Friday, July 31, 2020

deBlasio and the NYPD lie about court's role in the rise in shootings, and continue to lie about it.

They’re starting to run out of excuses.

The mayor and police have repeatedly blamed a coronavirus-related court shutdown for the explosion of gun violence rocking the city — but firearms cases are making their way through the criminal justice system at the same rate as last year, a Post investigation shows.

The revelations come after The Post showed that the NYPD’s own data did not support those claims that bail reform and early prison releases over coronavirus were driving the spike.

“It’s a combination of things — bail reform, COVID releases from prison, court shutdown, which has Rikers [Island] at half of where they were,” Chief of Department Terence Monahan said in a July 6 press briefing, seeking to explain the 70-percent rise in shootings this year. Commissioner Dermot Shea and Mayor de Blasio have also blamed court closure for the uptick, with Shea calling the tie “indisputable” on Monday.

But the data tells another story.

In December 2019, as the city officials touted a record-breaking low in shootings, there were 2,285 open gun cases in Gotham with 13 percent of suspects awaiting trial, according to an analysis by The Post.

In July 2020, with shootings skyrocketing to 1990s-like levels, the courts had 2,181 open firearms cases and 10 percent in lockup — or 104 fewer pending gun cases, the data shows.

Additionally, of the 1,957 people facing gun charges out on the streets in July — which is 27 fewer than in December — only 2 percent, or 39 people, were busted again for a firearm, according to the data obtained by The Post.

There were also more gun and murder arraignments from April to June compared to October through December last year, with 819 over the three-month period this year compared to 642 last year, court data shows.

NY Post

The buck continues to stop everywhere but on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s desk.

Hizzoner once again attacked the messenger Thursday rather than address a new Post article that found firearms cases are going through the criminal justice system at the same rate as last year — refuting his claims that a coronavirus-related court shutdown is most responsible for this summer’s surge in shootings

“I have not seen The Post article and I don’t always get accuracy from that publication,” de Blasio sniffed during a virtual City Hall press briefing when asked about the damning piece by a Wall Street Journal reporter.

In December 2019, there were 2,285 open gun cases in Gotham with 13 percent of suspects awaiting trial, according to the Post analysis based on NYPD and court data. In July 2020, the courts had 2,181 open firearms cases and 10 percent in lockup — or 104 fewer pending gun cases, the data shows.

There were also more gun and murder arraignments from April to June compared to October through December last year, with 819 over the three-month period this year compared to 642 last year, court data shows.

De Blasio tried to discredit those numbers — before realizing they came from his own police department.

“Anyone can try and manipulate a statistic,” he said.

When the Journal reporter pointed out the data were NYPD statistics, de Blasio refused to back down.

“It’s a publication that historically has provided inaccurate information. It may be accurate statistics in this case, but I’m just not going to be gentle about the point that when there is a history of inaccuracy and an axe to grind it’s worth saying,” de Blasio fumed at The Post, rather than addressing the issue at hand.

“There is no one claiming the court system is functioning as normal. There’s just no one doing it,” de Blasio flailed.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Ciafone loses Queens Civil Court primary

Total votes: 102,908
(96.53% precincts reporting)


Image of

John Ciafone

Image of

Jessica Earle-Gargan

Monday, July 27, 2020

City's Get Food deliveries for poor people devastated by the pandemic gets dumped on the curb

NY Post

Piles of unopened boxes of emergency city coronavirus meals meant for the poor were found dumped on the side of a Queens underpass Monday.

The outrageous sign of waste — after Mayor Bill de Blasio predicted up to 2 million New Yorkers would go hungry this summer amid the pandemic — was enough to make passers-by sick.

“Why wouldn’t you go give it to people in the streets?” local resident Juan Heno said of the 34 brown cardboard boxes of food piled on top of each other along a concrete wall below the Queens Midtown Expressway, around 57-45 74th St., in Middle Village.

“The city has a lot of homeless right now,” Heno noted to The Post.

The resident said he spotted the boxes — slapped with white labels and black lettering reading, “GetFoodNYC, COVID-19 Emergency Food Distribution, Packed on July 24th, Delivery by July 31st” — in the broiling heat around 9:30 a.m.

He said he called the city’s 311 hot line and was told someone would pick them up — but they were still laying out in the sun more than eight hours later.

Inside the boxes — part of the de Blasio administration’s much-touted program to feed the hungry during the country’s economic crisis — were plastic containers filled with food.

Some of the containers, marked “VEGETARIAN” and “CONTAINS NUTS,” held a bag of multigrain pretzel Pepperidge Farm goldfish, what appeared to be a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich and a small plastic container with part of a granola bar.

PB & J and pretzel fish crackers is a vegetarian meal. This administration's warped semantics manifests itself even when they are being charitable. Soulless.

Spoiler alert: this should have been expected when the Sanitation Dept. was tasked to handle the logistics and distribution of this emergency program.

Ozone Park Patch


A week ago, I photographed a massive cave-in on the intersection of Liberty Ave. and 96th St. and wrote a post on it called Holes in the Ozone. It got the attention of Queens Patch's twitter account and they retweeted my initial tweet about this road hazard to Polly's D.O.T. Well color me impressed when I went back a week later and see it fixed.




 Looks like someone left, actually lodged a Capri Sun juice bag here for some reason.


 Let's see what we find..


 Shame on you. D.O.T., even drivers are afraid to go over it.


Apparently, this pathetic Ozone Park Patch job is an established norm. Because this is what I found a block east on 97th.



 Your city would prefer vehicle owners to get adjusted to this. Because the Mayor has a Black Lives Matter mural by Trump Tower to protect from getting splattered with paint. 

Shame! from ithinkchaos on Vimeo.

Making campaign money rain

Queens County Politics

 The Campaign Finance Board’s (CFB) released the latest campaign finance filings for the upcoming 2021 election races Wednesday. 
Candidates opting into the city’s public financing for elections, a program through which they receive $8-to-$1 taxpayer match on certain campaign contributions, are required to file CFB disclosure reports.

The filings reveal who might take the lead, at least in fundraising, in the city’s upcoming mayoral and comptroller races, as well as in the 13 out of 15 city council seats in Queens up for grabs. 

In the mayoral race, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and City Comptroller Scott are raking in the dough. Adams reported raising $2,593,345 in private funds, while Stringer reported $2,788,831.

Two other mayoral hopefuls filed. City Council Speaker Corey Johnson reported $859,394 and Shaun Donovan, a former housing secretary and budget director under former President Barack Obama, and housing director under former Mayor Mike Bloomberg, reported $662,003.

In what is so far looking like a two-person race for City Comptroller, Park Slope City Councilmember Brad Lander has hauled in $650,142 while Harlem State Sen. Brian Benjamin’s has raised $462,327.

In Queens, the 13 of the 15 city council seats are up for grabs. Of the incumbents eligible to run again, only City Councilmember Adrienne Adams filed with the CFB. She reported that she’s raised $14,950 so far in her bid to protect her seat in District 28.

The other incumbent, City Councilmember Robert Holden, did not do a filing as of post time.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Gentrification is no panacea for rising crime wave

They’re murders that never, ever should’ve happened in “New” New York–but did and continue to happen at an alarming rate in 2020. I’m not just talking about the senseless drive-bys now revisiting inner city communities with a vengeance. I am also talking about an uptick in attempted murders at tourist traps and homicides in tony neighborhoods–and of the likes not seen since the days when The NY Post ran its infamous, “Headless Body in Topless Bar” headline.

These recent murders particularly make my blood boil, because they’re clearly the indirect result of an incredibly smarmy Robert Mose-ian plan designed to “clean up New York.” The plan was this: let’s get rid of all the disgusting immigrant, minority, bohemian and working class slobs and replace them with “better” people. Once the icky scum are gone, NYC will be a crime and vice-free utopia to rival that of Japan’s. Hell, it’ll be such a cakewalk keeping the peace that policing will be a matter of just kicking back, standing around in an officious manner and occasionally roughing up a few “hood” teenagers. No need to actively police the city with so many affluent white and foreign national gentrifiers walking around with their Starbucks coffee cups and Whole Foods shopping bags in tow. It’s all good!

It was a plan that seemed bulletproof (no pun intended). And now all of a sudden–after years of urban planners, developers and neoliberal politicians successfully wiping out imagined hives of scum and villainy in NYC–violent crime is skyrocketing. It’s skyrocketed to such an extent that we’ve effectively erased the past 25 years of progress. If things get any worse, NYC will be right back to where it was in the 1970s, except without the cool colorful local characters, distinctive neighborhoods and vibrant cultural scenes that still made living here a badge of honor.

The most ironic thing about this new crime wave is that the grisliest murders seem to be occurring in those very neighborhoods that have been the heaviest hit by gentrification. The worst one–and sounding like something straight out of American Psycho (or Hannibal, for you young ‘uns)–took place last week at a brand spanking new luxury development on The Lower East Side. A 21 year old tech bro casually followed his boss (Fahim Saleh) into an elevator, murdered him under security’s watch, then proceeded to dismember him with a saw before being scared off by a visitor on a welfare check.

Man wearing Black Lives Matter merch robs gas station at gunpoint

 Impunity City Astoria, two men held up and robbed a gas station at gunpoint, grabbing $450 from the register and the cashier's cellphone. One of the thieves was wearing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt and BLM cap. This not only shows how he denigrated the social justice movement with his criminal act, but also sadly showed how the movement's slogan has been reduced and devolved into a commercial brand.

Ready on the left

More insurgents claim primary wins 3

Absentee counts are proving a repeat of the blue progressive wave of 2018.

As of Wednesday night, the absentee ballot count yielded several more victories for insurgent Democratic primary candidates for Assembly across western and southern Queens.

Progressive challengers Jenifer Rajkumar, Jessica González-Rojas and Zohran Mamdani each claimed victory over incumbents, based on unofficial counts. The outlier to the trend is senior Assemblymember Jeff Aubry (D-Corona), who was able to expand his lead over challenger Hiram Monserrate in the aftermath of election day.

The next step is for the Board of Elections to certify the results. The general election is Nov. 3.

Rajkumar, an Indian-American lawyer from Woodhaven, came out with 3,624 votes to Assemblyman Mike Miller’s (D-Woodhaven) 1,469 total.

Rajkumar’s apparent win in Assembly District 38, which stretches over Woodhaven, Ridgewood, Richmond Hill, Ozone Park and Glendale, would make her the first South Asian woman to be elected to the state Legislature. She noted that her campaign came out on top in every single election district, and that she won by the largest margin of any Assembly candidate in the election cycle.

“Our campaign had been able to achieve the near impossible by winning with a margin of 27 percentage points during a global pandemic. When the people of South Queens needed a leader, our office was the first to show up, setting up a 24/7 Coronavirus response team that operates in seven languages,” said Rajkumar. “As President John F. Kennedy once said: ‘The life of service is a constant test of your will.’”

Donovan Richards wins Dem primary for Queens BP

Richards wins as Crowley concedes 1

Queens Chronicle

Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton) will be the Democratic nominee for borough president in November.

Former Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley conceded the primary election on Tuesday afternoon, almost a month after voters went to the polls.

“I wanted you to hear it from me first: while the Board of Elections has not officially called the race, and some districts are still getting tallied, the numbers to win are just not with us,” she said in a statement.

Richards replied, calling Crowley a friend and saying, “I admire her commitment to Queens and look forward to working with her to unite our borough moving into November.”

As of election night, June 23, Richards had a nine-point lead over Crowley, with a 37.18 percent to 28.19 percent advantage. The BOE began counting absentee ballots later, and does not release the numbers until all the votes are counted.

Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) had 15.23 percent, retired NYPD Sgt. Anthony Miranda had 14.74 percent and businessman Dao Yin had 4.46 percent of the vote. Constantinides conceded Wednesday.

Richards was endorsed by the Queens County Democratic Committee in late December, which made him an early frontrunner in the race.

What about Elmhurst Hospital, Senator Schumer and Senator Gillebrand?

Queens Chronicle 

Four Queens hospitals that have been designated as “hot spot” care providers during the COVID-19 crisis will begin receiving more than $21.8 million combined from the federal government to offset unreimbursed expenses or lost revenue due to the pandemic.

The funding is part of more than $680 million allocated to 86 New York State hospitals in a new $10 billion relief package. U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) said in a joint press release on Saturday that the money is in addition to $4.3 billion secured for frontline hospitals in April; and that the new funding should begin this week.

Flushing Hospital Medical Center is in line for $11,265,905. St. John’s Episcopal Hospital in Far Rockaway will receive $8,700,257. Jamaica Hospital Medical Center qualifies for $1,128,335. NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens in Jamaica will receive $760,265.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Elmhurst half-house to be demolished!

Hey all,

One of the very first dung piles featured on this blog was the "Elmhurst Half-House" back on December 9, 2006. This spectacular architectural abortion featured a low-rise attached house converted into a 4 story modern nightmare but still appearing to be attached to its former twin.

Well, the NYIMBY blog brings us the news that demolition permits were filed back in May for the smaller building. The replacement will be 4 stories with 7 units.

I'm not sure which is worse at this point: the house in its current embarrassing condition or the replacement.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Waiting for COVID-19 free test results is the hardest part


A national surge in COVID cases has coincided with agonizing delays for New Yorkers getting tested at free sites run by the city’s public hospitals network.

Patients and staff at some NYC Health + Hospitals sites describe waits far longer than the advertised “three to five days” — a lag that increases risk of potentially exposing others to the deadly coronavirus.

Chelsea Williams-Diggs, 27, got tested at a mobile H+H unit in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, on July 6.
“I was told three days for results and have called twice to make sure there wasn’t an error,” she told THE CITY.

She says she was eventually told that results could take upwards of 10 days, but she was still waiting as of July 20.

One New Yorker who didn’t want his name used said he got tested at an H+H location in The Bronx on July 1 — but didn’t receive results on the system’s MyChart app until July 12.

He said he had quarantined nearly the entire time, but had to go to the grocery store when he ran out of food.

“I was hesitant to go, but needed supplies so I went because it had been so long,” the 31-year-old told THE CITY.

At an H+H testing site in Woodside, Queens, COVID-19 test results are now taking 10 to 14 days to come back, according to an employee who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

“If you’re at the 14-day mark, the test is invalid before you even get the result,” the employee noted. 

“Because assuming nobody is 100% quarantining in those 14 days before receiving the result, it’s highly likely for them to be exposed and become infected.”

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Con Ed telling Midwest Queens residents to stand the heat.

Con Edison

Con Edison is asking customers in certain neighborhoods in Queens to conserve energy while company crews repair equipment. Con Edison has also reduced voltage by 8 percent in the area as a precaution to protect equipment and maintain service as crews make repairs.

The area is bounded by the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and 51st Avenue on the north, the Jackie Robinson Parkway on the south, Queens Boulevard on the east, and the Brooklyn borough line on the west.

The area includes 116,300 customers in the neighborhoods of Glendale, Forest Hills, Forest Hills Gardens, and Middle Village. Con Edison has asked customers in the area not to use energy-intensive appliances such as washers, dryers, microwaves and, if not needed for health or medical reasons, air conditioners, until the equipment problems are resolved.

Customers can report outages and check service restoration status at, or with our mobile app for iOS or Android devices, or by calling 1-800-75-CONED (1-800-752-6633). When calling, customers should report whether their neighbors also have lost power. Customers who report outages will receive updates with their estimated restoration times as they become available.

Customers can follow Con Edison on Twitter or like us on Facebook for general outage updates, safety tips and storm preparation information.

The equipment problems in these neighborhoods have no effect on the rest of the Con Edison system.

Con Edison will provide updates to affected customers directly and through the media as the situation warrants. The company is in communication with New York City Emergency Management.

 Excuse me, but can't other "certain neighborhoods" conserve some energy too?


Sunday, July 19, 2020

Jimmy's got a little bit of bitch in him


Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer has gone AWOL.

He has not answered one question put to him this year by the Queens Post publications—after nearly 10 years of quick responses and lengthy statements.

What’s changed?

The Queens Post ran an article Jan. 20 covering the borough president debate that was held in Sunnyside. The article contained some strong accusations leveled against him by Donovan Richards.

Richards challenged Van Bramer’s anti real estate stance–saying that it was prompted by the emergence of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and that he had taken hefty contributions from the real estate industry for years.

He also said that Van Bramer had supported the Queens County Democratic Machine at times, despite saying he staunchly opposed it.

Our reporter naturally researched Richards’ arguments and reported on them.

She found that Van Bramer had taken tens of thousands of dollars from big real estate developers for many years, while noting that the council member stopped accepting them in 2018.

Additionally, our reporter revealed that Van Bramer had contributed large sums in 2017 to support candidates who were part of the Queens County Democratic machine. She also noted that he backed Joseph Crowley, the leader of the so-called machine, in 2018 when he ran against Ocasio-Cortez.

Van Bramer has ignored the publication ever since that article ran. E-mails and texts to his staff have not been acknowledged.

E-mails last week to Van Bramer’s staff asking him about an anti-Semitic incident in Woodside were ignored.

E-mails asking him about his thoughts pertaining to the development plans in Long Island City–ignored.

Constant texts to Van Bramer’s chief of staff Matt Wallace, who the publication has had a good relationship with for many years, have been unanswered.

Last week, a young freelance reporter of ours looking to launch a writing career managed to get through to Van Bramer. The reporter, 18 years of age, asked him for comment concerning a Sunnysider who had established an outdoor library on Skillman Avenue.

Van Bramer’s response to the reporter: “Yeah… it’s not personal to you. I made a decision in January to not respond to anything from the SP [QueensPost].”

 It's an overused dis, but what a snowflake.

And before the cancel culture creeps come chasing me accusing me of homophobia and sexism, this is only what I'm taking about. 

Developer is about to squeeze an 8 story apartment building in Kew Gardens 

Queens Post

Building permits have been filed for an eight-story mixed-use building on Metropolitan Avenue in Kew Gardens.
The plans call for a 75-foot-tall structure on a site at 132-47 Metropolitan Ave., according to documents filed with the Dept. of Buildings on July 7

The building will contain 21 apartments, with the units on floors 3 through 8. The third floor will also contain an indoor recreation room and an outdoor recreation area.

The second floor will be be dedicated to an ambulatory and diagnostic facility.

The plans also call for 11 enclosed car parking spaces and 11 bicycle spaces on the first floor as well as mechanical rooms and a compactor room.

Jerry Wolkoff, Five Pointz building owner, dead at 83
The Real Deal

" I hate sleeping,” Wolkoff said. “People love sleep. What is that? Did you ever make one penny sleeping? Never.”

Developers are champing at the bit for ULURP approval


Facing growing pressure from the real estate industry, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday that he would restart the city’s land use process in August and intensify the work in September.

The city is launching a new portal called NYC Engage to foster public participation and for community boards to use as they review proposals remotely.

The announcement comes just days after THE CITY reported on the growing frustration over the wait for the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, which has been frozen since mid-March due to the pandemic, to resume.

The City Planning Commission will begin meeting online in August to vote on projects already midway through the usually six-month ULURP process. In mid-September, the Department of City Planning will begin certifying new proposals to begin the six-month review.

“It is time to re-engage the city planning process and move the city forward,” the mayor said at his daily briefing.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

How do you solve a problem like Astoria? You ignore it for a month.


 Crowds of people drinking and dining on the sidewalks of Astoria are drawing ire for flouting social distancing rules and forgoing masks.

The city's 311 hotline received dozens of complaints Friday and Saturday in the two ZIP codes that cover the main commercial drags of 30th Avenue and Broadway, a Patch data analysis found.

The Grand, at 37-01 30th Ave., was the subject of seven complaints Friday of loud music and customers not social distancing.

George Ballis, owner of The Grand, said he's tried asking the crowds to disperse — but that he gets a profanity-laced earful in return.

"I beg them like, guys, please, I don't want to get in trouble," Ballis said. "I understand that the local residents are upset, and I hear their frustration."

 Ballis said he's doing the most he can: He cleans and disinfects the restaurant weekly, makes his employees wear masks and has his bouncers try to get people moving.

"There's nothing that I can do to somebody when they're on a New York City sidewalk," he said. "All I can do is protect my staff."

Across the street from The Grand, partiers outside Blend Astoria racked up eight complaints Friday and Saturday of loud music and a lack of social distancing and face coverings. (Calls to Blend were twice put on hold indefinitely.)

Another three complaints listed 30th Avenue in general, where videos posted on social media showed crowds of maskless partiers on the sidewalk.

"People seem to forget we're in the middle of a pandemic," City Council Member Costa Constantinides said in a statement Sunday. "While I understand the need for people to get out and our small businesses to reopen, we all have a civic duty to continue to practice social distancing, wear a mask and keep others safe. Our healthcare system cannot take another shock from this virus."

This story was posted on June 14 2020 by Maya Kaufman.

Which was a week before Phase 2 that permitted restaurants to serve on tables outside.

How do you solve a problem like Astoria?

The following videos are presented without comment.

Unruly Crowd in Street Throwing Objects at Police @CitizenApp

28th Ave & Steinway St 1:31:51 AM EDT

Friday, July 17, 2020

The homeless shelter warehouse in Glendale is not working out well

Queens Chronicle

 During last Wednesday’s community advisory board meeting regarding the homeless shelter at 78-16 Cooper Ave., a man knocked on the door of Councilman Bob Holden’s (D-Middle Village) office.

The man, a resident of the shelter, said he was strung out on heroin, according to Daniel Kurzyna, Holden’s chief of staff.

He was previously at a shelter in Brooklyn, where he was provided methadone to fight his addiction.

“He now does drugs, begs on the street, panhandles and harasses residents in the area when they walk past the shelter,” Kurzyna wrote in an email to Amanda Nasner, Queens borough director at the Department of Homeless Services.

Holden blasted the DHS in a statement.

“Placing this shelter in the middle of our community over our objections has done nothing but increase crime, drug use, and calls to the police, while decreasing the quality of life,” he said Monday.

The lawmaker, a longtime critic of the shelter, said DHS Commissioner Steven Banks should be fired and called service provider Westhab “inept” at operating the Glendale site.

“Hundreds of calls to police this year have taken already limited police staff away from the rest of the community,” Holden said. “This shelter is a total disaster for the residents and the surrounding community, as we always knew it would be.”

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Holes in the Ozone


Impunity City

 It was about a year ago that I wrote a post called Affixing A Hole, observing and photographing grotesque cracks and craters on the streets and storm drains and the innovation that gets implemented by the city’s Department’s of Transportation and Environmental Preservation to deter people away from the hazards. Now it’s 2020 and it looks like shit hasn’t changed a bit.

The NYPD is banned from applying chokeholds during arrests

NY Post

Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a suite of six NYPD reform bills Wednesday, including a ban on chokeholds, while acknowledging concerns that the new laws will make it harder for cops to do their jobs.

“People want to be safe. They need to be safe. They want to work with the NYPD and they want respect in turn,” de Blasio said while signing the legislation package in the Bronx after joining activists to paint “Black Lives Matter” on Morris Avenue between between 161st and 162nd streets.

“I also want to be honest when there are concerns out there. It makes sense to talk about it, not to run away from it,” de Blasio said.

On the bill that will make it a criminal offense for cops to use chokeholds, de Blasio said, “I know many in the police department including many I truly respect are concerned.

“Because although they agree 100 percent and it’s been the policy of the police department, we cannot have chokeholds, there’s concern around some of the additional language around diaphragms.”

In addition to criminalizing chokeholds, the bill includes a prohibition on other restraints of a person’s diaphragm or ability to breathe such as sitting, kneeling or standing on someone’s chest or back.

Interesting that the Blaz wants to have conversations about policing policy now when he was pretty comfortable excusing the tactics employed by his NYPD during the George Floyd protests and his idiotic curfew.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

22,000 votes got spoiled in Queens election results

Queens Eagle

New York’s arcane election laws are preventing some candidates and election observers from reviewing nearly 22,000 invalidated ballots, say a group of Queens political activists.
The Board of Elections only allows candidates and election attorneys to review copies of ballot envelopes deemed invalid if they receive a court order to do so. A spokesperson for the BOE, Valerie Vazquez, said people who request copies of the envelopes with a court order also receive a notation of the preliminary determination, which explains why an absentee ballot was tossed by election officials. It could be that the envelopes were filled out incorrectly or were not postmarked, she said. Campaigns, usually through election attorneys, can then challenge those disqualifications.
Overall, 21,980 ballots were preliminarily disqualified, according to a handwritten breakdown provided by BOE officials to members of the New Reformers, a political organization that represents a slate of candidates for Democratic district leader positions. 
  In an email exchange shared with the Eagle, BOE attorney Steve Richman told attorney Arthur Schwartz, who represents 20 Queens candidates, that the candidates did not submit a request to review ballots by a Wednesday morning deadline. Schwartz countered that the deadline applied to a review of registration records and not to observe invalidated absentee ballot envelopes.
“Why do you have to be Mr. Difficult. Let the observers look at the envelopes which aren't being opened. Maybe it will enhance your reputation of being open and transparent,” Schwartz wrote.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Trump wears the mask

Header media

W.W.R.D.? (What will Reynoso do?)

Hi folks,

One of the advantages of having a blog with longevity is that you get to follow the tweeding stories as they unfold. Then you get to call out the tweeders on their BS. Let's take a little trip down memory lane...

It was 2014, and a lot in Ridgewood close to the Bushwick border was being rezoned to allow a filthy eyesore truck lot to be transformed into a gleaming new residential project. Hopes were high that the developers would include affordable housing in their plans. The electeds got to work:

From the Times Ledger:

Some argued the rents described by developers — with studios going for about $1,000 and two-bedroom apartments renting for up to $1,800 a month — would not be affordable to most in Ridgewood and invite an influx of young, wealthier inhabitants...

Katz’s nod of approval came with two suggestions. She requested an unspecified number of apartments be reserved for those making 60 percent of the area’s median income and urged a different commercial overlay be used to recruit a wider array of businesses.

An applicant representative said the landlord would be willing to use the zoning suggested by Katz during the June 11 Planning Commission hearing, application documents show.

The spokesman also agreed to permanently offer eight units in the larger development as affordable housing. When prompted by the commission, he committed to increasing this to 20 percent of the building’s apartments provided the city permits a bulkier development than currently authorized by its Inclusionary Housing program.

From DNA Info:

The proposal for the 88-unit building originally had no affordable housing, but developers committed to 50 percent affordable units, along with the affordable community space after discussions with Reynoso's office and community members, the councilman's office said.

"Any project that runs through a ULURP process will need to meet demands of real affordability, and I’m pleased that we were able to achieve that here," Reynoso said.

The affordable units, of which 20 percent will be permanently affordable, will be distributed to people earning between $23,000 to $105,000 per year.

50% of 88 units is 44. 20% of 44 is 8. Eight units will be "permanently" affordable.

Now, let's take a look at what the community actually got, courtesy of Ridgewood Post:

Forty apartments in a newly constructed building in Ridgewood are up for grabs through the city’s affordable housing lottery — but only for those who make at least $61,000 a year.

The building, called the “The Strand,” is located at 18-81 Starr St. It has a mix of studio, one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom units, which cost upwards of $1,797 a month through the lottery.

Residents must make 130 percent of the area median income to be eligible for the lottery.

Ok, so now we're at 40 affordable units instead of 44? Rent for a studio was supposed to be $1000, now it's starting at $1800? Instead of 60% of the median income, the applicants have to make 130%? Minimum income of $23,000 has now become $61,600?

So, Antonio Reynoso, what are you going to do about this developer pulling a fast one? Or is being complicit with this part of the overall plan?

JQ Update:

Another tidbit from that old DNA article mentions that the developer behind this was the Slate Property Management Group LLC.

You remember those guys right? They were the ones who bought Rivington House for a song from the city and then tried to flip the building to some "mysterious buyer" for luxury condo development for 10 times for what it's worth as de Blasio was busy with his pay to play Campaign for one New York fundraising shenanigans and meetings with his "agents of the city" in city hall.

And speaking of Ridgewood and longevity (you're welcome), the creative geniuses behind Slate joined forces with craft swill makers Rockaway Brewery and attempted to open a pop up beach when this fraudulent affordable housing building was a toxic dirt yard about 4 years ago, which I called out for weeks in my role as a muckraking commenter back in the day.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Small businesses in Queens get smaller PPP rescue loans

Queens Eagle

 Nearly 21,500 Queens-based businesses received a loan of less than $150,000 through the federal Paycheck Protection Program, newly released data from the federal government shows. 

The PPP loans totaled $602,995,888 and enabled those Queens businesses to retain 72,765 employees, according to the data. The loan program, designed to help small businesses continue paying employees during the COVID-19 economic slowdown, passed as part of the federal CARES Act in April.

The data is included in two massive spreadsheets released Monday by the federal Small Business Administration in response to Freedom of Information Act requests and pressure from elected officials.

One spreadsheet lists companies that received more than $150,000. Despite the intention that the PPP loans go to small businesses, some of the country’s largest corporations received funding, including McDonalds and Wendy’s franchises. The SBA named all businesses that received more than $150,000.

A second spreadsheet included companies that received less than $150,000, but the federal government did not name them. Instead, the spreadsheets include the loan amount, business zip code and the town — or in the case of most Queens businesses, the neighborhood. The spreadsheet also includes each firm’s North American Industry Classification System number, a code used to classify a company’s type of business.

The data dump shows that 21,480 companies with Queens zip codes received PPP payments of less than $150,000. They range from a South Ozone Park information services firm that received $2 to a Whitestone construction firm that took in $149,990, according to the data.

The average loan amount was about $28,072 and the median loan was $16,710, according to an analysis of the data, but some of the data may be flawed, said Tom Grech, president of the Queens Chamber of Commerce.

Extremely low loan amounts, like the $2 listed for the South Ozone Park company, may have been typos by the SBA, Grech said.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

The 71% and the 75%



The 25%


The New York City housing market is in crisis as tenants are unable to pay their rent due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report from Bloomberg Businessweek.

A quarter of the city's renters have not paid rent since March, the report said, citing information from the Community Housing Improvement Program, which represents landlords of rent-stabilized buildings.

As renters fail to pay, landlords are lacking funds to pay their own bills, so the city could see hundreds of millions of dollars in delinquent property tax payments, according to the Bloomberg report.

More than 735,000 households in New York City have lost income due to the pandemic, according to the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy. An estimated 526,000 of these households filed for unemployment insurance and one in four households now face eviction, according to the center.

Despite the pandemic and budget cuts, plans to build the borough tower jails still proceed


Officials at a senior citizens’ residence next to a Lower Manhattan jail say they were told by city officials that they’ll have a few extra months before demolition starts next door.

The Manhattan Detention Complex’s knockdown is being delayed from next March to June or July, according to Charlie Lai, executive director of the Chung Pak building for seniors, which is adjacent to the jail and is scheduled to receive protective upgrades before the demo work starts.

“That will give us only 12 months or so to complete everything,” he said, including shielding for a rooftop solarium and new windows. “I am extremely anxious about, you know, getting it started so that the building has its own envelope of safety.”

The call to Lai last week from the city’s affordable housing agency marked one of the latest signs that the de Blasio administration’s 10-year, $8.7 billion plan to replace Rikers Island with smaller jails in every borough except Staten Island has hit some early snags.

Another sign: some recent pandemic-spurred funding changes, which prompted one Lower Manhattan community group to crow this week: “We have saved Chinatown for now.”
But city officials said the plan to demolish and replace the 24-story jail tower known as The Tombs is still a go — along with the rest of the planned new lockups.

“There have been no cuts to funding for borough-based jails and the city remains committed to closing Rikers and building a jail system that is smaller, safer, and more humane,” said Maggie Halley, a spokesperson for the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Neir's perseveres

NY Post

Before the pandemic, things were looking dire for the historic watering hole Neir’s Tavern in Woodhaven, Queens. It nearly closed due to a threatened rent increase  — the bar was paying around $2,000 a month, which was going to go to $5,400, according to owner Loycent Gordon — until 

*Mayor Bill de Blasio stepped in and helped strike a deal with the new landlord to keep the doors open. But when the city went into lockdown in March, the bar seemed like a goner.

“When this happened after we got Neir’s a new lease on life, it felt a punch in the gut just as we were catching our breath,” Gordon, who is also a lieutenant in the FDNY, told The Post.

But once again, the Lazarus of saloons is back slinging burgers and beers — now with outdoor seating and a range of creative ideas to engage regulars, who Gordon said really saved the place.

“People came out for the first weekend despite us not having the most sophisticated set-up. We are focusing on our strengths and have whittled down our menu to fries, sweet potato fries, burger and wings,” said Gordon, 40, who bought the bar in 2009 when it was under threat of being turned into a convenience store.

Founded in 1829, Neir’s houses a 150-year-old mahogany bar and has provided a scenic backdrop for movies including “Goodfellas and “Tower Heist,” and was featured in an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown.” It also, Gordon points out, survived the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

City defunds the police by abolishing placard abuse enforcement

NY Post

City Hall has pulled the plug on its latest effort to tackle rampant placard abuse by municipal employees, shutting down the NYPD unit meant to enforce the most recent crackdown.

Officials said Friday they are axing all 116 positions that were dedicated to placard enforcement through attrition and zeroing out the unit’s $5.4 million annual budget — just a little more than a year after Mayor Bill de Blasio rolled out the effort to great fanfare.

“A dedicated unit is no longer needed because we are enhancing enforcement coverage by introducing new technology and other advancements that allow any TEA to do this work more seamlessly,” said City Hall spokeswoman Laura Feyer, explaining away the budget cuts.

The cuts are projected to remain in effect for at least the next four years — effectively permanently disbanding the effort.

 The de Blasio administration also admitted in response to questions submitted early Friday that officials had yanked just five placards from city employees under de Blasio’s three-strike policy for placard abuse, which was another highly touted policy announced in City Hall’s February 2019 crackdown.

DeBlasio & Council screw community out of better police protection

From the Queens Chronicle:

Residents of Southeast Queens thought 40 years of advocacy and hard work had come to fruition in July 2017 when Mayor de Blasio joined them along with NYPD brass and elected officials in Rosedale, next to the land that was finally going to become the NYPD’s new 116th Precinct.

But with a stroke of his pen, de Blasio transferred the $92 million in capital funding to other projects, including a community center in Roy Wilkins Park in St. Albans.

NYPD critics, including those on the City Council, had advertised that they were looking to cut $1 billion from the NYPD’s operating budget, and much of that was switched to other departments for social service programs.

The NYPD last week told the Chronicle that it was committed to fulfilling its promise to the residents of Southeast Queens.

But the mayor and Council also agreed on more than $530 million in cuts to the NYPD’s capital budget, and the 116th Precinct proved to be too tempting a target.

And one of the most ardent proponents of police reform on the Council — Public Safety Committee Chairman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton) — also was the biggest supporter of the precinct in City Hall.

“I voted against the budget,” Richards told the Chronicle in an interview.

See what they lost out on by caving.


See where all that money that was snatched from the 116th of which it's still being spent on the NYPD is actually going to. What is the "special expense"?

One thing's for sure, the city and the NYPD (and the protesters of Occupy City Hall) feels the residents of Southeast Queens lives aren't that special and don't matter much.



Saturday, July 4, 2020

Happy Birthday America

A hard rain's gonna fall...

Queens Chronicle

A march to support New York’s besieged Police Department ended with an angry confrontation last Sunday night between pro-cop demonstrators and a group of Black Lives Matter activists.

The march, which ended at Juniper Valley Park in Middle Village, looked like a repeat of a similar, peaceful walk earlier in the week — a display of solidarity with cops who have been the target of mass demonstrations in New York and around the country following the death of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer May 25 in Minneapolis.

But as the approximately 60 marchers entered the park after a mile-and-a-half walk through the neighborhood and along Metropolitan Avenue, they were met by about 20 counterprotesters. The counterprotesters carried signs calling for the defunding of the Police Department and accusing the NYPD of protecting “bad cops” on the force.

Heated words were exchanged and the two groups flipped middle fingers at each other, but there was no physical altercation.

“I saw the BLM people walking towards us” at the end of the march, said Phil Wong, one of the organizers of the pro-cop walks. “They were clearly there to start an exchange.”

Police who had been accompanying the march in order to control traffic and keep the walk orderly quickly rushed from the edges of the park when they saw the confrontation shaping up. The cops stationed themselves between the groups, working to calm the potentially serious situation. The two groups exchanged chants. “Black lives matter” drew a response of “All lives matter” from the pro-cop marchers.

No arrests were made.

The weather put a damper on the confrontation. A sudden, heavy downpour sent both groups scurrying out of the park after about 15 minutes. A handful of die-hards remained in the park to hash out their differences in the soaking rain.

Friday, July 3, 2020

And the award for outstanding pyrotechnics goes to...

From NBC:

A neighbor’s security camera shows a group of people standing in a driveway on East 51 Street, setting off fireworks when a roman candle gets fired directly into a bedroom window. Those outside didn’t seem to notice, and continued to light more off for more than five minutes while flames grew inside the house, the fire department said.

The fire grew quickly, soon swallowing the whole back of the house and a car in the driveway. After the group finally saw the smoke and flames, one man could be seen on security footage trying fruitlessly to put out some of the flames using a garden hose.

Fire marshals arrested Damien Bend and charged the 36-year-old with arson after allegedly starting the inferno when he accidentally shot the illegal fireworks into his own home. The FDNY said that Bend only discovered the fire after going inside to get more fireworks to shoot off.