual, that’s not the reality.

Can you contact sanitation and take care of this heart-wrenching, depressing, animal ravishing heap of garbage? This is no way that human beings should spend Thanksgiving.

Photos were taken today, Sunday November, 20th. Location, 107-58 164th Street. Meanwhile residents are staying clear of the area. It is too nasty and unhealthy.

Take notice of the uncovered toilet."

P. Hazel: Social Media Journalist for Justice.

$10M lawyer fees for BdB defense

From the NY Times:

Inside New York City’s Law Department, the case is named Matter No. 2016-013018. It goes by an even more mysterious title in the city’s $10 million contract with outside criminal defense lawyers: John Doe Investigation.

But for New Yorkers, the matter is better known as the federal inquiry into Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, and his aides, one that is said to focus on whether they traded favorable government actions for political contributions.

Last week, the de Blasio administration quietly filed with the city’s comptroller its contract with a law firm, Debevoise & Plimpton, that has for months been acting as outside counsel for the mayor and his aides. The contract, obtained by The New York Times through a request under the state Freedom of Information Law, offers the most detailed look yet at the cost of defending actions that the mayor has insisted were appropriate and legal.

The Law Department, which arranged for the legal services through negotiation as opposed to a competitive bid process, described in concise terms its need for a firm “with expertise in criminal defense law to provide legal services in support of the John Doe Investigation and any related litigation.”

The department checked several boxes saying it required a contractor to “obtain special expertise” not available at the agency, “provide services not needed on a long-term basis,” “accomplish work within a limited amount of time” and “avoid a conflict of interest.” The city’s corporation counsel, who oversees the department, waived a requirement for a public hearing on the contract, the documents show, on the ground that a hearing could “disclose litigation strategy.”

The de Blasio administration, prompted by required budgetary reports, has in recent days offered a limited accounting of its spending on outside lawyers: $6.5 million through the end of the year for overlapping investigations of the mayor, said Eric F. Phillips, Mr. de Blasio’s spokesman.

That amount includes $400,000 for lawyers at Carter Ledyard & Milburn, who have helped defend the city in state and local inquiries — including one by the comptroller — into the sale in February of Rivington House, a former nursing home in Manhattan whose deed restricted use of the property to nonprofit residential health care. Mr. Phillips declined to comment on whether the firm continued to work for the city on that matter.

Mr. de Blasio, asked at a news conference on Friday about the costs, said: “We’ve been asked to provide information; we’ve been very, very cooperative, and as many times as the investigators want to talk to members of the administration, of course they will have that opportunity. But each time requires preparation and representation. That’s why.”

A Law Department spokesman declined to reply to a list of questions about the contract.

Monday, November 21, 2016

State legislators not getting pay raise

From the Queens Chronicle:

A state-commissioned panel did not vote on raising the pay of state lawmakers at a special meeting on Tuesday, the deadline for which an agreement had to be made.

That means state legislators will return to the capital in January still making a base pay of $79,500, the same amount they’ve been paid since 1999, the last time there was a raise.

They are still the third-highest paid legislators in the country.

New 421a regulations will cause NYC to lose a lot of $

From DNA Info:

Developers have warned that Mayor Bill de Blasio's plan to build 80,000 units of affordable housing would be in jeopardy without the state's 421-a tax break. But a proposed update to that law could actually cost the city billions of dollars in what advocates describe as a "wasteful giveway."

Under a new 421-a agreement up for approval by state lawmakers, the Real Estate Board of New York trade group that represents developers says it needs the program to put shovels in the ground for affordable and market rate rentals.

But an analysis from the Alliance for Tenant Power — a coalition of housing, community and legal service groups — said the new program would cost the city $2.4 billion a year in lost tax revenue.

That’s double the $1.2 billion the program cost the city in 2016, which only yielded about $100 million a year worth of affordable housing, the group said.

DOB command post may be overkill

"A few weeks ago, there was this story about the FDNY rescuing a 93 year old man from a burning building on the upper east side. Well, while I was passing through there, the streets were barricaded and guarded by 5 or 6 cops on patrol and I happened to see this sight. A Department of Buildings command post wagon. Because of the surveillance of the area and how some cops don't like to have their photos or any other photos taken in their vicinity, I could only sneak a rear shot.

This city is going batshit with the frivolous spending. Now the DOB has to have paramilitary toys too." - JQLLC

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Budget increased to pay for more shelters and de Blasio defense

From the NY Times:

The de Blasio administration announced late on Thursday that it now anticipated spending over $1.3 billion more than it had originally forecast in the current budget, part of an annual recalibration of spending and revenue in New York City that takes place each November.

The November financial plan update, as it is known, highlighted other notable changes to account for short-term and longer-term issues: $52 million in new spending for homeless shelters, added since the budget was adopted by the City Council in June; millions more to offset pension fund underperformance; and a reduction in projected tax revenues, down by $127 million for the 2017 fiscal year.

The plan also included $6.5 million in new spending by the Law Department for the hiring of outside lawyers to handle the myriad state and federal investigations that are said to focus on whether Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, or members of his administration traded favorable official actions for donations.

At the same time, the city’s already historically high head count grew in the forecast of city budget officials: It is now expected to exceed 300,000 full-time employees by June, not counting the tens of thousands of additional part-time workers on the city payroll.

Fauxgressives use the F word a lot

Language in polite society has become a lot coarser over the years, but isn't the F word still a bit taboo for public governmental figures?

When did this become the norm?

School trailers will stay for now

From the Queens Chronicle:

The School Construction Authority has no immediate plans to remove 70 of the trailers being used as portable classrooms on school grounds across the borough, agency officials told Borough Board members Monday.

“We go at them as we can find solutions,” said Michael Mirisola, director of external affairs at the SCA.

The agency went over its amended 2015-19 capital plan with board members, detailing the plans to build and renovate schools in Queens district by district, but it was the part about the trailers — known as transportable classroom units — that most interested the community board chairpersons and a few City Council members who showed up to the meeting.

The capital plan, as it stands, has $450 million allocated for the removal of the units, but before they can be taken away, a plan must be developed to seat the children in them back in their school or an addition built onto it.

Right now, there are 17 Queens schools with such a plan, though some details still need to be hammered out.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

East Harlem tells City Planning to shove their rezoning plan

From DNA Info:

Community activists shut down an East Harlem rezoning forum on Thursday in protest of an effort to dramatically redraw the neighborhood.

Residents packed the gymnasium at Taino Towers but, before speakers from the city Department of Planning could present their plan, protesters took to the floor with a bullhorn to oppose the rezoning.

Residents from Community Voices Heard demanded that the city first put $200 million towards repairs for existing New York City Housing Authority properties and lower levels of affordability for new developments.

"We're demanding that 30 percent of the new units built on public land are for low-income residents," said one woman from the organization. "And by low-income, we mean $23,000 and less."

The city laid out a rough rezoning proposal, which in some areas would include buildings as tall as 35 stories and development on NYCHA land.

Woodhaven residents concerned about overdevelopment in wake of firehouse relocation

From NY1:

Having an old firehouse just a few doors from their homes has been a source of comfort for many who live on or near 87th Street. Some say it has been a lifesaver.

"I get asthma, and there is times I have to call them, and instead of the truck, they run down the block," said one resident.

"I had a fire. I live on 85th Street. And it was just so great having someone that close," said another.

But that's about to change. The firehouse is set to undergo an extensive 18-month renovation, which will force Engine Company 293 to relocate to a firehouse at 101st street and Jamaica Avenue. The new location is about a half mile away, and that has some residents worried.

"These little houses here that used to be two families, you now have four and five families living here, and for that reason alone, you really need something quite close," said one resident.

Responding to the concerns, the Fire Department says that during the renovation, the neighborhood will be covered by other fire companies in addition to Engine Company 293, a redundancy that should reduce the impact of the closure.

Woman using kids to steal packages in Woodhaven

From PIX11:

A woman with her two daughters were caught on home surveillance camera allegedly stealing packages left outside of a Queens home in three separate incidents in October.

Kimberly and Jennifer David, sisters who live in the family home in Woodhaven, Queens, wondered why the numerous clothing items they had ordered online hadn’t arrived.

So they called UPS and the Postal Service and were told all the merchandise had been delivered and left on their porch. Their home has a security camera so they went back and checked the video over a three-week period. They found what happened to their packages.

On Oct. 21, the video shows what appears to be a mother and her two young daughters walking down the sidewalk towards the David’s home. The group stopped in front of the house and looked at the porch. The older woman appeared to be saying something to one of the girls, who then quickly moved toward the porch, crouching as she reached down, picked up the package, turned around and quickly went back down the stairs.

The entire theft took less than 10 seconds.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Graziano to challenge Vallone next year

From the Queens Chronicle:

Land use expert Paul Graziano, who is challenging Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) next year in a Democratic primary race for his seat, wants to save northeast Queens.

“My priorities are really simple — my priorities have always been the same, which is to protect my district,” Graziano said Monday in a sitdown interview with the Chronicle’s editorial board. “And what does protecting the district mean? Protecting the district means to protect it from bad development, overdevelopment. If you can do that, a lot of the other things fall into place.”

A planning consultant, Graziano is a civic activist who has worked on the downzoning of a large portion of northeast Queens with state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) when the latter was on the City Council. A plaintiff in the lawsuit to stop the Willets West mall development project, Graziano is also a former president of the Historic Districts Council.

Queens, the Flushing resident said, has gone through “jarring changes.”

“I’ve seen many, many changes, and part of what we tried to do was both with landmarking, rezoning and other strategies to protect these neighborhoods, is to make it so that change is gradual and people can go through those changes in an easier fashion,” Graziano said. “And also make the neighborhood so that when someone comes 50 years from now, they can come in and still recognize the place that maybe they grew up in.”

He ran against Vallone and three others in a Democratic primary for the seat in 2013, coming in third, but he is confident that the field will be less crowded this time.

“It was a very different crowd,” he said. “This time around, I think it’s just gonna be me and Paul Vallone.”

The councilman, he claimed, gives favors to campaign contributors — a major point in his campaign but not the only one.

Nationwide homeless population is down - but way up in NYC

From the Daily News:

Despite a record rate of homeless in New York City, homelessness across the country has continued to decline over the past seven years, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced Thursday.

There were 549,928 homeless people on a single night in January 2016, a 14% drop since 2010, the year the Obama administration started Opening Doors, a broad plan to combat homelessness.

The data is based on figures reported by approximately 3,000 cities and counties across the country.

But the success has not spread to New York City, where there are an estimated 73,523 homeless people, according to HUD.

That's a 37.9% increase since 2007, records show.

Also Thursday, a new poll showed nearly all New Yorkers think homelessness is a serious problem in the city, and respondents gave Mayor de Blasio lower grades on handling it than any other issue.

In the Quinnipiac University poll, 96% of voters said homelessness was a serious problem — 70% saying it’s “very serious,” and 26% “somewhat serious.”

Brooklyn doesn't want streetcar

From DNA Info:

Downtown Brooklyn residents “don’t need” the mayor’s proposed streetcar running through their neighborhood, locals told city officials at a Tuesday meeting, citing the high cost to taxpayers and the disruption to traffic.

Officials from the Department of Transportation and the Economic Development Corporation presented proposed routes for the Brooklyn-Queens Connector, dubbed the BQX, through Downtown Brooklyn and the surrounding neighborhoods at a Community Board 2 Transportation Committee Meeting.

Proposed routes such as Flushing Avenue and Cadman Plaza East would take riders past the transit-starved Brooklyn Navy Yard and make connections to transit hubs including Borough Hall.

“You cannot maintain all the lanes of traffic, maintain all the sidewalk width, all the bike lanes and all parking lanes — that’s not possible,” BQX Director Adam Giambrone said. “There will be tradeoffs that need to be made.”

Residents and community board members raised opposition to the streetcar — which will cost $2.5 billion to build and $30 million annually to operate — calling the costs unnecessary and instead suggested the city spend the money on additional buses in the area.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Restler's stupidity gets press attention, de Blasio & Cuomo apparently okay with it

From the Daily News:

One Facebook friend called the sign inappropriate. “There are good White People, and you are not going to make me feel guilty that I am,” the man wrote.

A second person wrote: "And you represent our mayors office?"

Restler, who makes $107,625 at City Hall, took the post down. He could not be reached for comment.

De Blasio spokesman Eric Phillips said the mayor was not initially aware of the posted picture and doesn’t believe it’s appropriate.

Phillips said Restler’s sister was apparently protesting white supremacy. “No doubt the message was inartful and not clear enough in its intent and that’s why Lincoln took it off his page,” he said.

Restler was spoken to but not sanctioned. “He understands why people took offense to it and it certainly didn’t represent his views,” Phillips said.

But in his own Facebook post Monday night, former City Councilman James Gennaro, who now works for Gov. Cuomo at the Department of Environmental Conservation, resurrected the item and blasted the fact it came from someone connected to the mayor.

"It seems that to the Mayor's senior advisor, hate is okay as long as the right people (or the right racial “state of mind,” if that's what is meant by “whiteness") is hated," Gennaro wrote.

He also criticized Restler for taking the post down.

After seeing the Daily News story, Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi said that "Jim Gennaro's online writings do not reflect the views of the governor's office."

Meanwhile, Maspeth took to Driggs Avenue to protest Restler where he lives:

Lincoln was seen several times peering out at the protest.

Sanitation may actually remove snow this year

From NY1:

Hoping to avoid a repeat of last January's disastrous cleanup in parts of Brooklyn and Queens, Sanitation Officials say they have made significant changes to the snow removal process.

The agency has purchased $21 million of new equipment to handle some of the narrow streets that large trucks cannot navigate and to replace private contractors for routine plowing.

"We have enough equipment that we can handle the tertiary streets more effectively and more efficiently," said Henry Ehrhardt Director of Community Affairs for the Department of Sanitation. "We will still use private contractors on call for plowing and hauling operations, but all of the snow plowing and salting as far as regular operations are concerned will be done by department personnel this year."

And that personnel has received a significant amount of training compared to previous years. Several drills were on the street and not at a training facility.

"In the past, the way we did snow training was at our training center in Brooklyn and sometimes we had the training during the week so as much as we wanted to be focused on the training we really couldn't as much as we did," said one sanitation official.

New equipment to clear bike lanes, crosswalks and bus stops has also been added. And the city has updated its GPS technology to better inform the public about which streets have been plowed.

Queens Library to protest Trump

From LIC Post:

Demonstrations and protests have dominated cities across the country since the election last week, and now a local politician is getting in on the action.

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer will be leading a march across the Queensboro Bridge to Trump Tower on Saturday to protest against the values that President Elect Donald Trump espouses. The march will begin at 1 pm and will leave from Dutch Kills Green in Queens Plaza.

Organizations included in the event tonight are:

-Planned Parenthood of New York City

-Girl Scouts of Greater New York

-Make the Road New York

-Woodside On the Move

-Jacob Riis Center

-Sunnyside Community Services

-Emerald Isle Immigration Center

-Big Reuse

-Catholic Migration Center

-Queens Library

-Fortune Society

-Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City

-Muslim Student Association of Aviation High School

-Theater of the Oppressed New York

-Aids Center of Queens County

-The Arab American Family Support Center

-…And possibly more

These protests get more comical by the day. There were no protests when they were sure he would lose.

BSA approves overdevelopment in Staten Island

From SI Live:

A plan to build four new two-family houses at 122 Bard Ave. in Livingston has been approved and is awaiting building permits from the city before shovels can hit the dirt.

The vacant parcel, which measures 85 feet wide and 200 feet deep, used to be home to a two-story, single-family house. It has now been divided into four lots and will be developed for a total of eight families.

The city Board of Standards and Appeals granted the request by developer Glenn Yost of Staten Island-based Whitwell Properties LLC to build the four buildings.

Residents, the Community Board and other leaders have opposed the project, as it adds density to the site and the original plan didn't offer what they felt was appropriate parking for the four buildings. They feared that residents would park on an access road even though it's prohibited.

The Land Use Committee of Community Board 1 voted against the project, citing concerns with parking and the access road.

The Full Community Board 1 also voted against it.

Borough President James Oddo also opposed it, alleging that it doesn't comply with zoning requirements in the Lower Density Growth Management Area Zoning Amendment, regarding open area for residences in the zoning district and the location of parking.

Legislators refuse to allow SBJSA to be voted on

From the Village Voice:

You'd think a law that would give small businesses a fighting chance against astronomical rents and the soulless chains willing to pay them would be an easy sell for a City Council chock-full of progressives and our supposedly liberal mayor.

Yet Mayor Bill de Blasio, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Public Advocate Letitia James, and Robert Cornegy, the chairperson of the council's Committee on Small Business, won’t even allow the legislation to go before a committee hearing, even though 27 councilmembers support it. Why?

In short, because it would supremely piss off the powerful real estate interests that all major politicians in New York City must answer to, which makes it a total nonstarter. Debating the Small Business Jobs Survival act would start a conversation about the future of the city that no ambitious politician actually wants to have.

At 9 a.m. Friday morning, a group of community advocates will hold a rally outside City Hall to protest the mayor and the council's willful inaction on the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, which would give commercial tenants a ten-year minimum lease, as well as the right to renewal, and a right to go to arbitration to settle on a new rent.

The SBJSA has been kicking around in some form or another since commercial rent control died in New York City in 1963, and with it, the ability for a small business owner to have any sort of economic stability in New York City. Instead, they became subject to the whims of landlords and speculation, larger market forces that are able to take a vibrant, locally owned business district and completely clear it out, in just a few months.

"This isn’t a silver bullet of legislation," said Jenny Dubnau, an artist based in Long Island City, who’s a member of the Artist Studio Affordability Project (ASAP), an organization that aims to unite artists and small business owners who are each being displaced by commercial speculation. "All we’re asking for is some level of negotiating power. We need something to help us stop the bleeding."

Unlike rent-stabilized units, or rent-controlled apartments, under the SBJSA, there wouldn’t be state-dictated increases or freezes. However, the all-powerful Real Estate Board of New York has viewed even a discussion of the law as an affront to good manners, and gotten City Hall to label the proposed legislation as rent control.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Tony Avella likely to primary de Blasio

The rumors are getting stronger out there that State Senator Tony is going to run against Bill de Blasio next year in the mayoral primary. Avella is apparently as sick of de Blasio and his fauxgressive policies as most of the rest of the city is. Who else will joint he fray? Only time will tell.

New Elmhurst Math : 4=40 or the DESTRUCTION of ELMHURST

Submitted from Elmhurst:

"Many of our Queens neighborhoods are being transformed from lovely residential communities to overcrowded and ugly suburbs. Overdevelopment, destruction of historic landmarks, continual building code violations at construction sites, etc. Elmhurst is no exception. THIS HAS TO STOP!

Greedy developers are taking advantage of outdated NYC zoning regulations and transforming Elmhurst into an overcrowded and overdeveloped suburb. Of course they don’t care since they won’t be living here! Just take a look at a sample of these past Elmhurst sales and conversions:

These are just a sampling of what is happening to Elmhurst. So why are we writing this article? As you can see from the above examples, 4 one family homes were destroyed and the new replacement buildings became 40 families → 4 = 40 !!!!

Here are the problems created by uncontrolled overdevelopment:

Shortage of street parking
Overpopulated schools
Overtaxed Public Transportation
Subway & Buses
Strain on Public Services / Infrastucture
Sewer & drainage
Police / Fire / Ambulances
Traffic congestion
Destruction of neighborhood character
Loss of historical homes

So what can we do? For starters, we are forming an organization to inform Elmhurst residents of current events - both good and bad. We will work with the NYC agencies to develop a more current plan for urbanization. We will study the impact of overdevelopment and be a neighborhood watchdog. We will help the residents with complaints (building, sanitation, traffic, etc.) and be their voice to the authorities. We will work with the local civic groups to coordinate activities.

We will be a voice for preservation and protection of Elmhurst!

We will also be publishing a new Elmhurst newsletter to inform the community of ongoing and future developments. They will be distributed through the Newtown Civic Association (next meeting on Monday, Nov. 28 at 8pm). We will have articles on past, current and future events, research on historical sites and most importantly, the preservation of Elmhurst."

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

De Blasio's top adviser exhibits serious lack of judgment

Lincoln Restler, fauxgressive extraordinaire, and senior adviser to Mayor de Blasio, didn't see any problem posting this photo on Facebook. It's beyond stupid, especially coming from a member of an extremely well to do white family.

Does it scare anyone else out there to have people like Lincoln Restler advising the mayor?

Ugly statue will soon be foisted upon LIC

The controversial pink sculpture planned for the median at the intersection of Jackson Avenue and 43rd Avenue is about to go up, according to Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer in a Facebook post today.

The 8 ½-foot-tall sculpture, called the Sunbather, comes at a cost of $515,000 and is part of the Department of Cultural Affairs ‘Percent for Art’ initiative.

The DCLA selected the sculpture, which will be permanent, based on the opinion of an expert panel. The public art is required since New York law requires that one percent of the budget for City-funded construction projects be spent on public art.

The sculpture sparked a heated discussion when Community Board 2’s land use committee first heard of the plan and saw the design at a November 2014 committee meeting.

The committee members said they felt caught off guard by the proposal and were upset that they did not have more input in the design.

Penny Lee, who works with the Department of City Planning, told the committee at the time that the artwork was “not just a whimsical piece he [the artist] came with up. It may look whimsical but an enormous amount of thought and attention to place was put into the design.”

Make sure to click the link above to see how much taxpayer money got blown on this pile of pink crap.

NYPD won't let public know where mayor goes in their aircraft

From DNA Info:

The NYPD has formally declined to provide any information about Mayor Bill de Blasio's use of helicopters, including the time a department chopper nearly crashed with the mayor aboard when it landed on Rikers Island or when the police flew him and his wife to a presidential debate on Long Island.

Brushing aside a Freedom of Information request by DNAinfo New York, the NYPD’s Legal Bureau claimed its FOIL Unit was “unable to locate responsive records" — although the department keeps meticulous logs on the NYPD Aviation Unit's daily use of its fleet of choppers.

NYPD lawyers went even further, asserting that, even if they could find the applicable records on when the mayor was aboard an NYPD chopper, the department would not turn them over, anyway.

“If such records existed, they would be exempt on the basis of Public Officers Law or Section 87(2)(e)(iv), as such information, if disclosed, would reveal non-routine techniques and procedures,” the NYPD claimed in a brief three-sentence response.

City and state experts on FOIL, however, say the NYPD is completely wrong — and officials “obviously” know where flight records are located, and turning them over would not disclose anything unusual about “techniques and procedures.”

Monday, November 14, 2016

DHS rolls out same line of crap in Richmond Hill

From NY1:

A heated town hall meeting took place Thursday to discuss a proposed homeless facility in Ozone Park.

"We don't know if there's sex offenders in here, these people can't survive on their own," said resident Christopher Chopin.

The city is working with non-profit 'Breaking Ground' on the proposal to serve homeless men and women at a building on Atlantic Avenue.

They said the plan is designed to serve 75 drop-in clients who can stop by for services, and an additional 25-50 transitional housing residents.

Councilmember Ruben Wills and State Assemblyman Michael Miller hosted the meeting. The goal was to give residents a chance to express their concerns to a panel of representatives behind the plan.

"This allows people to ask questions, and hopefully get some answers, whether they believe the answers or not, at least they are getting some answers, said Wills.

Answers that didn't seem to sit well with most of the residents who attended, especially since organizers don't plan to put a curfew in place.

"What happens if one day they're not on their medication or they're not receiving the help they need, or they just don't want the help, and they attack one of our children?" said resident Ivette Hurtado.

Organizers argue they will have 24/7 security inside and outside of the building, and won't let sex offenders in.

Look folks, this will not be a "drop in center". This will be yet another location where DHS warehouses 100+ people who come from nowhere nearby. Those deluded into thinking that this will serve "local street homeless" and that they will screen for sex offender status - when they have already been found inside the Pan Am Hotel - have got to wake up and smell the coffee.

De Blasio thinks Trump voters are after him

From the Daily News:

Mayor de Blasio is fundraising off Donald Trump’s victory, warning the same “small pockets” that supported Trump in New York are trying to defeat him as mayor.

In an email to campaign supporters Sunday, de Blasio reiterated his vow to resist any effort to deport undocumented immigrants who live in New York, or to take away health insurance or reproductive rights.

“Now, that will probably make us a target of Trump supporters in our upcoming re-election,” de Blasio wrote. “While he only received small pockets of support in New York City, much of it came from people who are prepared to spend a lot of money to defeat us next year.”

He asked for a $3 contribution to his 2017 re-election campaign, in line with his strategy of going after small dollar donors.

Yeah, it's a lot more than Trump voters who won't be voting for you next year. You managed to piss off most of your own party as well, so good luck.

Foreclosures spike, especially in Queens

From the NY Post:

October brought an ugly surprise to hundreds of New Yorkers, as new foreclosure cases spiked dramatically.

More than 1,100 NYC households fell into foreclosure in October, a 32 percent increase from September, and a 37 percent increase from last year. Queens, which has been hard-hit since the foreclosure crisis began in 2007, had 400 new cases last month, nearly double the number of a year ago.

“People think the foreclosure crisis is toward the end, and it really isn’t,” said Rose Marie Cantanno, supervising attorney of the Foreclosure Prevention Project at the New York Legal Assistance Group. “There are still a lot of people stuck in the middle, trying to do something, but having trouble [negotiating with their lender].”

While last month’s results are well below the city’s October 2007 peak of 3,200 new foreclosures, experts fear the October 2016 uptick will continue.

The market for residential mortgages has shifted from big banks to specialized servicers and private equity owners.