Thursday, November 30, 2017

Queens unicorns?

Forgotten NY has the story of ramp and step streets in the borough.

Advocates come up with development & transit plan to make NYC less affordable

From the Daily News:

Imagine New York without its 24/7 subway system?

The experts at the Regional Plan Association did, and they believe it's key to building a reliable transit system for a growing metropolitan area.

The radical idea to snuff the pride of New York is one of dozens of recommendations in the research group's latest regional plan — the association's fourth region-wide blueprint since 1929 — being released Thursday.

“We think that the days of the 24/7 subway system in New York are coming to an end,” RPA president Tom Wright told reporters of the “controversial” idea.

Raise money through new taxes, like charging drivers to enter Manhattan’s business center, tolling major roads and highways, adopting a cap-and-trade program for emissions, and a tax based on vehicle-miles traveled. Build dense housing near transit stops throughout the region.

Extend subway lines around the city and build out overcrowded stations.

Create a regional rail network that allows trains to flow unimpeded through the tristate area, such as building a new facility south of Penn Station that could allow rail to bring travelers between Long Island and New Jersey without switching trains.

RPA is unveiling its full plan Thursday at The New School, with elected and government officials from around the region.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

DEC wants your input on contaminated site

From the Queens Tribune:

The state Department of Environment Conservation is seeking the public’s opinion on how a potentially contaminated plot of property in Hollis should be remedied.

The site, which is located at 202-16 Hillside Ave., was considered eligible for the New York Brownfield Cleanup Program, which was set up to mitigate sites with potentially harmful contaminant levels exceeding the threshold set up by the DEC. The program utilizes community feedback and oversight from the DEC and the state Department of Health to clean up spaces around the city efficiently without harming the quality of life. The Brownfield Cleanup Program services properties that are eyed for redevelopment.

To keep residents in the loop regarding the property, the state is asking that Hollis residents provide feedback on how the final plan of will be executed. Additionally, more in-depth dissection of the work being completed at the site can be collected at the Queens Library Hollis Branch, located at 202-05 Hillside Ave., or at Community Board 12’s office, located at 90-28 161st St. in Jamaica.

Low income neighborhood is in the city's crosshairs

From the NY Times:

As the gateway to a half-dozen subway lines, the sprawling Broadway Junction transit hub commands a prime location at the crossroads of six neighborhoods and serves as the unofficial welcome center in a fast-growing part of New York City.

The problem? It is anything but welcoming.

The dingy warren of passageways and platforms linking the A, C, J, Z, M and L are so packed that rush hour turns into a crawl. Outside, bus stops and a Long Island Rail Road station are plopped down in a depressing terrain of trash-strewn streets, chain-link fences rimmed with barbed wire and panhandlers camped out on sidewalks.

“You could do way better than this,” said Roody Fevry, 32, an exterminator who lives nearby. “It’s like nobody cares.”

Now Broadway Junction may finally get the makeover it has long needed. City officials are taking steps to create a destination stop with nearby restaurants, stores, gyms and other commuter-friendly amenities. Their aim is to turn the tired station and the surrounding area into a bustling economic center for a swath of Brooklyn that has long struggled with unemployment, poverty and crime.

The city’s Economic Development Corporation recently began a $200,000 study to identify potential avenues of economic growth in and around the transit hub — including office, retail and educational uses. A group of elected officials and community leaders has also been convened to come up with a vision for the area. The Brooklyn borough president, Eric Adams, and City Councilman Rafael L. Espinal Jr., a Democrat who represents the area, are the co-chairmen.

Speaker candidate wants term limits extended...again

From the Daily News:

A candidate for City Council speaker has drafted a bill to extend term limits for the Council to three terms.

Councilman Jumaane Williams plans to introduce the legislation by the end of the year to allow Council members to serve three four-year terms instead of the current two, if voters approve the idea in a referendum.

Williams is among eight candidates running for Council speaker — all of whom have said they’d support giving their fellow pols a third term.

“This is only about what’s best for the city and best for good government,” said Williams (D-Brooklyn), who plans to release the bill Monday as part of a broader proposal outlining his plans for the speakership.

The legislation would allow three terms for the Council, while keeping the max at two for the mayor, public advocate, controller and borough presidents.

It would take effect if voters ratified it at the ballot box during the next general election after a vote by the Council for the measure.

Doesn't the process for getting referendum items on the ballot require a large signature gathering operation? If the people vote yes on the measure, then it becomes law. No city council intervention is required. However, no one is collecting signatures to get term limit extensions on the ballot because...the people already voted for 2 terms 3 times.

Sounds like a ploy for votes from colleagues.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Wills suing city over Rikers treatment

From the Times Ledger:

During his stay in prison at Rikers Island over the summer on the grand larceny charges, Wills claimed to have been mistreated and denied medical care for a chronic condition due to a botched surgery from a year and a half ago, according to his lawyer, Natraj Bhushan.

Bhushan said that for days Wills did not receive proper treatment, because the staff did not have his medical records on file to meet his medical needs. His lawyer also says that Wills was not in the proper unit for someone with a chronic condition.

“You’d notice that during his trial [for grand larceny], the judge allowed him to sit on a special cushion, because due to a botched surgery the lower half of his body is permanently, partially disabled,” Bhushan said. “He had atrophy and nerve damage, and it really affected his ability to tend to his constituents for a year and a half.”

According to Bhushan, the pain medicine that Wills is on has side effects, which could affect his psyche, and during his stay at Rikers he did not get placed in a unit where he could have psychological treatment that was ordered in a court directive.

“This is someone who had well-documented medical issues,” Bhushan said. “This was taken into account when they were sentencing him.”

He is suing the city for $10 million because of how he was treated and he hopes his claim, which was acknowledged by the comptroller, would force changes at Rikers.

Prostitute plunges to her death during sting

From the Daily News:

A prostitute jumped to her death from a third-floor window atop a Queens building while trying to escape arrest during an NYPD sting operation, cops said Sunday.

The 38-year-old woman was working in an apartment above a massage parlor on 40th Road near Main Street in Flushing Saturday night, when she agreed to perform a sex act for pay on an undercover officer, cop sources said.

She bolted out a window when the cop’s backup tried to enter the apartment and arrest her, cops said.

Other officers posted outside watched as she plummeted to the sidewalk below at about 9:30 p.m., cops said.

DEC too lax with Whitestone brownfield cleanup

Great report by Ryan Brady in the Queens Chronicle:

In September, the Department of Environmental Conservation changed the brownfield cleanup program track for the Waterpointe development planned in Whitestone. A Track 2 residential cleanup was first planned for the site, where a single-family housing development is planned.

But after the agency discovered that material at the site used as fill did not meet the residential use soil cleanup objectives, it changed the project to Track 4 restricted residential use, a less stringent one. And though the DEC initially had said that single-family homes could no longer be built there, it reversed its stance after Community Board 7 protested.

The agency decided to stick with Track 4 restricted residential use when it reverted back to the single-family housing plan. And while the DEC told the Chronicle that the option is permitted when the homes are controlled by a common entity, as the Waterpointe ones are planned to be, Whitestone resident Robert LoScalzo believes that the agency cannot allow them to be built with that track.

As proof, he points to the sheet that the DEC sent CB 7 when it initially changed the brownfield cleanup and said that single-family homes could not be built. It said, “Restricted residential use provides for common ownership or a single owner/managing entity of the Site, however, single-family housing is prohibited.”

According to LoScalzo, allowing the one-family homes is “a bastardization of what they’re obligated to do under the regulation.”

To further back up his argument, the Whitestone resident pointed to a set of DEC regulations that became effective in 2006, which also says that restricted-residential use does not allow one-family homes.

The agency has also said that the Edgestone Group, the firm that owns the site, was responsible for the fill that led the track to be changed. LoScalzo wonders why the company was not punished at all for using it. “By virtue of dumping material there, they failed to comply with the standards for Track 2 cleanup,” he said. “Why are they so easily off the hook by DEC simply changing the cleanup to Track 4?”

We hear LoScalzo was present at Senator Avella's event yesterday at the Waterpointe site, and addressed the press separately afterward. Stay tuned for more because it looks like he's not done yet.

Monday, November 27, 2017

How we're clearing out Rikers

From NBC:

Two teens accused of cutting off a cab driver's thumb and slashing several other people in the Bronx are out on $200 bail, and that's not sitting well with one of their alleged victims.

Danny Dromm's creative math

Danny's in debt? Better check it out.
Yes, that outstanding $201 that he owes from 2013 (even though he has a positive balance of $2,703) really warrants a fundraiser like this.

The last election hasn't even been certified yet and he's fundraising for the next one. Since he's term limited Lord only knows what he's running for next.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

The Garaufis house: From classic to crappy

From the Times Ledger:

Work on the historic home formerly belonging to federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis is nearly complete with none of the original features of the classic 19th century structure remaining and complaints continuing to mount.

A modern brick structure with multiple entrances has risen in the place of the large, stately home that originally belonged to the Lawrence family, who owned an estate covering most of what is now Bayside and left a legacy which preservationists have attempted to maintain.

A neighborhood feud began in April 2016, led by Bonnie Skala Kiladitis, as the property was purchased and plans for renovation were posted on the city Dept. of Buildings site by the new owner with a permit requiring at least half the original structure be retained. Work on the four-story house, however, quickly took a turn for the extreme. Within days, the home had been reduced to the first floor.

The most recent violation on the property shows people have been living in the home without a certificate of occupancy for which the DOB cited them on Nov. 5.

Would you like a massage with that gift card, too?

From the Daily News:

At Manhattan Criminal Court, judges are being urged to watch their language — avoiding legal jargon, calling people by their name rather than “the defendant,” and greeting people when they enter.

Defendants will be surveyed on their experience at court — and get a $15 Dunkin Donuts gift card for filling out the questionnaire.

The city is picking up the tab for the program, which totals $800,000.

The gift cards are being given out because research ethics boards frown on having people participate in research without compensation, Mansky said.

I could go off on this in the textbook QC way, but Impunity City already did a fine job of it.

The privatization of Frank Golden Park?

From the Queens Chronicle:

Frank Golden Park is the main home of the Queens youth athletic club, which has been using it since 2009. The group has around 600 members, with approximately 300 children.

Recently, work on a $1.6 million new field — completely using private funds raised by the athletic association — was finished there. According to Shannon Gaels Chairman Robert McDonagh, the fence that now surrounds the newly finished field is only closed temporarily to protect the new grass. Although the fence will be open during the day, it’s planned to be closed permanently at night when the park is closed.

Now, the Parks Department is seeking Community Board 7’s approval for the design of a second Gaelic football field to be operated by the club right next to the newly completed one in the park. That field, which McDonagh expects to take around 18 months to finish, is paid for by $4.53 million from the City Council and Borough President Melinda Katz.

The agreement allows Shannon Gaels to operate and maintain the section of the green space between March 1 and Oct. 31 of each year. It was written in 2014 and covers a 15-year-period, after which the Parks Department can renew it for five-year terms.

According to the document, the club is required to allow an average of 10 hours on the park’s fields each weekend for it to be used by “other groups,” which are also entitled to one full weekday evening per week. And the deal mandates that school athletic programs be guaranteed a minimum of one late afternoon session per week. Other groups must get a permit to use the space.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Ozone Park strip club loses liquor license

From the Queens Chronicle:

The liquor license for the TrapHouse Gentleman’s Club in Ozone Park, an establishment that has been the source of many complaints from neighboring residents, was revoked by the State Liquor Authority at the body’s Nov. 8 meeting.

“We’re at a stage where the chances have run out,” said SLA Chairman Vincent Bradley at the meeting. “[The owner] had multiple chances to clean up his act ... we now have people in jeopardy of getting hurt.”

The sustained charges against the club, located at 78-16 Atlantic Ave., include having unlicensed security guards, violation of unspecified local regulations, being a “focal point for police attention” and there being a “sustained pattern of noise/disorder” coming from the establishment.

Mark Weinstein, the attorney for the business, asked the SLA to levy a smaller penalty — such as a suspension of the liquor license, rather than it being revoked.
Bradley responded that a suspension, or any other form of punishment, might come with a hefty fine.

“I don’t think you want to write the check I’m going to ask you to write,” the SLA chairman said. “Every other charge that’s nonviolent in nature has been committed one time previously, and sometimes twice ... I have revoked people for way less than this.”

The NY dairy farmer's conundrum

From NBC:

Dairy farms in New York are relying on workers in the country without documentation. Pablo Gutierrez reports on the issue.

This is a very interesting report. On the one hand, the farmers say no Americans are willing to do this work. To some extent that's probably true, but would they offer a wage that would be fair to an American? Probably not. They want to keep the cost of milking down, so they exploit undocumented labor by paying them poorly and forcing them to work extended hours. Yet they claim they want see a change in the Visa program which allows the workers to stay legally. If that happens, the workers will have to at least be paid minimum wage, if not a living wage as courts have ordered in the past. And then the cost of producing milk goes up and farms go under. We've created quite a mess in this country.

Actors hired to attend rally

From the Daily News:

At a rally outside City Hall, an activist calling for the city to move forward with a developer’s plan to turn a long-vacant landmarked school in the East Village into college dorms poured his heart out about how the group was just comprised of concerned community folks.

“We have jobs here. We don’t get paid for this, and literally we spent hours uncovering information,” Jose de Yarza said.

But while de Yarza doesn’t get paid for his advocacy, that doesn’t appear to be true for some of the 30 people standing quietly behind him, holding signs bashing Mayor de Blasio and local elected officials.

The Daily News obtained a casting email seeking people to “beef up attendance” for the rally, held by the newly formed group East Village Cares, in exchange for a rate of “$50 CASH / 2.5 hour booking.”

One person holding a sign at the event confirmed attending as a result of the casting call. Another declined to answer, saying it wouldn’t be right to discuss whether he’d been paid. Two others approached by The News denied being paid or getting the casting call email.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Never-ending traffic nightmare created on Queens Blvd

Take a good look at the above photo, credited to Thomas Phillips on the Chronicle's website, and understand that this is the reality that has seemed to escape the DOT. Trucks double park to make deliveries, forcing regular traffic to enter the bike lanes to pass. And now the articles.

From the Queens Chronicle:

With the advent of food-based television networks and social media, the 72-year-old deli has become something of a tourist attraction, with guests coming from all across the globe to munch on the authentic kosher cuisine.

So why at 6 p.m. on a recent, rain-free Friday night was the eatery almost entirely empty, save for one couple?

According to Parker, the answer is painted green just a few feet outside.

“The bike lanes aren’t hurting us, they’re murdering us,” Parker told the Chronicle. “This is our busy season. If things don’t turn around, you could expect layoffs in January or February. I can promise you that.”

From the Queens Chronicle:

At the famous Ben’s Best Deli, business is down 17 percent, and in the middle of dinner time last Friday, there were two people in the place when it’s usually packed. Up the street at Topix Bar and Lounge, business is down 10 percent. At Domino’s Pizza, seven of 22 drivers have quit since August. Many other stores are suffering too.

They all have the misfortune of being located on the 1.3-mile stretch of Queens Boulevard where the city eliminated 198 parking spaces so it could install bike lanes. And the result is that they’re being crushed.

The situation is reflected on a stretch of Cross Bay Boulevard where new curbside bus lanes have eliminated parking at key times of the day. A manager at the C-Town Supermarket there says business is down 20 percent.

All this damage to our society so that a vocal minority of residents can ride bikes safely on the one hand — and there’s no arguing against safety, but it didn’t require this — and bus riders can shave a few minutes off their trip on the other.

Whitestone wants stalled site dealt with

From the Times Ledger:

Whitestone residents are calling on officials to deal with an abandoned home they say has plagued the neighborhood for over a decade.

State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Whitestone) and neighbors gathered in front of 168-08 14th Ave., asking Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city Department of Buildings to investigate the status of the abandoned corner home that has been listed as “under construction” for years.

According to residents, construction on the home began years ago but then stopped suddenly. Neighbors described the house as being in an “unhealthy and unsanitary state, creating a breeding ground for rodents.”

Avella said the home first received a DOB permit for construction in 2004 which was renewed in 2008 and 2013. He said the repeated permit renewals led community members to wonder why the city continued to reissue permits for a home that had badly deteriorated. Avella also pointed out that the home had received 10 DOB Environmental Control Board violations and has had 16 complaints from the community.

The DOB said inspectors had been sent to the property to investigate the site as recently as three weeks ago and found that the scene was secure. The agency has issued two violations to the property owner, one for an unpermitted construction fence that was in poor condition and the other for failing to comply with the previously issued violations.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving 2017 from Queens Crap!

Dromm plans to fight Holden

From the Queens Chronicle:
While Koslowitz was optimistic Holden will become a valued member of the delegation, Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) said in a Monday interview he will “fight against” the incoming lawmaker’s possibly caucusing with the Democrats.

According to Dromm, Holden ruined any chance of fostering a relationship with him on Election Night, when the civic leader pledged in his victory speech to “battle some of the lunatics in the City Council that are trying to destroy the city.”

“Calling your future colleagues lunatics is not a good way to start,” Dromm said. “I do wish him well. I hope his constituents benefit from him being in office, but I’m not sure that’s going to happen.”

The openly gay lawmaker also said he’s taken issues over the years with Holden and his views that “border on racist and homophobic,” adding that the councilman-elect is a “total Republican” no matter what party he’s affiliated with.

“In my opinion, Bob represents the Trump side of the Republican Party, and he’s just as explosive as the president,” he said. “He’s always been a Republican. He has no Democratic credentials and he doesn’t represent anything the Democratic Party stands for.”

When asked what advice he had for the incoming rookie lawmaker, Dromm said Holden needs to eliminate name-calling and insulting from his arsenal.

But as of right now, the councilman said he couldn’t think of a single issue on which he even agrees with Holden, nevermind wants to work with him on.

“I don’t know what those issues would be. Look at the type of stuff you read on Queens Crap,” he said, referring to the pro-Holden blog that features mercilous attacks on lawmakers and a comment section often full of offensive remarks. “If this is what’s coming into the Council, he’s in for a rude awakening.”
The writer likely meant "merciless". The Crowley-de Blasio strategy of namecalling & insulting has now been employed by Mr. Dromm, which is pretty funny, since the progressives today scream about tolerance and inclusiveness all the time yet practice their own brand of namecalling & insulting. Pretty sure the homophobic claim was debunked - by this blog - which also highlighted that in the past Dromm chose to back Crowley over a more qualified gay candidate to score his own political points with the Machine.

This blog has always been anti-Machine which means anti-Crowley, but not really "pro"-anyone, because we've learned that all too often, today's reformer is tomorrow's hack. (Just ask Danny.) You can look back at the coverage of this election and make your own determination as to whether or not we were cheering Holden on or pointing out how awful the incumbent was.

But hell, it's Thanksgiving, so why not have some fun?

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Why the MTA is so bad

From the NY Times:

...the problems plaguing the subway did not suddenly sweep over the city like a tornado or a flood. They were years in the making, and they might have been avoided if decision makers had put the interests of train riders and daily operations ahead of flashy projects and financial gimmicks.

An examination by The New York Times reveals in stark terms how the needs of the aging, overburdened system have grown while city and state politicians have consistently steered money away from addressing them.

Century-old tunnels and track routes are crumbling, but The Times found that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s budget for subway maintenance has barely changed, when adjusted for inflation, from what it was 25 years ago.

Signal problems and car equipment failures occur twice as frequently as a decade ago, but hundreds of mechanic positions have been cut because there is not enough money to pay them — even though the average total compensation for subway managers has grown to nearly $300,000 a year.

Daily ridership has nearly doubled in the past two decades to 5.7 million, but New York is the only major city in the world with fewer miles of track than it had during World War II. Efforts to add new lines have been hampered by generous agreements with labor unions and private contractors that have inflated construction costs to five times the international average.

New York’s subway now has the worst on-time performance of any major rapid transit system in the world, according to data collected from the 20 biggest. Just 65 percent of weekday trains reach their destinations on time, the lowest rate since the transit crisis of the 1970s, when graffiti-covered cars regularly broke down.

Only one post today, please take the time to read the entire article. It breaks down the issue perfectly.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Joel Wiener: Agent of gentrification

From Crains:

In the world of New York housing, where landlord-tenant battles are both routine and brutal, Joel Wiener has plenty of scars.

One of the city’s top 10 rental apartment owners, Wiener’s been sued for overcharges and shoddy repairs, and denounced by politicians for making housing too expensive for the working class.

None of it, though, has slowed his rise. From a disclosed net worth of $124 million in 2001, the 68-year-old Wiener today has a fortune of $1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He’s benefited from soaring property values as gentrification spreads to one city neighborhood after another.

His Pinnacle Group manages about $2 billion worth of property—some 10,000 units, almost all rent-regulated, in every New York borough save Staten Island. The firm has also made millions converting about 25 buildings to condominiums.

Through his lawyer, Ken Fisher, Wiener declined to comment on his net worth.

Kim Powell, who co-founded an anti-Wiener group called Buyers and Renters United to Save Harlem in 2005, says his wealth has come at the expense of tenants.

Powell and other critics say landlords like Wiener are helping to accelerate the demise of affordable housing by snapping up buildings in once undesirable neighborhoods and driving out existing tenants with high rents. Gentrification was a major issue in the recent campaign that saw Mayor Bill de Blasio elected to a second term. He’s pledged to build 300,000 affordable units by 2026.

“The harassment comes dressed up in a pinstripe suit,” Powell said. “This is a family empire that’s mushroomed into a billion-dollar estate.”

Some yeshivas not providing basic education

From CBS 2:

Mayor Bill de Blasio admitted Monday night that some yeshiva students are not being taught the basics.

But how soon Hizzoner will fix the problem remains to be seen. CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer was demanding answers Monday.

“The issue must be resolved,” de Blasio said.

De Blasio was talking about charges of poor education at some yeshivas, and a complaint filed against the city to force the schools to comply with a state law that non-public schools provide education “substantially equivalent” to public schools.

The mayor’s comments were an admission that the problem exists, Kramer reported.

“There’s a full investigation going on,” de Blasio said, “and there’s a series of discussions going on with yeshivas to address that problem. It will be resolved.”

There was no indication when things would change.

Is cashless tolling really a trap?

From CBS 2:

Countless drivers are reporting that ever since cashless tolling took effect at Metropolitan Transportation Authority bridges and tunnels, they have gotten hit with a mountain of fines.

As CBS2’s Jessica Layton reported, cashless tolls have transformed the speed to get through the city’s congested bridges and tunnels. But now, commuters are complaining cashless tolls have caused them countless problems.

Since cashless tolling took effect, surprise fines have been piling up on unsuspecting drivers like never before.

Tom Reilly of Staten Island said at one point, he owed $2,200.

“It’s amazing,” he said.

Reilly did not know his debit card information was not up to date until he got hit with more than a mortgage payment’s worth of violations at the Hugh Carey Tunnel. And in another dilemma, drivers do not know when their account has a low balance – because those convenient indicators are gone with the new gantries.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Fresh Meadows hotels to debut after the holidays

From the Queens Chronicle:

With the work fence around the Marriott Courtyard and Fairfield Inn hotels in Fresh Meadows gone, they’ll soon be open to guests.

A spokeswoman for the hotel chain told the Chronicle that they are expected to open in January, although she declined to give a specific date.

The two six-story buildings are on the westbound Horace Harding Expressway between 183rd Street and Booth Memorial Avenue. The total number of combined rooms for the hotels is 218.

New theater coming to giant Sunnyside building

From Sunnyside Post:

Sunnyside will be without a movie theater no more, as Regal Cinemas has signed on to take up part of an ongoing development on Queens Boulevard.

The movie theater chain will be occupying the first two floors of the commercial tower currently under construction at 38-01 Queens Blvd.

Of the 145,000 square-feet planned for the building, developed by Curbcut Urban Partners and dubbed “The Sunnyside”, the Regal Entertainment Group will take up 38,000 square-feet of it to bring a theater to the area, according to Benjamin Malinsky, vice president of Curbcut.

The entertainment group will provide a theater to a neighborhood that hasn’t seen one since the shuttering of Sunnyside Center Cinemas in 2015, which opened in the late 1940s.

BDB knew about the NYCHA mess for quite some time

From the Wall Street Journal:

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has known the city’s housing authority wasn’t complying with lead-inspection regulations since last year, his office said Sunday.

In a report issued last week, the city’s Department of Investigation said the New York City Housing Authority submitted false claims to the federal government showing it had conducted lead-paint inspections when the required work hadn’t been done for years.

The mayor was first informed of “the possibility of non-compliance” in March 2016, his office said.

Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat who was re-elected to a second term on Nov. 7, has said “operations executives” were responsible for the lapses.

The housing authority notified City Hall that the agency wasn’t in compliance with local laws in April 2016 and with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development rules in July, according to de Blasio spokeswoman Olivia Lapeyrolerie.

“As part of the agency’s response, NYCHA inspected every apartment with kids under 6 where there may have been lead paint in 2016 and will do so again by the end of 2017,” Ms. Lapeyrolerie said.

Meanwhile, all this is costing us taxpayers a ton of cash.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Van Wyck revamp in the works

From the Queens Chronicle:

Plans call for widening the Van Wyck one lane in each direction. Fink said there is enough space available so that the state can avoid any private property. He did say that in some cases, where there is not enough room on a shoulder, the new lanes might have to run up against retaining walls for the service roads.

Fink said one of the challenges is that there are 20 bridges crossing the Van Wyck in that corridor, including four belonging to the Long Island Rail Road.

“We would have to reach out to them,” he said, as any widening of the roadway almost certainly would require work on railroad trestles. Fink said a federal environmental impact study should be completed by next September, with construction slated to run from August 2019 to the end of 2023.

NYPD crackdown on drones

From CBS 2:

More than 600,000 drones were registered with the Federal Aviation Administration last year alone.

As they grow in popularity, so do the number of accidents involving some of the amateur aircraft.

To see how the NYPD is cracking down on rogue drones, CBS2’s Maurice Dubois took to the sky with the department’s aviation unit.

Although this report states that drones are illegal in NYC except at 5 city parks, in reality there are no local ordinances pertaining to drones. The FAA requires that drone operation happen at least 5 miles away from airports, which prohibits drone operation in most of Queens.

BDB looking to hire Rikers closure consultants

From Metro:

Mayor Bill de Blasio officially began the process of shuttering Rikers Island on Thursday by issuing a request for proposal to develop an action plan to close the controversial jail complex and find alternate solutions.

“We have a moral obligation to close down Rikers Island and transition to a smaller, safer and fairer jail system,” the mayor said. “To make that a reality, we’ll be looking at where we can create more off-island space by expanding existing buildings or finding new sites and maintaining an honest dialogue with communities and elected officials.

“We’re moving aggressively on the long road to closing Rikers Island, and this is a crucial step forward,” he added.

The consultant will work with the city’s goal to operate detention facilities that go beyond confinement by providing behavioral, health, developmental and re-entry support for inmates, as well as offer improved access for service providers, lawyers, visitation and transportation to court.

Proposals will be due in mid-December with the consultant chosen in early January, the mayor’s office said, adding that “there will be robust community consultation workshops and engagement with neighborhood residents.”

Saturday, November 18, 2017

What goes on near Creedmoor

From Crains:

Fully 70% of Creedmoor patients are now managed by the various nonprofit organizations operating on the Creedmoor grounds. These nonprofits have been absent from each of the three Creedmoor meetings, although their presence had been requested. They shield themselves from accountability, and tout HIPAA patient confidentiality laws to keep neighboring communities in the dark.

Surprisingly, there is no requirement that wandering patients take their daily medications and there is no behavioral code of conduct protocol conveyed to them. The general lack of accountability by the nonprofits is stunning. Their managers enter the facility gates in the morning and leave at night, rarely stepping foot outside of Creedmoor to see what their patients have wrought on nearby communities.

The aggressive panhandling is rampant. Unsuspecting pedestrians are accosted daily and disheveled individuals often follow them into a Dunkin’ Donuts or wait outside an ATM to demand money. Recently, a woman sitting at McDonald’s in Queens Village was assaulted by a Creedmoor resident. A middle-aged worker in Creedmoor was sucker-punched by a patient as she bent down to pick up a food tray. She is now recuperating with 3 steel rods in her neck.

Public defecation, substance abuse and other quality-of-life infractions are now commonplace in residential communities around Creedmoor. Unfortunately, the police are discouraged from enforcing certain laws now that Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council have decriminalized some low-level infractions. Creedmoor officials acknowledge that well-meaning individuals should neither give money nor endure menacing shakedowns by patients who live rent-free, receive three meals per day including snacks, plus a weekly monetary stipend paid in part by the very same individuals that are being accosted daily.

Civic leaders who sought to identify why these problems have dramatically worsened over the past year were repeatedly told by Creedmoor administrators that nothing has changed. But recently, writer and former City Council candidate Dennis Saffran, who investigated Creedmoor for another story, revealed some interesting facts. It turns out that much has changed. Governor Andrew Cuomo prioritized deinstitutionalizing the mentally ill and moving them out of wards and into so-called “transitional housing.” To accomplish this, OMH simply rebranded its wards as “transitional housing” and redesignated inpatients as “outpatients” although their living arrangements never changed.

Both sides heard at Queens hearing on monuments

From PIX11:

The future of New York City’s controversial monuments was the topic of conversation Friday at Queens Borough Hall where for the first time, New Yorkers had a chance to give their two cents.

As many as 800 pieces of art across the five boroughs including a statue of Christopher Columbus in Midtown, are at the center of the debate.

Nearly two dozen residents testified before Mayor de Blasio’s advisory commission on city art, monuments and markers.

From residents who warned that erasing history would be dangerous, to others who called Columbus a “terrorist” — the opinions ran the gamut.

Outside all the talk of history, the turnout for the public testimony was noticeably low with members of the media outnumbering residents.

The midday hearing drew ire from some but the Mayor’s office insists holding a hearing like this in the middle of the day on a weekday, is standard procedure.

Legislation introduced to force junk car removal

From Brooklyn Daily:

Councilman Alan Maisel (D–Marine Park) has penned new legislation that would require the city to haul away cars abandoned without plates within one month of a do-gooder making a complaint, the local pol announced during a Community Board 18 meeting on Oct. 24.

Hundreds of derelict cars have lingered for months on his district’s streets over the years, vexing communities already strapped for parking spaces — so it’s about time the city follow its own rules and tow them away, said Maisel.

“There are a couple of hundred cars that have to be towed, and the city, for whatever reason, has chosen not to take this issue as a priority,” he said. “The legislation is putting the city on the spot to force them to do what they should be doing.”

Currently, once someone files a complaint about an abandoned vehicle without any plates, the Department of Sanitation is supposed to investigate within three days, tag it if it’s a complete wreck, and then remove it within another three days, according to a spokesman for New York’s Strongest. If it looks still in working order, then it’s up to the police department to haul it off, the spokesman said. And the police don’t have a time limit for towing away plateless cars.

The city has fallen short of its duties to address quality-of-life issues such as derelict cars dumped on the street, and it’s leaving locals fed up, said Maisel.

Friday, November 17, 2017

SBS negatively impacting local businesses

Photo from Queens Chronicle
From the Queens Chronicle:

Rose, a manager at the C-Town Supermarket on Cross Bay Blvd. in Ozone Park, is usually busy helping her customers find what they’re looking for.

But lately, she’s been talking about the bus lanes right outside her business rather than what’s on sale.

“I was speaking to a customer just now about it,” said Rose, who didn’t want her last name published. “Nobody knows what to do right now. The customers are getting confused. They don’t know when they can park or when they’re going to get a ticket.”

Not only that, but the curbside bus lanes — installed as part of the Select Bus Service project for Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards — have led to a decline in the number of people shopping at the supermarket, located at 107-66 Cross Bay Blvd.

And that’s impacting the bottom line.

Giant hotel coming to LIC

From the Queens Gazette:

The owner of two lots located at 38-22/38-26 11th Street in Long Island City has filed plans to develop a hotel a the site.

The two properties feature a combined 48,640-square-feet of commercial space for the hotel – 85 rooms that feature direct access to the hotel lobby, reception and business center.

The plans also call for seven parking spaces in an area filled with hotels, near the 21st Street/Queensbridge “F” subway station and the Queens Plaza transportation hub.

The history of often overlooked Blissville

From Brick Underground:

Blissville, a slice of Long Island City bordered by Calvary Cemetery, the Long Island Expressway, and Newtown Creek, is a rough-hewn, mostly forgotten outpost of New York City.

Once a bustling industrial hub, most of Blissville today is occupied by warehouses, auto repair shops, and yes, there are still some factories. There is also a light sprinkling of homes and storefronts, and much of the building stock dates back to the 19th century. Calvary Cemetery looms along the length of Greenpoint Avenue, the main drag of the neighborhood. The walls surrounding the cemetery, and some of the nearby streets, are littered with broken bottles and other trash, giving today's Blissville an unloved look. The gated cemetery is the only swath of green in the neighborhood—there are no parks or playgrounds.

In the neighborhood’s odoriferous glory days in the 19th century, its location on the banks of Newtown Creek is what made Blissville a place to know. By the 1850s, the creek’s banks were lined with glue factories, smelting and fat-rendering plants, refineries, foundries, and other heavy industries, connected to the rest of the country by trains that ran through the area. Now, not coincidentally, the creek is among the most polluted bodies of water in the country.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Huge project proposed for Anable Basin

From Curbed:

A longtime Long Island City property owner is seeking a waterfront rezoning that will allow it to bring a 5.8 million gross square foot mixed-use development to the area surrounding Anable Basin, just north of the Hunter’s Point South redevelopment.

Under the proposal by Plaxall Realty, 14.7 acres would be rezoned to accommodate 5,000 condos and rentals, 335,000 square feet of creative production and light manufacturing space, 3.1 acres of public waterfront esplanade, and up to 30,000 square feet of community space. It would also bring a 700-plus seat public school to the neighborhood, outside of the rezoning area.

2 Queens slumlords make PA's top 10 list of bad landlords

From the Queens Tribune:

Public Advocate Letitia James ranked two city landlords with properties in Ridgewood among the city’s 10 worst in her annual Worst Landlords Watchlist, which was released on Tuesday.

James’ list is a database that ranks the worst landlords in the city based on monthly updates of open violations. Silvershore Properties’ Jonathan Cohen—who owns a property at 17-08 Summerfield St. in Ridgewood, which has a total of 116 violations—was ranked as the city’s worst, while Meir Fried—who owns a property at 16-45 Summerfield St. in Ridgewood, which has a total of 28 violations—came in at number eight. Both landlords primarily own buildings in Brooklyn.

Queens properties with the most violations included Hillside House Management Co.’s site at 87-40 165th St. in Jamaica—which ranked first and had 383 violations—and Nada Gracin’s property at 150-15 Sanford Ave. in Flushing, which had 244 violations.

Holden's ballot lead stands

From NY1:

City Councilman Elizabeth Crowley acknowledged Wednesday night that her opponent's margin of victory held during a tally of absentee ballots Wednesday in a very close Queens city council race.

The Board of Elections said it will not certify the result until it certifies all the races, as it does every election.

Sources from Crowley's opponent, Republican Robert Holden, have told NY1 that he has won the race for the 30th city council district.

Holden declared victory on Election Day, even though he was ahead by only 133 votes.

It appears his lead has grown by four votes, although the total has not been confirmed.

Well this is getting very interesting. And check these quotes from Holden in the Times Ledger:
“This mayor wants a one party socialist Marxist regime and anyone who thinks differently than him is the enemy,” Holden said. “He judges people based on labels and that is something he should be against. Instead he bad mouths the Republican Party as no good and that’s the type of approach that put this country in such a divisive mess. Did I run on the Republican line? Yeah. Am I a registered Democrat? Yeah, but the bottom line is I’m apolitical. I’m a civic leader and I’m going to work with anyone that can help my community and my constituen­ts.”

Holden added the mayor was wrong to launch the 14.7 mile Select Bus Service route on Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards Monday.

“It’s such a disaster. People are sitting in traffic jams for hours. It’s just another bad policy from this administration, and one of the reasons I got so many votes,” Holden said. “He wants to take away our cars, he doesn’t understand Queens at all. The traffic is crippling all over the borough and all we get is more bike lanes and more SBS lanes. The administration is taking away one of our basic rights — the freedom of movement — you can’t just get in your car and go anymore.”

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Woodhaven Blvd at a standstill due to new bus lane

From CBS:

A new bus lane on Woodhaven Boulevard is causing a traffic nightmare.

Drivers said their rush hour commutes have nearly doubled since the change.

Cars were backed up for miles on Woodhaven Boulevard on Tuesday night, and drivers say it’s being caused by the select new bus service.

One lane of traffic is now for buses only — no cars allowed.

Trottenberg said the DOT redesigned the pinch points and corridors in the hope of creating three lanes of traffic that move. The problem is in rush hour it doesn’t.

There are people who say it has added an hour to their commute.

DOC commish made personal trips on city time

From the Daily News:

Correction Commissioner Cynthia Brann and eight top staffers have reached settlements in the wake of a damning probe that found they used city cars for personal travel.

The city Conflicts of Interest Board revealed the agreements six months after former commissioner Joseph Ponte resigned over his role in the scandal.

Brann paid a $6,000 fine after she was found to have used her city car to make 13 trips to shopping malls and three to Kennedy Airport at a time when she was a deputy commissioner.

"At the time, I erroneously believed that I was allowed to use my DOC (Department of Correction) take-home vehicle for all personal travel in case a DOC emergency required my immediate response and travel to a DOC facility,” she said, according to a disposition released Tuesday.

Brann ran afoul of the Conflicts of Interest Board again when she enlisted a subordinate to help her pay the fine.

The Queens-based Brann complained to an underling that it was difficult for her to obtain a certified check or money order because she didn’t have a New York bank account.

The pair came up with a way around the problem — she would write him a personal check for the amount of the fine, and he would obtain a cashier’s check drawn from his personal account.

But Brann later acknowledged that such an agreement violated a conflicts of interest law prohibiting public servants from using their positions to obtain a personal favor from a subordinate.

NYCHA lied about inspecting for lead paint

From PIX11:

The New York City Housing Authority failed to conduct lead paint safety inspections for four years beginning in 2013, according to a new report by the city’s Department of Investigation. The DOI further alleges NYCHA then lied about the inspections to Federal housing authorities.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

ICE cracking down on DUI offenders

From PIX11:

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested more than two dozen undocumented immigrants during an operation cracking down on those with convictions for driving under the influence.

All but one of the 25 arrested in November had a previous DUI-related conviction, officials said. The other individual was arrested for immigration violations.

One of the men arrested, a 35-year-old previously removed Honduran man, also had been convicted of assault. A 40-year-old Salvadoran national has been identified as an alleged MS-13 gang member.

Lancman wants taxpayer-supported journalism

Op=ed by Rory Lancman from the Daily News:

Obviously, the private marketplace hasn’t figured out a way to do local journalism and make money at the same time. Since the rise of the internet, it’s a devilishly difficult code to crack.

Which is why, as taxpayers and citizens, we owe it to ourselves to step in and fund organizations capable of providing this vital civic resource: call it a tote bag in every pot.

Government support for quality journalism is not a new or radical idea. Its role in distributing the mail, providing health care, and offering free book-lending and museums is taken for granted.

We badly need more good local journalism. If the market can’t provide it, taxpayers must step up.

Considering that the local papers are still around and are printing holiday ads and press releases by pols verbatim, it appears we already have taxpayer-funded journalism.

Audit reveals that BOE is a mess

From the Times Ledger:

A report from city Comptroller Scott Stringer exposed massive dysfunction within the Board of Elections in a report which audited its performance over the course of three elections in 2016.

The city, which has one of the lowest voter turnouts in the nation, has disenfranchised the public through dumped voter rolls and widespread inefficiency at over 53 percent of the poll sites reviewed where state and federal election laws were broken, according to the audit promised by Stringer in April 2016.

The report revealed that out of 156 polling sites, 14 percent had mishandled affidavit ballots for people eligible to vote but who may not on the rolls. One site failed to inform voters of the option to vote via affidavit, a violation of federal law, and thus “disenfranc­hising” individuals.

Up to 10 percent of poll sites showed many voters went unassisted when issues arose. One example given by the report said a scanner had rejected a ballot and the distracted poll site worker did not notice until the person had already left. Staff at the site were forced to void the ballot and the person’s vote was not counted.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Suspension-busting pothole on Northern Blvd next to new bike lane

De Blasio not a developer's dream (but still pretty bad)

From Commercial Observer:

Gone are the grand visions of urban redevelopment that rose Athena-like from the City Hall bullpen under Mayor Michael Bloomberg. De Blasio has retained lofty language to describe his ideas—adding adjectives like “transcendent” and “historic” when presenting proposals. But his attempts to remake swaths of the city in a Bloombergian manner have sputtered.

Sunnyside Yards in Queens, where the mayor hopes to build an 11,000-unit affordable housing complex on top of a platform, is a years-long dream that may never be realized. His transit plans, including a $2.5 billion streetcar project along the Brooklyn-Queens waterfront and a new subway line through Utica Avenue, haven’t gotten past preliminary stages. And his administration has equivocated over the future of Willets Point, where the courts blocked plans to build a mall and 2,500 units of housing on the blighted site next to Citi Field.

Instead, de Blasio made affordable housing the centerpiece of his agenda and touted pro-tenant measures, including rent freezes for rent-stabilized units.

“The real estate community, like any other business sector, prefers certainty,” explained Ken Fisher, a Cozen O’Conner attorney and former councilman. “After four years of working with Bill de Blasio and his team, people have a pretty good idea of expectations. He has a strong preference for affordable housing, but the mayor has taken a very clear position that he’s for many different kinds of housing development, not just low-income housing.”

De Blasio made that clear in his 2015 State of the City address when he proclaimed that the other successes of his administration would be at risk if the city and developers didn’t build enough housing for residents of all income levels.

Lefferts Blvd station repairs still incomplete

From Impunity City:

The renovation and modernization of the Lefferts Blvd. Station remains incomplete and nearly 2 years behind schedule. This was supposed to be complete in September 2016.

When I last wrote about this, it was with great relief that the staircase was repaired and accessible again. Also the encrusted vile, unsanitary and health hazardous pigeon shit that piled up on the turnstiles and the partition walls was finally scoured somewhat. I attribute this to an actual televised report way back in late May by CBS New York’s Reena Roy.

Now when I wrote that I would write back in a month, being July, was around the time when Mario’s Son, Governor Andrew Cuomo proclaimed commuting on your city’s subway was in the midst of a summer of hell and ordered a fast tracking of repairs all over our lousy transit system. An encouraging sign appeared at this station promising the station’s completion, including the monstrous elevator which hogs half the sidewalk on the corner by September 16 or the end of the 3rd quarter.

Look how they creatively fixed the date on the sign with the sophistication of a little scamp changing D-'s to A+'s on a report card.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Fresh Meadows day care center permit may be revoked

From the Queens Tribune:

The Great Sunshine Daycare, slated for 172-03 67th Ave., will create chaotic traffic patterns and safety issues for the residential community as parents of as many as 282 children rush to drop off their children, residents said at a Nov. 3 press conference with state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside).

“Parents come, they park illegally, they drop off their kids—sometimes they park in somebody’s driveway, sometimes they double-park or they pull into the site,” Avella said. “Imagine 282 parents, 282 cars.

Nobody’s against a daycare center in principle, but the city of New York should be making sure that these types of facilities go in appropriate locations.”

Traffic in the area is already hectic during school dismissal times with PS 173 just a few blocks away, and the new daycare could cut into property values of the surrounding homes, Avella argued.

Currently, the daycare’s future is uncertain. The facility can be legally built at the property under the current zoning for the area, according to the city’s Department of Buildings. A permit was issued on Feb. 3, but an audit of the project led to a notice to revoke the permit on Nov. 1. The agency took issue with the daycare’s planned placement of a driveway and rooftop recreation area, a spokesman said.