Tuesday, March 2, 2021

How to Talk Out Both Sides of Your Mouth, by Adrienne Adams

If you made it to the end of the video posted yesterday, you witnessed Adrienne Adams do a song and dance over how great Planning Together is and how much more input community boards will supposedly get in the land use process should the bill be passed into law. The video above is bookmarked to where she adamantly asserts this. Then at the end of the hearing, after community board representatives and constituents trashed the bill, her demeanor did a 180.

"Somebody said you didn't hear from your elected officials. We wanted the narrative to go around. So that was very intentional."
That is simply the biggest bunch of malarkey EVER. You were given marching orders to keep mum.

"We wanted to make sure that this legislation was scrutinized from A to Z."
You wanted to slip this bill past the goalie so you didn't bother to notify the public or community boards that it was taking place and they had to find out from a leaked email to council members.

"If we don't have the voice of the people behind this as you all noticed, if you look at who is sponsoring this legislation and I believe it's only one person from Queens on this bill, there's a reason for that as well."
Well, finally a bit of truth!

Adrienne Adams wants to be the next Speaker of the City Council, so she is trying to be a good foot soldier for county and for REBNY. But her constituents are not stupid, so she has to try to play both sides. And guess what? With Ruben Wills back in the picture, she now has to raise money for re-election, nevermind worry about the speaker's race. Calling Marisa Lago "duplicitous" while talking out both sides of your mouth? Hey pot, the kettle's calling.

Monday, March 1, 2021

NYC lobbyists profited from the pandemic and got even more access to city hall

 

NY Post

 The Big Apple’s lobbying industry proved to be nearly pandemic-proof last year despite the COVID-19 outbreak that ravaged New York City, new records show.

For months in 2020, most of the city was in lock down, with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration and the City Council holding virtual meetings and hearings during the pandemic instead.

But well-connected, high powered lobbyists still found a way to rake in bundles of cash from wooing City Hall and the Council for their clients.

The lobbyists raked in $106.34 million in 2020 — just slightly less than $113.2 million in compensation during the 2019 pre-pandemic year, according to a new report from the City Clerk’s Office.

Leading the pack for the fourth consecutive year was Suri Kasirer’s lobbying firm — taking in $14.164 million, nearly matching the $14.3 million earned in pre-pandemic 2019.

One government watchdog wasn’t surprised.

“The seasoned, hot-wired lobbyists still get their phone calls returned. From a client’s perspective lobbyists are more important than ever,” said Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group.

“The top, connected lobbyists can still wield their influence and charge clients the big bucks,” added Horner.

Suri Kasirer’s 32-member firm pressed the mayor and council to provide COVID-19 relief to the hard-hit restaurant and hotel industries. Her clients included ROAR — Relief for the Restaurant Industry — and the Hotel Association of NYC, which has been trying to get the city to defer property taxes and interest fees on hotels that are closed and not generating revenue.

Kasirer’s well-heeled client list also includes Northwell Health, Columbia Presbyterian and Mt Sinai hospital systems. Northwell had been pushing a controversial proposal to expand its Lenox Hill hospital on the Upper East Side, which is facing fierce neighborhood opposition.

The firm’s table of clients last year also included the Target Corporation, T-Mobile USA, IF Cornerstone, which owns part of the vacant Long Island City waterfront property where the aborted Amazon headquarters project was supposed to be located; Charter Communications, Comcast Cable, South Street Seaport, Sotheby’s, Columbia University, the Disney Company, and real estate powerhouses Two Trees Management the Related Company, SL Green Realty and Silverstein Properties; the Archdiocese of NY, Google, the anti-horse carriage group NY-CLASS, etc.

“We are pleased to continue to be the leading advocate in New York City, and are proud to support our clients as they work to reinvest in and rebuild New York as we emerge from the pandemic,” Kasirer said.

“This was a very tough year. This was a year from hell. My clients were struggling to deal with COVID.”

Lobbyist James Capalino’s firm was the second highest compensated firm with $9.9 million — down from $11.9 million in 2019, followed by Bolton-St. Johns, with $6.7 million.

The top ten lobbying firms also included Constantinople & Vallone (includes former Council Speaker Peter Vallone) $5,669,402.00; Pitta Bishop & Del Giorno $4,826,526.51; Greenberg Traurig, $4,571,504.20; Davidoff Hutcher & Citron, $3,240,421; Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver $3,198,924.84; Geto & de Milly Inc., $3,120,500; and CMW Strategies ( Connelly McLaughlin & Woloz), $3,104,899.92.

ROFLOFL: Cojo is running for comptroller

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NY Post 

Council Speaker Corey Johnson is throwing his hat in the ring to run for city comptroller, The Post has learned.

Johnson declined to run for mayor last fall after saying he was struggling with depression amid the coronavirus pandemic.

But he has printed up petitions to gather voter signatures to qualify for ballot status to run in the Democratic primary for comptroller, sources said.

The time for circulating petitions begins on Tuesday and runs through March 25.

Johnson, 38, is also for the first time appearing as a candidate at a comptroller’s forum sponsored by the Jim Owles Liberal LGBT Democratic Club on Saturday — a sure sign that he’s running.

Other candidates invited to attend include Harlem state Senator Brian Benjamin, Brooklyn Councilman Brad Lander and Queens Assemblyman Mark Weprin.

“We are privileged to be the first organization in the city to host Council Speaker Johnson, a prospective candidate, along with Senator Benjamin, Council Member Lander, and Assembly Member Weprin,” Jim Owles club president Allen Roskoff said in a statement announcing the forum.

Roskoff told The Post Sunday night, “If Corey is appearing, he is a candidate.”

While mulling his bid for comptroller, Johnson has been taking on-line classes with Columbia University to earn his college degree.

Brooklyn state Sen. Kevin and Michelle Caruso Cabrera, two other Democratic candidates for comptroller, were not invited to the Saturday forum.

The winner of the race will replace Comptroller Scott Stringer, who is term-limited and considered a leading candidate for mayor.

 

CoJo in a tizzy over perceived bill "misinterpretation"

By this point during the Planning Together hearing, Corey Johnson had grown very frustrated at how cool, calm and collected Marisa Lago was under fire. You can tell because he jumps in the middle of her answering Adrienne Adams' question and goes on a diatribe. Not once, but twice!

If this bill was so great, it wouldn't be misinterpreted.

It's a bit paternalistic for carpetbagging white men like Corey (Massachusetts) and Brad Lander (Missouri) to be informing everyone else that they know exactly what's in their best interest and it involves a bill they simply must pass in their waning days in the Council while they are campaigning for higher office.

Check out Adams' attitude toward the end as well. Tomorrow, we'll delve further into her unenviable predicament. It involves a tweeding dilemma.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

"5 Pointz" "affordable" luxury public housing tower apartments are available for lottery applicants

 

Astoria Post

 More than 330 affordable apartments in Long Island City’s 5 Pointz towers are up for grabs through the city’s affordable housing lottery.

The units are located within in two newly-constructed towers at 22-44 Jackson Ave., where the famous 5 Pointz factory building once stood that was known for its acclaimed aerosol murals.

There are studios, one-bedroom, two-bedroom and a couple three-bedroom units on offer. The studios  start at $1,850 a month.

The units are located within in two newly-constructed towers at 22-44 Jackson Ave., where the famous 5 Pointz factory building once stood that was known for its acclaimed aerosol murals.

There are studios, one-bedroom, two-bedroom and a couple three-bedroom units on offer. The studios  start at $1,850 a month.

An advertisement for the new towers describes them as luxury buildings with “countless” amenities.

“Create your life in the building of your dreams,” the ad reads. “5 Pointz stands out in the heart of a Long Island City neighborhood buzzing with culture.”

The apartments in the new towers are open to people who make at least $63,429 a year, with the income threshold set at 130 percent of the area median income.

There are 78 studio units available for $1,850 a month to households of one to two people who make between $63,429 and $118,300 combined annually.

There are 180 one-bedroom units available for $2,295 a month to households of one to three people who make between $78,686 and $133,120 combined annually.

There are 77 two-bedroom units available for $2,775 a month to households of two to five people who earn between $95,143 and $159,640 combined annually.

Lastly, there are two three-bedroom units available for $3,200 a month to households of three to seven people who make between $109,715 to $183,300.

 Way to take care of the housing insecure and end the tale of two cities, de Blasio.

The Luv Guv came on to an aide during the height of the pandemic

 NY Times 

A second former aide to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is accusing him of sexual harassment, saying that he asked her questions about her sex life, whether she was monogamous in her relationships and if she had ever had sex with older men.

The aide, Charlotte Bennett, who was an executive assistant and health policy adviser in the Cuomo administration until she left in November, told The New York Times that the governor had harassed her late last spring, during the height of the state’s fight against the coronavirus.

Ms. Bennett, 25, said the most unsettling episode occurred on June 5, when she was alone with Mr. Cuomo in his State Capitol office. In a series of interviews this week, she said the governor had asked her numerous questions about her personal life, including whether she thought age made a difference in romantic relationships, and had said that he was open to relationships with women in their 20s — comments she interpreted as clear overtures to a sexual relationship.

Mr. Cuomo said in a statement to The Times on Saturday that he believed he had been acting as a mentor and had “never made advances toward Ms. Bennett, nor did I ever intend to act in any way that was inappropriate.” He said he had requested an independent review of the matter and asked that New Yorkers await the findings “before making any judgments.”

Ms. Bennett said that during the June encounter, the governor, 63, also complained to her about being lonely during the pandemic, mentioning that he “can’t even hug anyone,” before turning the focus to Ms. Bennett. She said that Mr. Cuomo asked her, “Who did I last hug?”

 Ms. Bennett said she had tried to dodge the question by responding that she missed hugging her parents. “And he was, like, ‘No, I mean like really hugged somebody?’” she said.

Mr. Cuomo never tried to touch her, Ms. Bennett said, but the message of the entire episode was unmistakable to her.

“I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared,” Ms. Bennett said. “And was wondering how I was going to get out of it and assumed it was the end of my job.”

Ms. Bennett said she had disclosed the interaction with Mr. Cuomo to his chief of staff, Jill DesRosiers, less than a week later and was transferred to another job, as a health policy adviser, with an office on the opposite side of the Capitol, soon after that. Ms. Bennett said she had also given a lengthy statement to a special counsel to the governor, Judith Mogul, toward the end of June.

Ms. Bennett said she ultimately decided not to insist on an investigation because she was happy in her new job and “wanted to move on.” No action was taken against the governor.

Looks like Cuomo got cocky after that "Cuomosexual" article.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Ruben Willis sprung from prison, seeks to reclaim council seat

 Ruben Wills, 2013. 

Gothamist

Former City Councilmember Ruben Wills, who was convicted of fraud and grand larceny and served two years in prison, is eyeing a political comeback after a State Appeals Court reversed his conviction and returned the case to Queens Supreme Court.

His entrance would likely upend a race where the current City Councilmember Adrienne Adams is running unopposed in the Democratic primary. Wills has name recognition and a story of alleged injustice that could resonate with voters.

Council District 28 includes the Queens neighborhoods of Jamaica, Richmond Hill, Rochdale Village and South Ozone Park. Wills, 49, was first elected in 2010. He went to prison in 2017 after a jury found he used public money awarded to his non-profit, as well as campaign finance matching funds, on personal expenses like a designer bag.

An Appeals Court ruling found that during his trial Wills was “deprived of his ‘right to present evidence by witnesses of [his] own choosing [which] is a fundamental ingredient of due process.’”

A spokesperson for Attorney General Letitia James said prosecutors have not decided yet whether or not to retry the case. Wills’s lawyer, Kevin O’Donnell, said his client had served his sentence and it wouldn’t be wise to spend public funds on an expensive second trial.

“Even if we went to trial and he was convicted the judge would give him the same sentence and he already served it,” said O’Donnell. “I am not sure the effort is worth the result and I certainly hope the Attorney General’s office sees it the way I do.”

The City Council passed a bill earlier this month that disqualifies people convicted of certain felonies, including those that involve public corruption, from running for public offices which the mayor is expected to sign into law on Wednesday. It will prevent other potential candidates, including former State Senator and City Councilmember Hiram Monserrate, from running for office -- but not Wills because his conviction was reversed.

He told Gothamist/WNYC that he thinks the law was designed to benefit those currently in power.

“I'm disappointed in, you know, people who profess to be progressive for the sake of carrying a progressive banner, but then turn around and pass a bill that stops people from having second chances just to protect the incumbency,” he said.


Reynoso doth protest too much

Council Member Antonio Reynoso laced into City Planning Chair Marisa Lago for not supporting the Planning Together legislation but conveniently dismisses his past decisions with regard to land use.

Case in point: He seems to want to expand affordable housing stock, yet famously settled for 8 meager units of affordable housing for an 88-unit project in Ridgewood and then said nothing when the developer pulled a fast one on the affordability.

Furthermore, the land use process starts and ends with the City Council. The council member is lobbied before rezonings ever see the light of day, then they have the final say on whether or not a plan passes into law. So asking the chair of city planning why this horrible process hasn't changed is blue chip deflecting.

This man's chameleon-like behavior and disrespectful demeanor make him unfit to be Brooklyn borough president, which is what his grandstanding is about.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Richard Carranza is done ruining city schools

https://external-content.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=http%3A%2F%2Fww1.hdnux.com%2Fphotos%2F21%2F51%2F42%2F4626576%2F5%2F920x920.jpg&f=1&nofb=1 

Patch 

The leader of New York City's school system will step down amid the coronavirus pandemic and ongoing struggles to achieve equity in classrooms.

Chancellor Richard Carranza announced his resignation Friday after three years. He sat alongside Mayor Bill de Blasio and ticked off accomplishments in dismantling structures and policies of entrenched racism in the school system.

"I'm proud of what we've accomplished over the last three years," Carranza said.

Carranza cited the need to grieve many close to him who died during the coronavirus pandemic as his reason to leave.

"Make no mistake - I am a New Yorker, not by birth but by choice," he said, becoming visibly emotional. "A New Yorker who has lost 11 family members and close childhood friends to this pandemic. A New Yorker who needs to take time to grieve."

Meisha Ross Porter, a Bronx native who now leads its schools, will succeed Carranza. She will be the first Black woman to lead the city's school system — the largest in the country.

"An African American woman will take the helm of the nation's greatest public school system," de Blasio said.

Porter has a long career within the city's schools. She said she'll never forget her own experience in classrooms and as a principal.

"I'm ready to hit the ground running and leave New York City schools to full recovery," she said.

The New York Times first reported Carranza's resignation and highlighted growing tensions between him and de Blasio over integrating schools.

Carranza and de Blasio during their appearance together lavished warm praise on each other. But when asked point blank about reported differences over selective admissions programs and gifted and talented, Carranza largely sidestepped the question.

Instead, Carranza highlighted de Blasio's broad commitment to achieving equity in schools starting with the mayor's push for universal 3-K and pre-K.

Citifield vac site infrastructure is a joke

https://images.squarespace-cdn.com/content/v1/5b9ffe0f1137a680c2c08250/1614267131197-OE3JSNC0HD67UUFNPPJL/ke17ZwdGBToddI8pDm48kBZw6jF4_OvU-ddo_vwqGhp7gQa3H78H3Y0txjaiv_0fDoOvxcdMmMKkDsyUqMSsMWxHk725yiiHCCLfrh8O1z5QPOohDIaIeljMHgDF5CVlOqpeNLcJ80NK65_fV7S1Ub61YCrK70I7JIpWiI8ho4Yi1WvVNQtDE81xuRbL1MFKm0sD-Bab7E9MY8W31A7zMQ/not+enough+staff+citi+field.jpg?format=750w

 

Queens Eagle

Azaz Ahsan and his dad got to Citi Field at 10 p.m. Wednesday for their scheduled COVID vaccine appointment an hour later. By the time they left, it was nearly 3 a.m. Thursday.

After a three-hour wait in the cold, Ahsan, 28, said he and his 65-year-old father entered the warm stadium just before 1 a.m. About 150 people were waiting on line in front of them, while hundreds more queued up in the cold outside the stadium gates, he said.

“Not opening up more of the stadium so the line can be inside is a disgrace,” Azaz said around midnight. 

Joanne Kostopoulos, a 48-year-old teacher from Oakland Gardens, said she decided to leave after waiting close to two hours past her scheduled 9:45 p.m. appointment. She had to be up in the morning to teach class and was told the wait would take at least two more hours, she said.

“[I] decided to leave because I wasn’t prepared to stand in the cold,” Kostopoulos said. “When I found out that I had to wait for one or two more hours before I made it inside I knew I had to leave because between work in the morning and the cold it just wouldn’t be feasible.”

Hundreds of Queens residents spent hours Wednesday night and well into Thursday morning waiting for their scheduled appointments at the 24-hour Citi Field vaccine site. Similar lines formed at another vaccine hub in the Bathgate section of the Bronx.

Once inside, the Citi Field vaccine recipients encountered an understaffed clinic with too few medical workers administering shots, six people told the Eagle. Several others posted photos and accounts on Twitter and Facebook. 

Ahsan said that of the 50 vaccine desks inside, “maybe 15 had nurses at them.” Vaccine recipients also had to fill out the same form twice even if they pre-registered online, he said.

Kambri Crews, who owns Q.E.D. in Astoria, said she waited from about 7:20 p.m. until receiving her shot at midnight. She had an appointment for 8 p.m.

“The nurse who gave me my shot said they didn’t have enough nurses,” she said. “The doctor across from her said he had been there since 7:30 a.m.”

Steven Baker, a 32-year-old human resources professional, shared photos from inside the Citi Field clinic.

“Empty registration and vaccine administration pods,” Baker said. “They're not fully staffed up.”

 Ahsan, Baker, Crews and others interviewed by the Eagle said staff were professional and as helpful as possible, but under strain from the volume of patients. 

They said workers from the city’s Health and Hospitals Corporation told them the delays were due to a surge in rescheduled appointments without the necessary staff increase. Baker said his appointment was postponed due to a supply shortage last week and rescheduled for Wednesday. 

 

Caption Cojo

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I'll start...


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It's Friday and Cojo has seen the light. Go ahead and caption this photo.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Governor Cuomo got screwed by a sex toy company he contracted to make ventilators

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NY Post

 Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration got swindled trying to buy millions of dollars of Chinese medical gear amid the coronavirus crisis — and has been forced to hire a law firm in Hong Kong in a bid to recoup the taxpayer money it lost, The Post has learned.

The state Department of Health signed a $125,000 contract with the overseas lawyers, Gall Solicitors late last year, according to records posted online by the state Comptroller’s Office.

The one-year pact was exempted from a “pre-audit” by Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli under pandemic-related emergency powers Cuomo granted himself on March 7 — and which some lawmakers now want to revoke due to the spiraling controversy over New York’s nursing home deaths.

Earlier this month, The Post exclusively revealed that a top aide privately admitted Cuomo’s administration hid the number of resident deaths in hospitals from lawmakers and the public due to fear that federal prosecutors would use it “against us.” That has sparked calls for Cuomo to be impeached and also a reported federal Justice Department probe.

Officials declined to provide The Post with a copy of the legal retainer contract or details of the underlying dispute.

But a Cuomo spokesman acknowledged that the DOH hired Gall on Dec. 24 “to help us pursue recovery of state funds there, related to procurement.”

“The contract was just approved and papers will be filed soon, and we’ll reserve further comment until then,” spokesman Rich Azzopardi said.

The DOH previously hired the white-shoe law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom to vet its purchases of coronavirus-related medical equipment and supplies.

That agreement was struck on March 1 and could cost taxpayers as much as $1.25 million, according to the comptroller’s website.

“Skadden was retained to provide much-needed expertise to ensure that the lifesaving equipment the State procured met ‎FDA requirements before the equipment was distributed to hospitals,” DOH spokesman Gary Holmes said.

The state rushed into more than $1 billion worth of deals for medical supplies and equipment last year — only to later seek partial refunds amounting to about one-third of the total, the New York Times reported in mid-December, shortly before the DOH hired Gall.

The money at issue included a $12.5 million deposit for 1,000 ventilators from Please Me LLC, a company that had never before sold the high-tech devices but whose product line included sex toys, children’s books and other items, The Times said.

Governing with their dicks

  

Medium

"Let's play strip poker"

I should have been shocked by the Governor’s crude comment, but I wasn’t.

We were flying home from an October 2017 event in Western New York on his taxpayer-funded jet. He was seated facing me, so close our knees almost touched. His press aide was to my right and a state trooper behind us.

“That’s exactly what I was thinking,” I responded sarcastically and awkwardly. I tried to play it cool. But in that moment, I realized just how acquiescent I had become.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has created a culture within his administration where sexual harassment and bullying is so pervasive that it is not only condoned but expected. His inappropriate behavior toward women was an affirmation that he liked you, that you must be doing something right. He used intimidation to silence his critics. And if you dared to speak up, you would face consequences.

That’s why I panicked on the morning of December 13.

While enjoying a weekend with my husband and six-year-old daughter, I spontaneously decided to share a small part of the truth I had hidden for so long in shame and never planned to disclose. The night before, a former Cuomo staffer confided to me that she, too, had been the subject of the Governor’s workplace harassment. Her story mirrored my own. Seeing his name floated as a potential candidate for U.S. Attorney General — the highest law enforcement official in the land — set me off.

In a few tweets, I told the world what a few close friends, family members and my therapist had known for years: Andrew Cuomo abused his power as Governor to sexually harass me, just as he had done with so many other women.

As messages from journalists buzzed on my phone, I laid in bed unable to move. I finally had decided to speak up, but at what cost?

Parts of a supposed confidential personnel file (which I’ve never seen) were leaked to the media in an effort to smear me. The Governor’s loyalists called around town, asking about me.

Last week, Assemblymember Ron Kim spoke out publicly about the intimidation and abuse he has faced from Governor Cuomo and his aides. As Mayor de Blasio remarked, “the bullying is nothing new.” There are many more of us, but most are too afraid to speak up.

I’m compelled to tell my story because no woman should feel forced to hide their experiences of workplace intimidation, harassment and humiliation — not by the Governor or anyone else.

I expect the Governor and his top aides will attempt to further disparage me, just as they’ve done with Assemblymember Kim. They’d lose their jobs if they didn’t protect him. That’s how his administration works. I know because I was a part of it.

I joined state government in 2015 as a Vice President at Empire State Development. I was quickly promoted to Chief of Staff at the state economic development agency. The news of my appointment prompted a warning from a friend who served as an executive with an influential civic engagement organization: “Be careful around the Governor.”

My first encounter with the Governor came at a January 6, 2016, event at Madison Square Garden to promote the new Pennsylvania Station-Farley Complex project. After his speech, he stopped to talk to me. I was new on the job and surprised by how much attention he paid me.

My boss soon informed me that the Governor had a “crush” on me. It was an uncomfortable but all-too-familiar feeling: the struggle to be taken seriously by a powerful man who tied my worth to my body and my appearance.

Stephanie Benton, Director of the Governor’s Offices, told me in an email on December 14, 2016 that the Governor suggested I look up images of Lisa Shields — his rumored former girlfriend — because “we could be sisters” and I was “the better looking sister.” The Governor began calling me “Lisa” in front of colleagues. It was degrading.

The Governor’s staff was directed to tell me I looked like his rumored former girlfriend.

I had complained to friends that the Governor would go out of his way to touch me on my lower back, arms and legs. His senior staff began keeping tabs on my whereabouts. “He is a sexist pig and you should avoid being alone with him!” my mother texted me on November 4, 2016.

The Governor’s senior staff member emailed my supervisor about my whereabouts.

I shared my concern with my mother at the time.

The Governor’s behavior made me nervous, but I didn’t truly fear him until December 2016. Senior State employees gathered at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany to celebrate the holidays and our year’s work. After his remarks, the Governor spotted me in a room filled with hundreds of people waiting to shake his hand. As he began to approach me, I excused myself from coworkers and moved upstairs to a more distant area of the party.

Minutes later, I received a call from an unlisted number. It was the Governor’s body person. He told me to come to the Capitol because the Governor wanted to see me.

I made my way through the underground connection that linked the Plaza to the Capitol. As the black wrought-iron elevator took me to the second floor, I called my husband. I told him I was afraid of what might happen. That was unlike me. I was never afraid.

I exited the elevator to see the body person waiting for me. He walked me down the Hall of Governors. “Are there cameras here?” I asked him. I remembered my mother’s text warning the month before. I worried that I would be left alone with the Governor. I didn’t know why I was there. Or how it would end.

I was escorted into the Governor’s office, past the desks of administrative assistants and into a room with a large table and historical artifacts. The door closed behind me. It was my first time in his Albany office. The Governor entered the room from another door. We were alone.

As he showed me around, I tried to maintain my distance. He paused at one point and smirked as he showed off a cigar box. He told me that President Clinton had given it to him while he served as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. The two-decade old reference to President Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky was not lost on me.

The Governor must have sensed my fear because he finally let me out of the office. I tried to rationalize this incident in my head. At least he didn’t touch me. That made me feel safer.

His inappropriate gestures became more frequent. He gave roses to female staffers on Valentine’s Day and arranged to have one delivered to me, the only one on my floor. A signed photograph of the Governor appeared in my closed-door office while I was out. These were not-so-subtle reminders of the Governor exploiting the power dynamic with the women around him.

In 2018, I was promoted to Deputy Secretary for Economic Development and Special Advisor to the Governor. I initially turned the job down — not because I didn’t want the responsibility or work but because I didn’t want to be near him. I finally accepted the position at the Governor’s insistence with one requirement — I would keep my old agency office and remain on a separate floor from him and his inner circle.

The Governor’s pervasive harassment extended beyond just me. He made unflattering comments about the weight of female colleagues. He ridiculed them about their romantic relationships and significant others. He said the reasons that men get women were “money and power.”

I tried to excuse his behavior. I told myself “it’s only words.” But that changed after a one-on-one briefing with the Governor to update him on economic and infrastructure projects. We were in his New York City office on Third Avenue. As I got up to leave and walk toward an open door, he stepped in front of me and kissed me on the lips. I was in shock, but I kept walking.

I left past the desk of Stephanie Benton. I was scared she had seen the kiss. The idea that someone might think I held my high-ranking position because of the Governor’s “crush” on me was more demeaning than the kiss itself.

After that, my fears worsened. I came to work nauseous every day. My relationship with his senior team — mostly women — grew hostile after I started speaking up for myself. I was reprimanded and told to get in line by his top aides, but I could no longer ignore it.

On September 26, 2018, I sent a mass email informing staff members of my resignation.

NY Daily News 

 Mayor de Blasio, for whom I also worked and knew for 25 years, both at HUD and as New York City mayor, practices a different brand of penis politics. His charming, easygoing personality he had when we worked together in the federal government gave way to a hectoring, inflexible approach that bordered on sanctimony when I was his press secretary at City Hall.

His signature move as mayor was to dig in on an untenable position against the advice of staff, raising the cost of an inevitable defeat. Discussions with staff were marked by condescension, leaving the female staffers feeling especially marginalized. It made for an uncomfortable work environment.

Although the mayor preached a philosophy of egalitarianism, the workplace was pretty much like any other male-dominated environment I’ve been in: Women were interrupted more often and listened to less, whether they were a commissioner or a scheduler. By the end of his first term, the mayor had lost twice as many senior officials who were women than men.

While they had different styles, both Cuomo and de Blasio had one thing in common. Like many powerful men in politics, they create a public image as champions of women’s rights and equality. Behind closed doors, they use gender domination as one means to assert their power over women.

My experience with penis politics wasn’t only in the political arena. I saw it on the basketball court in my Mississippi high school, when I got benched for running better plays than the ones my coach, a man, wanted. I’d seen it as a young journalist, when my male editor refused to run a controversial story that I had well-sourced after the Jackson, Miss., mayor called to complain. I’d seen it in working in Congress, where men tended to get the chief of staff title and women often played receptionist, taking the incoming phone calls placed by angry constituents.

Silence and penis politics often go hand in hand. In 1998 at HUD, I spoke up about a clumsy pick-up attempt Bill Clinton made on me when I was a 26-year-old campaign operative and he was governor of Arkansas. It cost me a Senate-confirmed appointment when Cuomo quietly had the White House pull my nomination. It was penis politics again in 2015, when Cuomo and his “sources” threw bombs at me (and for a while, I threw them back) and then again when de Blasio made it impossible for me to do my job by invalidating what I said to the press on his behalf.

The men who often rule the roost in politics routinely go out of their way to assert their dominance over other men. Over women, doing so is second nature.

Impunity City 

When The Blaz was queried about this article that detailed his duplicitous manner towards and passive aggressive undermining of most of his top female staffers, he reverted to his proclivity for identity politricks by validating his recognition and support of women in his administration and their impact on the city’s policies by citing his tax-boondoggle wife:

“I have not seen the piece, I’ll only talk about the history of this administration, um, from the beginning, literally from the very beginning, the leadership of this administration has been majority, woman and continues to be. My number one advisor, confidante, partner in everything everyone knows is Chirlane. My longest serving aide and person I have depended on and worked so closely with now for over a decade or more, Emma Wolfe. And four out of six deputy mayors are women and throughout this history of this administration, it’s been a female led administration in so many ways and I have tremendous respect for the folks who have been a part of this team”

For the Blaz, the women he appointed to work with and under him in the high echelons in his cabinet are just woke window dressing,  while women working for Cuomo have to develop a tolerance for misogynistic put-downs, creepy flirtations and sneaky kisses. Both of which prove that these two ghouls are truly equals not only in incompetent and unaccountable leadership but also continuing the historic and cultural establishment undermining and objectifying of women in the workplace and should be abolished from running any executive position in government or the private sector.

 

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Alpha-male Brad Lander loses his shit during Planning Together hearing

Brad Lander's toxic masculinity was on full display at the Planning Together City Council hearing yesterday as he ranted and raved and laced into City Planning Director Marisa Lago for tesifying against the bill and giving answers to questions that he didn't like.

You will notice that he uses imagery of "the frog in the boiling pot" 8 times and mentions the "toxic land use process" 5 times. This is very well rehearsed phony outrage.

"All that charter revision did was a 30-day email in advance of a planning process..."
As compared to the City Council not notifying anyone prior to the hearing you are participating in?

"There's no way that communities are going to show up with their hands raised and say 'We'd like to do our fair share, let's engage in planning.'"
That's exactly what was done during the Bloomberg years using the current rezoning process - until Bill de Blasio imposed his will and cut the community out of the picture.

"If you're just going to sit here and criticize this proposal..."
Well yeah, it's YOUR legislation that the hearing is about, so everyone is going to testify about its merits.

"I don't get to ask anymore questions, but you can still go ahead and continue."
Then as she is answering, he interrupts and asks more questions.

So we have an overbearing white guy who wants to be Comptroller berating a very polite and professional and distinguished senior Hispanic female. Bad optics, Brad. And here we thought people from the Midwest were respectful. How about instead of running for Comptroller, you go back to St. Louis and mess with their land use?

Lander is so heated and stupid he doesn't even (or refuses to) see the irony while he repeatedly talks about toxic land use process when the zoning he's so desperate to get for his real estate overlords is the superfund site in Gowanus.-JQ LLC

Governor Cuomo debuts vac center at York College, deflects blame for his policy decisions that caused 15,000 deaths


 This opening was done at 7:30 a.m. and was closed to the press. Pretty slick Andy.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Just a thought following City Council's "Planning Together" shitshow...

Watch Planning Together hearing right here

Popcorn, please!

Eric Adams, candidate for mayor, is pushing to qualify immigrants for the right to vote in city elections

 

NY Daily News

 

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and several lawmakers are pushing the City Council to revisit a bill that would give noncitizen immigrants who legally reside in the Big Apple the right to vote in city elections — possibly in time for this year’s mayoral contest.

The current iteration of the Council legislation seeks to revise the City Charter to permit voting by those it describes as “municipal voters,” a designation that would include immigrants with lawful permanent residency or work authorization who’ve been living in the city for 30 days or longer.

 We cannot be a beacon to the world and continue to attract the global talent, energy and entrepreneurship that has allowed our city to thrive for centuries if we do not give immigrants a vote in how this city is run and what our priorities are for the future,” Adams said. “Especially now during COVID, as immigrant communities face inequities that have led to unequal death and devastation in their communities, it is our moral and democratic responsibility to enfranchise taxpaying, hardworking legal immigrants and give them the voice they deserve.”

Adams, who is running for mayor, and City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, the bill’s sponsor, are planning to make their renewed push for the bill’s passage public Tuesday. Adams is calling on his opponents in the mayoral race to join him in supporting the proposal.

De Blasio opposed to ridiculously expensive Planning Together

From the Daily News: The de Blasio administration is opposing a City Council proposal to simplify the process for future development, saying legislation from Council Speaker Corey Johnson would be way too expensive. The bill...would cost the city about half a billion dollars per decade, the administration estimates — and that at a time of shrinking tax revenues due to the coronavirus outbreak. In the administration’s reading of the bill, every community district in the city would have to undergo assessments of three different development scenarios every 10 years. With an average “environmental impact assessment” costing $2.5 million to carry out, and the city having 59 community districts, that comes to about $450 million per decade, according to the administration. It also estimates the cost of staffing the undertaking would add another $50 million, not counting costs to the Office of Management and Budget. De Blasio officials including Planning Commissioner Marissa Lago are expected to testify against Johnson’s bill on Wednesday.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Mayor de Blasio defers his responsibilty for the city's recovery to a made up czar

 Image

 

 QNS

Astoria native Lorraine Grillo has been appointed as the city’s “Recovery Czar,” tasked with leading the COVID-19 rebuilding efforts across the five boroughs. In the newly created post, Grillo will lead the recovery war room at City Hall, where she will coordinate government agencies, nonprofits and the private sector.

“New York City was hit with an unprecedented health care and economic crisis,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “Together, we’re taking unprecedented steps to drive a recovery for all of us. As New York City’s first-ever Recovery Czar, Lorraine will cut through bureaucracy, coordinate across all agencies, and reach out to nonprofit and private partners to make sure our recovery is felt in every borough, every neighborhood and every block.”

Grillo will transition from her roles as Commissioner of the Department of Design and Construction and CEO of the city’s School Construction Authority where she has served since 1994.

“I build things. That’s what I do. And together, we are going to build a recovery that lifts up every New Yorker,” Grillo said. “Every job I’ve had serving the people of New York City, from responding to Hurricane Sandy to expanding universal pre-K, has required an intense coordination across different agencies, companies and nonprofits. That’s the same aggressive approach I’m going to take to lead a recovery for us all.”

 

Queens machine anointing candidates for judge seats, including Paul Vallone


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Queens Eagle

Term-limited Councilmember Paul Vallone will be among four candidates nominated for judgeships by the Queens County Democratic Party Tuesday morning, according to five people familiar with party decision-making.

Democratic district leaders and other members of the organization will meet virtually to make the endorsements at 10 a.m. The party’s choreographed endorsement events typically serve to rubber-stamp candidates chosen by party chiefs.

If elected in November, Vallone, a councilmember in Northeast Queens, would follow his brother Peter Vallone Jr. from City Hall to the Queens bench. Peter Vallone Jr. became a justice in Queens Criminal Supreme Court, where he handles child abuse cases, in 2016 after representing Astoria for 11 years in the council.

The Vallones have been prominent members of the Queens Democratic organization for decades. Their father Peter Vallone Sr. served as city council speaker and now runs a lobbying firm. Their grandfather Charles Vallone was a long-time judge in Queens.

Paul Vallone did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

He was previously rated as qualified for a judgeship by an independent agency in 2012 but decided to run for the council rather than seek a judicial nomination at the time. 

24 hours till City Council committee hearing on Planning Together and 9 reasons why to kill it

 

The Village Sun

 In 1961, Jane Jacobs, author of “The Death and Life of Great American Cities,” called city planning “a pseudo-science” that had “arisen on a foundation of nonsense.”

Jacobs argued for an end to gigantic plans that relied on “catastrophic money” and “centralized processes” and “standardized solutions.” All that, she argued, just created “dead places” —  like today’s Hudson Yards.

More recently, Sam Stein, in his book “Capital City: Gentrification and the Real Estate State,” chastised planners for serving the interest of Big Real Estate rather than the public good.

It is true that for all their talk of serving the public good, planners do appear to dislike citizens. For one, they are trained to think of citizens as generic NIMBYs standing in the way of their ideas. Moreover, as a profession, they tend to overly admire Robert Moses, the man who imposed his will on New York City in a way that was top-down, cruel and racist — not to mention plain destructive.

Moses’ defenders always respond, “At least he got something done,” and argue for more central planning power, skirting the issue of whether better plans might have been made in another way.

These issues have returned anew with the announcement of a proposed planning law that City Council Speaker Corey Johnson is promoting. The law is a very bad one. Citizens should definitely object to it, and stop this law before the city puts a new Robert Moses into power.

The purpose of the law is, to quote from it: “to prioritize population growth, where applicable, in areas that have high access to opportunity and low risk for displacement.”

“High opportunity,” “amenity rich” and “well-resourced” are code words among planners for overdeveloped neighborhoods in the historic core of the city —  Manhattan south of 125th St., Downtown Brooklyn, Brownstone Brooklyn around Prospect Park and the East River. (See Vicki Been’s report “Where We Live.”)

These are high-density, overdeveloped, often historic places with lots of subways, good schools, good parks, good grocery stores and short commutes to Midtown and the Financial District.

Oddly, these areas are also places where Big Real Estate profits are highest and where most of the new development since 2010 has already been built. Why then is the planning law so laser-focussed on driving growth to the already denser parts of the city, before the planning is even conducted? Why does a new all-powerful Director get to assign housing targets based on this high-opportunity theory? The law has planning exactly backwards.

We are supposed to use planning to figure out and debate where to put people (a.k.a. “density”) and infrastructure, not to do end runs around communities and drive new density to predetermined areas of the city!

Here are nine things wrong with the proposed “comprehensive planning” law:

1.) It fails to address the elephant in the room: the revolving door between Big Real Estate and government, thus undermining the legitimacy of the process. Big Real Estate has already captured many of the land-use regulatory agencies of the city; it thus imposes its vision upon us through its people who run the Department of City Planning, the Economic Development Corporation and the Board of Standards and Appeals. See, for example, my op-ed “Fox Guarding the Henhouse at City Planning.”

2.) The proposed law presupposes that the only way to deal with high housing prices is to obsessively build hyper-dense (and tall) near transit, which is what we have already been doing, based on a discredited trickle-down housing-supply theory. It’s a planning approach arising from a bad theory.

3.) It presupposes that the only way to deal with displacement risk is to build like crazy when, in fact, displacement risk needs to be managed in the first instance through legislation. Universal rent stabilization and the Good Cause Eviction Act would largely solve most of the displacement problem. Incremental building of more public-social housing units at the low end of the market would deal with the rest.

4.) It imposes Soviet-style housing targets on “low risk for displacement” neighborhoods, without having had binding public policy discussion about the upper limits or lower bounds of density. What kind of city do we want and how should we spread the benefits and burdens of density? The law presupposes that density can be infinite.

5.) The legislation presumes the scientific legitimacy of a dubious “index of displacement risk” that gets coded into law. This is just not credible. Such indices are built on a host of assumptions and not valid. Displacement risk is a political phenomenon as much as a market one.

6.) Also, the planning law ignores key questions for public debate. For example, when are we too dense to have a livable city? When are we not dense enough? How should density be distributed? Should it be distributed more evenly, like peanut butter on a slice of bread, or all piled up in the historic core? And who should decide these questions, the Director or the citizens of the city? All this is simply ignored, even though these questions are the very heart of planning!

7.) At no point can neighborhoods, residents, taxpayers and citizens vote on any plans at any time. There is no voting, no referenda, no democracy. In other words, the proposed law is profoundly anti-democratic.

8.) Under the proposed law, the housing targets for each neighborhood rely on a bad theory that Big Real Estate loves: New population growth should be targeted to existing “high-opportunity” areas. That’s an invitation for selective overdevelopment, leaving the historic parts of our city vulnerable to more demolition while ignoring the investment needs of currently “low opportunity” neighborhoods.

There is also this troubling fact: Residents of low-amenity neighborhoods have clearly said they don’t want to move. (See the city report “Where We Live.”) They want their existing neighborhoods to have amenities every bit as good as the neighborhoods in the core. They just don’t want to be gentrified out — or, rather, displaced.

9.) The law strengthens an already king-like mayor and recreates a too-powerful Robert Moses figure in the form of “The Director.” Citizens would not be able to reject this person.

 Procedurally, here’s how the planning system would work: The mayor would appoint a Robert Moses-like figure called “The Director.” The Director would produce research reports on a lot of topics, all required by the new law — which is O.K. Trouble arises when the Director is told by law to create housing targets (Soviet-style) for how much new housing each neighborhood (in high-opportunity/low-displacement areas) must produce.

The Director would create three scenarios for each neighborhood to accommodate their assigned housing targets. The City Council would pick one of the scenarios. If they said, “None of the above,” the Director would then pick a scenario for them. The scenarios would get bundled into a “comprehensive” 10-year plan for the entire city, approved by the City Council to become law.

Developers would have to convince the Director that a new development was consistent with the plan. If it was, they could avoid public review, citizen outcry or deference to the local councilmember for the particular project. A few public hearings are built into the process, but they are just advisory white noise, like they are today. Citizens and taxpayers never get to vote on the plan.

While this procedure sounds plausible for things like roads, schools, transit, parks, trash disposal, libraries, sewage treatment and tunnels, this plan is not really about those things. It’s really about requiring each neighborhood to fill those assigned housing targets.

The law creates new committees to work with the Director, with trivial, advisory roles. For example, the mayor, borough presidents and the City Council would appoint a 13-member “long-term planning steering committee” made up of demographically diverse “experts.” Their role would be to give advice to the Director — who could ignore it. The steering committee would also appoint five borough committees, which would provide borough-specific feedback at various points in the planning process. Their advice would also just be white noise. Community boards would do nothing different than what they do now.

  You can sign up to testify in person or submit written testimony here.

 

 


 

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Jimmy's got a brand new bag while his husband is bringing home the bread

 


He is a reborn union man fighting real estate and for the working man and woman according to his website - Jimmy Van Bramer for Queens Borough President

 BUT he is notoriously close to real estate developers! In 2013 campaign finance records below show he got at least  $6,350.00 from a developer's family, the Wolkoffs, related to the Five Points Development, which not only got a lucrative variance BUT ALSO the developer G&M Realty owner -AKA Jerry Wolkoff - didn't use all union labor as promised. The people of LIC got glass behemoths instead - thanks to Jimmy! He is also an old friend of big-time developer Stuart Suna.


 

 
 

While City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer may have sworn off special interest cash, the same hasn’t been true for his husband — author and documentary filmmaker Dan Hendrick.

His 2017 documentary “Saving Jamaica Bay” is larded to the hilt with money from lobbyists and big real estate interests the councilman swore to avoid, a review by The Post shows.

The influential lobbyists singled out for thanks in the film credits include Uber lobbyist Patrick Jenkins, the founder of Patrick B. Jenkins & Associates; Jon R. Del Giorno, a founding member of Pitta Bishop & Del Giorno and lobbyist for the Yankees; Arthur Goldstein, a partner in Davidoff Hutcher & Citron and lobbyist for the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation; former NYU lobbyist Rose Christ, of Cozen O’Connor; and Joe Reubens, a partner at The Parkside Group who lobbied for AT&T.

Big real estate also chipped in, with The Durst Organization, Tishman Speyer Properties, the Real Estate Board of New York Foundation and others also thanked in the film credits.

Hendricks made no secret of the need for financing while making the film, telling local news he took in “hundreds of thousands” of dollars for the flick, which was narrated by Susan Sarandon. 

 “On the surface, it doesn’t look good,” said Betsy Gotbaum, a former city Public Advocate and current executive director of the good government group Citizens Union.



The forgotten rent-stabilized residents of the sleazy Kew Gardens Hotel

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Queens Ledger

 Tenants that live in the same building that housed the Umbrella Hotel just off Queens Boulevard in Kew Gardens have lived with a constant barrage of criminal activity, culminating in a fatal shooting on New Year’s Day that eventually led to the hotel’s closure.

However, the seven remaining tenants say they are now living in their rent-stabilized apartments without heat or hot water.

Rohini Singh, a mother who has lived there since 2017, said the owners and management company have abandoned the building, leaving tenants to fend for themselves.

“We are on our own,” Singh said. “The temperature in my apartment was at 47 degrees this week. I’ve put in two tickets at 311 for heat and hot water. No one has showed up at my apartment to check anything.”

She added that the front doors are locked, which means that mail cannot be delivered, while basic maintenance like trash removal have completely vanished.

Jonathan Kastin, another resident in the building, has heat, but no hot water. He has taken it upon himself to serve as a make-shift tenants’ association leader.

“People are worried, scared and they’re suffering,” Kastin said. “They’re sitting there, living in their winter coats. I don’t know how they manage it.”

He said a worker came to the building on Friday to fix his hot water, but refused to hear any other tenant complaints.

“I said, ‘There are other tenants here and they are having heat and hot water problems,’” Kastin said. “She’s like ‘I’m just responding to my own ticket. Let them put in their own ticket.’ It was crazy. She just didn’t want to know about anything.”

He also worried about the elevators in the building. Two out of the three do not work, with the third being unreliable.

“The next time the elevator breaks, those of us on the top floor will be stranded,” Kastin said.

A notice posted in the building the day after the hotel closed advised residents to begin looking for another apartment immediately.

“It’s a hilarious notice, if it weren’t so awful” Kastin said. “They never communicated about conditions in the building. They would never send us emails, they would never talk to us.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Bias assaults against Asian-Americans continue to rise

  


Gothamist

 On Wednesday, a man violently shoved a 52-year-old Chinese woman on a sidewalk in Flushing, Queens. The victim required at least five stitches after knocking her head on the concrete floor.

A video of the incident, which took place in daylight outside a bakery and showed the attacker throwing an object at the woman before pushing her, was shared online and quickly went viral, the latest in a string of violent incidents that have troubled Asian American communities and prominent public officials.

What made the Flushing attack especially alarming to some Asian Americans is that it took place in a neighborhood that is overwhelmingly Asian.

“I think Asians are easy targets,” said Chris Kwok, a board member of the Asian American Federation, an advocacy group for Asian communities. “I think people feel like they won’t fight back. People feel ‘Oh, the police won’t report. And maybe Asians won’t report.’”

Kwok co-authored a report for the Asian American Bar Association of New York, "A Rising Tide of Hate and Violence Against Asian Americans in New York During COVID-19: Impact, Causes, Solutions, finding 2,500 Asians to be the target of a hate attack related to COVID-19 between March and September 2020 nationwide.

“And this number understates the actual number of anti-Asian hate incidents because most incidents are not reported,” the report reads.

Deputy Inspector Stewart Loo, who heads the NYPD’s Asian Hate Crime Task Force, which formed last August after a spike in hate crimes against Asians, corroborated Kwok’s “soft target” theory.

“One hundred percent that is part of the problem,” said Loo in an interview with Gothamist/WNYC on Friday. “I spoke to people who rob Asian Americans and they'll tell you why they target Asian Americans. It's not because they're Asian. They perceive them to be soft targets. They carry cash. They won't report it. It's less likely that they'll identify them, and they put up the least amount of resistance.”

The NYPD arrested Patrick Mateo, 47, for the Flushing attack, and he was charged with assault and harassment. The incident took place a day after two other Asian American women were attacked in separate subway encounters. Earlier this month, a 61-year-old Filipino man was slashed across the face while riding the L train. 

Across the country, Asian American organizations have documented thousands of bias incidents since the beginning of the pandemic last year and are urging law enforcement agencies and government officials to take the problem seriously. In San Francisco, an 84-year-old Thai man died after being knocked to the ground; a 91-year-old Asian American was pushed to the ground in Oakland’s Chinatown, and a Vietnamese grandmother was robbed in San Jose ahead of the Lunar New Year

The NYPD has not yet established a racial motive for the Flushing attack but in a Facebook post the victim’s daughter categorized it as a hate crime.

"This douchebag was yelling out racial slurs, walks into my mom and shoved my mother on Main street and Roosevelt Avenue in Flushing, Queens today,” wrote Maggie Kayla Cheng on Wednesday. “He shoved her with such force that she hit her head on the concrete and passed out on the floor. She received 5-10 stitches on her forehead, spending 4-5 hours in the hospital. Hate crime has no place in our community. How you go up against a 5'3”, 110-115lbs lady?"

 This psycho xenophobe probably would have got away with it if his victim's daughter wasn't a friend of a stunning actress who's also a CEO of a dog walking app


 

 

Assemblywoman doesn't do her homework

https://matchbin-assets.s3.amazonaws.com/public/sites/345/assets/8NOZ_Zara_Rajkumar.jpg 

Queens Ledger

 On December 10th, 2020, a six-alarm fire ripped through six buildings at 109-25 Jamaica Ave. in Richmond Hill, destroying the homes and possessions of 12 families right before Christmas.

To help the 50 victims of the fire who were left homeless, Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar, representative of Assembly District 38, coordinated donation efforts along with Community Board 9 leaders, the Richmond Hill - South Ozone Park Lions Club, the Red Cross, and non-profit leaders and small businesses. 

Rajkumar converted her Woodhaven based office into a donation site, and donors quickly filled four rooms with food, clothes, and gift cards for the victims.

Among the donors was the Zara Realty Charitable Foundation and the George Subraj Family Foundation, two philanthropic organizations who continuously support their local community in various ways. Together, the organizations purchased and donated 13 laptops to the children of the affected families. 

With remote learning required during the pandemic, this donation will ensure they do not fall behind in their schoolwork. 

"Our team is proud to partner with Zara Realty Charitable Foundation and provide the students with the necessary technological tools for their education," said Rajkumar. 

“We are working every day to help the community through the pandemic. This work includes ensuring that education is not interrupted,” she said. “These Chromebooks will ensure that these children can continue to learn through remote learning.

“When we saw this fire tear through our community, we knew we needed to step up and help those who were impacted, including children who need to continue to complete their school work remotely,” said Tony Subraj, co-managing partner at Zara. “Residents of these buildings are lucky to have a representative as dedicated and hard-working on their behalf as Assemblywoman Rajkumar. We were happy to work with her to ensure that these families have access to the help they need.”

So Zara Realty is in the "philanthopy" game now after building a legacy of recidivist tenant harassment. It wasn't that long ago when they were charged for swindling tenants at one of their apartment buildings with onerous fees and charges in order to circumvent rent stabilization laws and when they threatened immigrant tenants by placing DHS placards in the hallway of another apartment building at the height of President Trump's ICE crackdowns to scare them into moving out of their rent control apartments.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Developers licking their chops over CoJo's housing plan

From the Real Deal:

Predictably, a coalition of the city’s leading NIMBY groups blasted the City Council speaker’s proposal Thursday as a “top-down approach that would leave communities with even less democratic control over massive city rezonings” than they have now. 

Well, yes. That is exactly the point. 

Not to be anal, but this is not a direct democracy. It’s a republic. We elect leaders, who in turn run the government. We don’t let people with pitchforks decide what can be built where.

Riiiight, we elect representatives who vote on rezonings on our behalf. Unfortunately what Planning Together does is remove them, as well as community boards and the borough president, from the equation. Let's continue:

New York’s lone YIMBY group, Open New York, thinks Johnson’s plan should go further because “it fails to address longstanding practices that allow wealthier neighborhoods to block new housing and shunt demand elsewhere,” said board member Will Thomas. 

He was disgusted but hardly surprised by the letter from the anti-development groups including Village Preservation, Voice of Gowanus, Stop Sunnyside Yards, Soho Alliance and the Coalition to Protect Chinatown and the Lower East Side. 

“We encourage legislators interested in more equitable city planning to ignore complaints by wealthy NIMBYs who are primarily interested in protecting the status quo,” Thomas said.

Wealthy NIMBYs? I think you'd better take a closer look at who signed the letter.
I think MTOPP, Fight for NYCHA and the Flushing Workers Center and others on the list would be surprised to find out that they represent wealthy neighborhoods.

When they have to misrepresent who you are, it means they are up to no good.

Corey Johnson is fooling absolutely no one

Add CB7 to the list of community boards rejecting "Planning Together"... (love the racism angle)

CB7 response to Planning Together by queenscrapper on Scribd

So, let me remind you that the hearing is Tuesday, February 23rd at 10am. You can sign up to testify in person or submit written testimony here. Choose the following from the dropdown menu:

MTA trolls raise bridge and tunnel tolls

 


NY Post 

Tolls on the MTA’s seven bridges and two tunnels are set to go up April 1, with the agency’s board unanimously approving an increase on Thursday.

Current toll rates will increase an average of 7.08 percent, the MTA said.

Tolls will increase from $6.12 to $6.55 for E-ZPass users on six crossings: the Bronx-Whitestone, Triboro, Throgs Necks and Verrazzano bridges and the Brooklyn-Battery and Queens-Midtown tunnels. Drivers without E-ZPass will be charged $10.17, up from $9.50 today.

On Upper Manhattan’s Henry Hudson Bridge, tolls will increase by 20 cents for E-ZPass users and 50 cents for everyone else. The Cross Bay and Marine Parkway bridges in Queens, meanwhile, will see tolls spiked from $2.29 for E-ZPass and $4.75 for everyone else to $2.45 and $5.09, respectively.

MTA officials opted to retain a discount for Queens residents for those two bridges, as well as the Verrazzano Bridge’s Staten Island rebate — which will now apply to all borough residents regardless of how many trips per month they take across the bridge.

At the same time, the MTA has created a middle-tier for toll collection: E-ZPass users whose devices are not affixed properly will be charged a “special rate” in between the regular and E-ZPass rates.

The MTA has hiked fares and tolls every two years since 2010. But transit officials delayed scheduled transit fare hikes last month, citing widespread financial hardship and low transit ridership.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Community Boards overwhelmingly against "Planning Together"

From the Queens Chronicle:

Land use advocate Paul Graziano continued his Queens lobbying crusade against the City Council speaker’s proposed comprehensive planning bill in Community Board 9 on Tuesday night.

Graziano, a zoning specialist and staunch opponent of the ambitious land use legislation created by Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan), presented at a special meeting of the board’s Executive and Land Use committees.

Graziano has been making the rounds of community boards arguing against the plan. So far boards 8, 11 and 13 have all voted against the proposal. On Tuesday, CB 9 nearly unanimously joined the group of boards opposing the bill.


Hey folks, because Corey Johnson cares so much about the voices of People of Color, he scheduled his hearing on this bill the same day as the Special Election for Council District 31! What a guy! Here's the letter of oppositiont that CB8 sent to the Speaker. It's a doozy!

Planning Together - Letter From CB8Q by queenscrapper on Scribd