Friday, October 15, 2021

Better know a district candidate: The fighting 32nd


 Queens Chronicle

With over 30 years of civic experience, Joann Ariola is hoping to take her knowledge to City Hall next year and fight to keep residents in her district from moving out of state in what she called an “exodus.”

“I was raised in this district, I raised my children in this district and now my grandchildren are being raised in this district,” Ariola said in a sitdown interview this week with the Chronicle.

“What I’m seeing is an exodus within the community because they’re not seeing the public safety that they were accustomed to,” she said. “They’re not seeing the quality of life that they were accustomed to, and therefore they’re exiting.”

Ariola, a mother of three sons, does not want to visit her grandchildren in another state, she said.

Ariola is running in November’s City Council race for District 32, one of the most competitive races in the city this year. She is looking to maintain the Republican seat held by Councilman Eric Ulrich (Ozone Park), who is being term-limited out this year and who has endorsed Ariola. Outside of Staten Island, it is the last Republican-held City Council seat.

Ariola is the chairwoman of the Queens Republican Party, the president of the Howard Beach Lindenwood Civic Association and a member of Community Board 10. She founded the Lindenwood Alliance before it merged with the Howard Beach Civic Association.

Her opponent is progressive activist Felicia Singh.

On the doorsteps of constituents, Ariola said, she gives them her three top issues: public safety, quality of life and education of the children.

When asked about her opponent’s claims that she is a one-issue candidate, Ariola said it all begins with public safety.

“If you don’t have public safety, you don’t have anything,” she said. “You will not be able to enjoy your beautiful parks. You will not be able to feel safe when your child is at school or when you’re on your way to work and you get mugged or thrown on a train track.

Queens Chronicle 

 As the daughter of immigrants, Felicia Singh wants voters to know that she understands the difficulty of navigating New York City’s systems as well as the middle-class struggle.

Her father, who is a Sikh from Punjab, is a taxi driver who lost his medallion during the pandemic and had to file for bankruptcy. Her mother, who is Muslim and from Guyana, is a school bus matron.

“These are the stories that I want to center in City Hall because they’ve been missing due to lack of representation,” said Singh.

Previously an English teacher, she is now running in the City Council race for District 32, in arguably the most competitive race in the city. The seat has been held by Republican incumbent Eric Ulrich (Ozone Park) for the past 12 years and he is backing Singh’s opponent, Queens GOP chairwoman Joann Ariola.

“The best advocate is someone who’s had to navigate the same systems everyday New Yorkers have to,” Singh said in an exclusive sitdown interview with the Chronicle. “We need folks who have the world view of being working class, of being a daughter of immigrants.”

Singh is running on a platform centering education and the environment. She served in the Peace Corps and taught in India, Thailand and China for a cumulative two and a half years. Her teaching experience includes time at schools on Long Island and at Coney Island Preparatory Public Charter School.

As part of her education platform, Singh supports a cap on charter schools, removing mayoral control of schools, free CUNY and SUNY tuition and more investment in the public school system.

“Why can’t I be able to send my child to the local school that’s in my neighborhood? Why are we not fixing that issue?” asked Singh, calling the New York City school system “one of the most segregated in the nation” and adding that the Gifted and Talented program adds to that.

“If you are a student who would love that opportunity to participate in Gifted and Talented, you have to be lucky enough to have it in your school,” said Singh. She calls for investing in the schools in people’s own districts. The conversation, she said, is similar to the law enforcement conversation of “preventing crime versus responding.”

As for law enforcement, Singh proposed reallocating at least one billion dollars from the police budget and putting that toward programs like violence interrupters who intervene in conflicts and B-HEARD, the Behavioral Health Emergency Assistance Response Division, which handles mental health crises.

She said the system in which police are called for violent situations is “not going anywhere” and that her opponent is a one-issue candidate who wants to put police on every corner. She assures that she will expand public safety, but through alternative means.


Flushing's drowning pool

The Flushing Meadows Corona Park Pool & Rink has been closed during the COVID pandemic.


 A heralded Queens public pool central to New York City’s failed 2012 Olympic bid has been shuttered since before the pandemic — while as many as a dozen workers show up daily without swimmers to serve.

It’s one of six public indoor pools closed for maintenance even after the six others run by the city reopened last month following an 18-month COVID-spurred shutdown.

The Flushing Meadows Corona Park Aquatic Center was shuttered Jan. 13, 2020, for what the Department of Parks and Recreation described as “emergency repairs” after the roof started shedding concrete.

At the time, the department said in a press release, “the pool will be closed to the public for at least six weeks,” with “extensive ceiling netting” to be installed over the pool and a neighboring ice rink.

The pool’s public entrance on the eastern edge of the park is now padlocked, with handwritten signs reading “Pool is closed, sorry” pasted on the front doors.

That netting is now permanently in place over the drained 50-meter pool, according to workers at the facility, which first opened its doors in 2008. Chunks of concrete falling from the ceiling are to blame, the Parks Department says.

Conditions are so far-gone that Parks says it is developing plans to reconstruct the roof.

The Blaz abolishes municipal workers medicare



CBS New York

Governor Kathy doesn't like to kiss and tell about government business

 Progress New York

 Twenty Government Agencies in New York are responsible for over 66 per cent. of appeals seeking the release of Government records, an analysis of New York State Committee on Open Government data has shown, with the New York Police Department behind the largest number of open records requests that triggered challenges.

Of 4,077 FOIL Appeals tracked on a spreadsheet maintained by the Committee on Open Government, the NYPD was responsible for at least 961 challenges filed by the makers of FOIL Requests. The New York State Dept. of Corrections and Community Supervision, the City of Rochester Law Department, Suffolk County, and the New York State Dept. of Health rounded up the top 5 Government Agencies triggering the most FOIL Appeals.

Combined, 20 Government Agencies in New York generated 2,731 challenges out of a total of 4,077 FOIL Appeals tracked on Committee on Open Government spreadsheet. The data was provided to Progress New York in response to a request filed under the State’s Freedom of Information Law, or FOIL.  Progress New York is seeking records about FOIL Appeals and their dispositions ; records about FOIL Appeals and determinations made thereon are required by law to be forwarded to the Committee on Open Government.

As has been widely-reported, Gov. Kathleen Hochul (D-NY) has promised that, “Transparency will be the hallmark of my administration,” she told talk show host Joseph Scarborough during an MSNBC interview.

Despite her promise, Government Agencies in New York refuse to explain their record of triggering so many FOIL Appeals.

The office of the Deputy Commissioner for Public Information at the NYPD did not answer a press inquiry about having been the target of so many disputes over their decision to deny or withhold access to Government records. Silence was also the response from officials with the New York City Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene and the New York City Dept. of Transportation, two of the top 20 Government Agencies triggering the most FOIL Appeals. In total, five New York City Agencies were amongst the top 20 Authorities that gave rise to the most challenges.

In 2015, the news Web site Gothamist reported that New York City Hall were “screening” open records requests that reflected on Mayor Bill de Blasio (WFP-New York City). For this report, the press office supporting Mayor de Blasio did not answer an interview request.

The press office supporting Gov. Hochul, likewise, did not answer an interview request for this report.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Transporation Alternatives study on open streets confirms residents don't want them



NY Daily News

Mayor de Blasio has allowed cars to conquer open streets.

The city’s “Open Streets” program, which launched in the summer of 2020 with the goal of closing streets to cars for certain parts of the day, has been mostly abandoned, said a report published Tuesday by the street safety advocacy group Transportation Alternatives.

The goal of the program was to give New Yorkers more outdoor space to social distance during the pandemic — and proved to be wildly popular in many neighborhoods.

But data from Tuesday’s report suggests the program is not so popular among de Blasio officials.

Transportation Alternatives surveyed every one of the 274 street segments listed as part of the program, and found that 54% of them did not have barriers to keep cars from rolling through during hours the city Department of Transportation permitted them to close to traffic.

It’s a damning finding for a program that de Blasio in May called “great for the neighborhood, great for tourists too.” The mayor in April 2020 said up to 100 miles of streets would be part of the program — but Transportation Alternatives found just 24 of the city’s 6,300 miles of streets actually served as car-free “open streets” over the course of 2021.

The report also found glaring inequities in what remains of the Open Streets program.

Some 84% of the street segments listed as part of the program in the Bronx had no barriers to keep cars out in 2021 — and the borough is home to just 2% of the program’s streets that are actually enforced, the report found.

“This report makes one thing clear: New Yorkers love Open Streets, and they want to see them succeed,” said Transportation Alternatives executive director Danny Harris. “However, Mayor de Blasio has broken his promise to expand the program equitably.”

This report makes it more clear that they didn't even bother to talking to the residents where these open streets are. Danny Harris is the second most deranged and delusional person in this city behind the Blaz.

After the floods, home insurance premiums rise above sea level


 Premiums will be going up for most of the 53,000 New York City property owners covered by the federal flood insurance system, government stats reviewed by THE CITY show.

The National Flood Insurance Program rates that took effect Oct. 1 for new policyholders — and will hit in April for existing ones — have homeowners like Brooklyn’s Carly Baker-Rice facing new stress, on top of the toll of recent storms.

Baker-Rice and her husband bought their house in Red Hook last June in a move from Fort Greene, even though they predicted they’d eventually be “up to their knees in sewage” due to flooding in their new place, she said.

Just over a year into homeownership, that happened sooner than she thought. In August, Tropical Storm Henri flooded their basement and on Sept. 1, the deadly remnants of Hurricane Ida sent water splashing in through the front door.

Baker-Rice is still dealing with the damage and waiting for her insurance claims to go through — and she hasn’t been able to obtain a quote from her broker yet about how a new federal flood insurance policy might make her premium go up.

 “It makes my heart race, and I’m already somewhat crippled by the amount of stress that I’ve been under for the last month,” said Baker-Rice, 38, who works as a corporate training consultant. “It’s incredibly frightening to not know what it’s going to go up by, knowing what some of the existing rates out there are.”

Prices will go up for at least 62% of flood insurance policies in New York City. More than 53,000 properties, including 19,440 single-family homes, are insured by FEMA’s program in the five boroughs, an analysis by THE CITY found. Nationally, more homeowners will be taking bigger hits: FEMA estimates 75% will see increases, which could be as much as 18% per year.

In the city’s 10 poorest ZIP codes, 38% of premiums will increase and 62% will decrease. The figures are roughly the same for the city’s 10 wealthiest ZIP codes.

Due for an increase: about 75% of covered properties in Queens, 65% in Brooklyn, 59% in Staten Island, 46% in The Bronx and 43% in Manhattan.


The million dollar deadbeat



 As he hints at running for governor, lame duck mayor Bill de Blasio has racked up nearly $1 million in debts to lawyers, campaign consultants and taxpayers that records indicate he currently can’t pay.

The mayor owes one of the city’s biggest lobbyist law firms upwards of $435,000. On Thursday, the city’s Department of Investigation commissioner informed him he must reimburse taxpayers nearly $320,000 for his use of an NYPD securing detail during his failed 2019 cross-country presidential campaign.

Meanwhile, the latest filings for his various campaign and political action committees reveal he’s got more than $182,500 in outstanding campaign debts — and only about $11,800 cash on hand.

Between all of this, he owes upwards of $929,000, THE CITY found.

Danielle Filson, a spokesperson for de Blasio, declined to respond to nearly all of THE CITY’s questions, stating only that he was awaiting his appeal on NYPD reimbursement.

“Once that decision is made, the mayor will of course proceed accordingly,” she wrote.

But Filson would not discuss his modest cash reserve or any of his debts, including his biggest unpaid bill: the $435,000 he owes Kramer Levin & Naftalis — a firm that regularly lobbies City Hall on behalf of real estate developers seeking favors from the mayor’s administration such as zoning changes and city permits.

Between 2015 and 2017, the firm represented de Blasio personally during multiple investigations of his fundraising tactics. As of Tuesday, he had yet to pay a dime of his long-outstanding bill. And at least for the moment, the firm — which has sued other clients for non-payment — has given the mayor a pass.

De Blasio hired Kramer Levin in 2015 after he began getting inquiries from law enforcement and ethics entities regarding his fundraising tactics. The firm then represented him for two years. By the time its services were no longer needed in 2017, Kramer Levin had billed him for some $300,000.

But he likely owes even more due to interest on the initial bill accumulating over the last four years.

According to court papers the firm has filed accusing other clients of non-payment, Kramer Levin starts charging interest after 30 days of missed payment. The papers state that their protocol is to charge a per annum rate of 9%, which would bring de Blasio’s unpaid bill up to $435,000.

In the last year, Kramer Levin has filed lawsuits against a Diamond District dealer for $1.2 million in allegedly unpaid bills, and two hotel developers for $4.7 million. Both suits are pending.

As of last week, the law firm had taken no such action against de Blasio, even though the bills he owes are now overdue by four years.

God says no to Governor Kathy

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks during a Women's March and Rally for Reproductive Rights at the state Capitol Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021.

NY Post

 An upstate New York federal judge granted a preliminary injunction against Gov. Kathy Hochul’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, barring the state Department of Health from enforcing the requirement on healthcare workers who claim religious exemptions while the case is being decided. 

“Upon review, plaintiffs have established at this early stage of the litigation that they are likely to succeed on the merits of this constitutional claim,” wrote Utica federal Judge David Hurd Tuesday.

He granted the request in response to a religious-freedom lawsuit filed last month against Hochul, the DOH and Attorney General Letitia James by 17 anonymous healthcare workers — the majority being Catholic — claiming the state’s mandate violated their constitutional rights.

Hurd’s decision extends a temporary restraining order granted shortly after the suit was filed and prohibits employers from citing the state’s mandate to deny exemption requests. It also pauses the DOH’s ability to enforce the rule, or revoke any religious exemptions granted since the mandate took effect on Sept. 27.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Danny Dromm calls the cops on open street protesters!

Why doesn't little Danny call Transportation Alternatives and send the bike stasi over to help him?

Assembly holding hearing on ADUs tomorrow

We're about to get royally f*cked.



NY Post

More than $4 billion has flowed from City Hall to scandal-tarred shelter operators over the last eight years, accounting for more than a quarter of the money spent by the Big Apple to tackle its homelessness crisis, an examination of city records reveals.

The $4.6 billion in contract identified by the Post account for 29 percent of the $15.8 billion in contracts let by the Department of Homeless Services over Mayor Bill de Blasio’s nearly eight years in office.

The money has gone out to more than half a dozen shelter operators — including the embattled CORE Services Group — which have each been accused of issues ranging from failing to deliver on multi-million dollar contracts to executive profiteering.

Recent newspaper exposés revealed, for instance, that CORE’s CEO Jack Brown established for-profit vendors that paid him handsomely thanks to millions in taxpayer funds from CORE, which also employed several of his friends and relatives. 

 “The idea that public dollars are going to fund lavish lifestyles of nonprofit executives and their families, instead of helping the neediest, should outrage every New Yorker,” said an outraged Councilman Stephen Levin (D-Brooklyn), who chairs the Council committee who oversees the DHS, when told of The Post’s findings.

“That money should be going to get families and children out of shelters and into apartments,” he added. “A child should not be spending a year and a half of their life living in a hotel room.”

For years, homeless activists and social service providers have argued that City Hall underfunded contracts to operate the Big Apple’s shelter system — and, compounding the problem, often failed to pay them on schedule.

That meant well-established organizations often refused to bid on the work, opening the door to less reputable providers.

“The amount of money identified and the amount of scandal suggests there are major, major problems with these contracts,” said John Kaehny, the head of government watchdog group Reinvent Albany, who called on the feds to get involved.

“Only federal investigators have the money and the resources to get to the bottom of this massive systemic failure,” he added. 

 Stephen Levin is outraged about all this, yet he was the one who was appointed to make sure that these "non"-profit provider executives would be grossly profiting off the homeless crisis which has exacerbated under his watch in the last 8 years. The Blaz couldn't find a better sycophantic feckless enabler.



The mirage broker

A rendering of the Eastern Mirage

NY Daily News 

A prominent Queens businessman and political donor is facing accusations that he and his wife lured hundreds of unwitting Chinese nationals into pouring a quarter-billion dollars into two development projects with the promise that their investments would help secure residency in the United States.

According to a complaint filed in Brooklyn Federal Court by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Yi “Richard” Xia and his wife Julia Yue persuaded more than 450 investors to shell out $229 million to fund the construction of two five-star hotels, one in Flushing and the other in Corona.

The Flushing development, which was dubbed the Eastern Mirage Project and supposed to be finished in 2013, remains incomplete, and according to the SEC complaint, is “an unfinished and empty glass tower.” The other development, the Eastern Emerald Project, is “a largely vacant dirt hole surrounded by a concrete wall.”

Xia’s solicitations for investments spanned from 2010 to 2017, the SEC contends.

According to its complaint, Xia, 52, and Yue, 41, pitched the hotel projects as a way for investors from China to obtain American residency through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ EB-5 program, which allows foreign nationals to qualify if they invest $500,000 or more in a project that creates or preserves jobs.

But, the SEC claims, the investors who made loans to project developers were being deceived.

Instead of their cash going where it was promised, money investors sent to the Mirage project was redirected to the Emerald development, and money intended for the Emerald project was sent to the Mirage job, the complaint claims.

“Defendants represented to investors that their $500,000 capital contributions would be used only for the construction and operation of that specific project. Instead, defendants repeatedly misappropriated money from one project and used it for another,” the complaint states. “Xia also misappropriated investor funds for personal and other improper expenses.”

To that end, the complaint claims that “at least $9.7 million in ill-gotten gains” were funneled into Yue’s personal bank accounts “for no legitimate business purpose.”

Xia also promised investors the projects would be financed through government bonds and bank loans, according to the complaint, which contends those assertions were false.

Xia and his wife did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

 Campaign finance records indicate that over the years Xia has donated generously to political causes, including contributions to Assemblyman Ron Kim, Councilman Peter Koo, state Sen. John Liu and a Democratic political action committee that wheeled thousands of dollars to former Rep. Joe Crowley.

Monday, October 11, 2021

This block blocks the NYPD


Caption the Blaz and his tax boondoggle wife 

That sidewalk is being obstructed by de Blasio's manspreading and that oblivious hipster.

It's a gas!


 NY Daily News

Federal researchers will release nontoxic particles and gases into the New York City subway this month as a part of a study on airborne terrorism threats, officials announced Sunday.

Researchers from the Homeland Security Department and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology aim to find “actionable data for emergency preparedness authorities,” according to an advisory from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The particles and gases that will be used in the study are designed to imitate biological and chemical agents, authorities said. The scientists will set up air testing devices at dozens of locations across the subway from Oct. 18-29 to conduct the study.

The Homeland Security Department did an environmental assessment of the gases and particles to be released to ensure they’re safe, officials said.

It’s not the first time the feds have used the city’s subway system as a testing ground for potential airborne attacks.

This month’s research is part of the Urban Threat Dispersion project, which in 2016 conducted similar experiments in the subway.

But U.S. officials haven’t always notified straphangers they’re involved in the test.

The Army in 1966 sprayed a bacteria officials said was harmless directly onto city subway riders as part of an experiment made public in 1980. The subway riders — accustomed to wild experiences underground — did not notice the test, which Army officials said made the system a prime target for a covert attack.

MTA officials promise the latest airborne tests will be much more transparent.

 Just forget about COVID-19 and the Delta Variant for a few more weeks

The vaccine mandate big chill


NY Daily News 

New York City restaurant and bar owners fear that their bottom line could freeze up this winter if Mayor de Blasio doesn’t renew an emergency permit allowing them to use propane heaters for outdoor service.

The permit, first issued by de Blasio in October 2020, lifted a ban on portable propane heaters to help keep eateries and watering holes open at a time when indoor service was prohibited because of COVID-19. But the waiver expired over the summer, and de Blasio has not said whether he’ll roll out another one ahead of this cold season.

James Mallios, owner of Amali, a Mediterranean restaurant on the Upper East Side is concerned.

Mallios said the propane heater permit was “one of the few bright spots” during the pandemic and that his restaurant would’ve gone belly up without it.

“Without exaggeration, if we did not have propane heaters last season we would be out of business,” said Mallios, who estimated he could lose nearly half of his 75-seat capacity if he can’t have propane heaters this winter.

Mallios is one of 85 restaurant and bar owners who sent de Blasio and Council Speaker Corey Johnson a letter in April, pleading to keep propane heaters burning this winter.

Neither men responded to the note, Mallios said. “That was disheartening,” he added.

 Before de Blasio’s emergency permit, propane heaters were long prohibited in commercial and hospitality settings due to fire hazards.

FDNY data shows there have been no propane-related explosions or fires at any city restaurants or bars since de Blasio’s order, which specified that heaters could only be placed on sidewalks, not near street seating.

Still, FDNY inspectors have issued more than 1,200 propane compliance violations and confiscated at least 1,000 improperly stored tanks since the ban was lifted, according to the data.

“In some of the most egregious incidents, 20-pound containers of propane were found on roadways, concealed by planters and other objects designed to provide vehicle impact protection,” said Frank Dwyer, an FDNY spokesman.


Sunday, October 10, 2021

Forest Park path alternative

 Queens Chronicle

 Parts of the west section of Forest Park began to close over the past week as the Parks Department began construction on a pedestrian and bike path connecting Glendale to the side adjacent to Woodhaven.

The nearly $4 million project will create a path that will slice through the section of park just east of the Forest Park Golf Course on the western half of the park from the intersection of Myrtle Avenue and Forest Park Drive to the Seuffert Bandshell Parking Lot.

The Glendale-facing entrance begins along a segment of Forest Park Drive that now functions as an off-ramp for the Jackie Robinson Parkway. The renovation will replace what is now a dirt path worn in the shoulder of the heavily trafficked street with a sidewalk-width road intended to be shared by cyclists and pedestrians.

The design for the path continues past that point along Forest Park Drive to cut south through the park until it connects back to the wooded area behind the bandshell parking lot. The southern section will build off of an unused concrete expanse in the park blocked off to car traffic with a two-pronged path consisting of a wide pedestrian route on one side and a two-way bike path on the other.

The entrance to that wide, dual-purpose path will contain plantings and a seating area and adult fitness equipment further down. The redesign will also provide security lighting along the section of Forest Park Drive.

Residents began to notice the project getting underway when they saw a gate go up around the Forest Park picnic area by the bandshell section of the park. Last Friday afternoon construction crews were on site demarcating the path and clearing debris from the path.

Though the picnic area could be blocked off for a year — the length of time Parks expects the construction to take — the project will also provide new picnic tables, grills and coal bins in the bandshell-adjacent section when it is finished.

The total price tag for the project is $3.93 million, consisting of $1.89 million of discretionary funds contributed by Councilman Bob Holden (D-Middle Village) and his predecessor, Elizabeth Crowley, $1.2 million from the Borough President’s Office and $841,000 from the mayor.

“I’m glad this project is moving forward. Our parks are very precious throughout the city, especially in this district. That’s why I’ve allocated more than $1.3 million to Forest Park for various projects,” Holden said in a statement.

While street safety advocates celebrated the addition of a bike path to improve connections and accessibility between Forest Park and Glendale, they spoke to the larger concern over how difficult it is to safely access other large portions of the park by bike or foot.

“This project should be a model to create bike-friendly entrances from all surrounding neighborhoods, including Woodhaven and Ozone Park,” said Juan Restrepo from Transportation Alternatives in a statement. “With the nearby Jackie Robinson Parkway and Woodhaven Boulevard, Forest Park remains inaccessible to the people the park should serve. NYC DOT must amplify the new bike path by creating a network of protected bike lanes to the park.”

Juan is quite a little Hitler about the streets of NYC. Such an exemplary spokesman for the Transportation Totalitarians.


NY Post 

It’s highway robbery — and the MTA doesn’t even know the culprit.

The authority is down at least $56 million thanks to “unbillable” tolls for which officials cannot find an address to mail the bill, State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli said Thursday.

MTA Bridges and Tunnels was unable to send bills for six million crossings through from September 2019 to June 2021 — leaving millions of dollars uncollected, the comptroller’s office said in a letter to the MTA following up on three-year-old audit into its cashless tolling.

A huge chunk of the lost revenue — $33.9 million — stemmed from the MTA and its vendors not having agreements with other states’ DMVs to access vehicle registration information, particularly for temporary plates.

Another $21.8 million went uncollected because license plates were either too dark, too bright, missing a state name — or just missing altogether. Thousands of transactions worth another $2.9 million went unbilled due to bad image quality.

Ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced plans to remove tollbooths at the MTA’s seven bridges and two tunnels in late 2016. The program got underway a few months later.

The system’s flaws have come into sharp focus in recent months. In September, the MTA Inspector General flagged a transit employee who bragged to co-workers about eluding tolls with an obscured license plate and owed $100,000 in tolls and fines.

Trust fund dilletante brats take advantage of affordable housing tax break


 If you have a modest income but access to lots and lots of cash, New York City has an apartment ownership program that’s right up your alley. Even if it wasn’t meant for you at all.

 The changes at the building in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood began in 2009, when a guitar shop owner whose father was a renowned art appraiser purchased a four-bedroom apartment. His mom lent him the money. Then came a writer who borrowed from her mother, a psychologist. A movie production manager and her partner, a photo director, bought their unit with a loan from her father, a physician in Maryland. A flurry of additional purchases without mortgages followed, including by a Shakespearean actress whose father lives in a terraced penthouse overlooking Central Park and a fashion designer whose father is a gynecologist in California.

Similar colonies of young people with creative sensibilities and well-off parents have taken root in Williamsburg for years, but the gentrification of this particular six-story building on South 2nd Street had a surprising set of enablers: the taxpayers of New York. It’s one of about 1,000 properties across the city that receive a special property tax break created to make homeownership affordable for low-income people. The building had income restrictions, and these buyers met them. At the same time, they had access to a lot of cash, which they used to score their units at well below market prices. Never mind their wealth or their parents’; the tax break doesn’t require any limit on assets or preclude gifts.

The children of America’s wealthy are quietly sewing up deals like this in some of New York’s most desirable neighborhoods, in buildings known as Housing Development Fund Corporation cooperatives, or HDFCs. These buildings were at one time in financial (and often physical) distress, and many are still shunned by conventional mortgage underwriters—hence the need for buyers to pay cash. Many are no longer cheap, because the agreements that once limited resale prices have expired. But even at prices that can crest well above $1 million, they’re discounted to the market, because of the income limit on buyers and the lack of available financing in some cases. And the taxes can be remarkably low. On South 2nd Street, the owners enjoy annual property tax discounts of roughly 70%.

The tax break was designed to be simple—too simple, as it turns out. The program sets a maximum taxable value for every HDFC unit across the city. This year it’s $11,079, in a market where the median price for a home has risen to $770,000. Because of this system, half the aggregate tax benefit will go to the top 20% of eligible buildings by value. Struggling buildings in poorer areas, meanwhile, will get no benefit at all. Their values are too low for the tax break to have any effect, and because of their HDFC status, they don’t get an abatement that most market-rate co-ops receive. Dozens have been foreclosed on in recent years for unpaid taxes.

In short, because of inadequate rules, poor design, and decades of lax oversight, these low-income tax subsidies are being scooped up by the well-to-do. “They’re just gaming the system,” says Penny Gurstein, an expert on affordable housing who directs the Housing Research Collaborative at the University of British Columbia. “This is now just being used as a playground for the rich.”

Across the U.S., studies have shown that local property tax systems, which raise more than $500 billion annually, are deeply unfair, favoring the wealthy and systematically applying higher effective tax rates to lower-valued properties. New York’s outcomes are among the most unequal. But even in a system shot through with inequalities, the exploitation of the HDFC program by affluent bargain hunters stands out.

HDFC sales are infrequent, and not all of them go for big-dollar prices. Nonetheless, it happens often enough that the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development acknowledges that “strong reforms are needed.” The agency made a run at that in 2016 but failed in the face of what a spokesman called “strong objections from many HDFC co-ops and their elected representatives.” Since then, the most desirable HDFC apartments, swept along by the forces of the New York real estate market, have only drifted further beyond the reach of the people they were set up for.

An HDFC cooperative exists, per New York state law, “exclusively to develop a housing project for persons of low income.” That doesn’t stop some HDFC buildings from advertising how lax they are about enforcing income limits. Bloomberg Businessweek found dozens of listings dating to 2010 that failed to mention income restrictions for the building or plainly said there were none. A four-bedroom unit at 238 W. 106th St. was listed this year for $1.85 million and advertised as having “no income restrictions,” despite city records showing it benefits from the exemption for low-income housing. The building’s HDFC status lowered its taxable value this year by $3.6 million and cuts its owners’ tax bill by more than $400,000. A building manager at ABC Realty, which manages the building, told Bloomberg Businessweek she would inform the brokers that “they need to be compliant.”

When income limits are enforced, the rules can be as complex and unintuitive as everything else about New York City real estate. Depending on its governing documents, a building will set the limit by various methods. One looks like this: Take the annual common charges for the unit, plus the estimated annual utilities, and multiply that by six (or seven if the buyer’s family is big enough). Then add 6% of the seller’s original purchase price. That’s your income ceiling. Some buildings keep it simpler—and perhaps get to a higher number—by using a percentage of the area median income, or AMI, for the New York metropolitan area. Buildings that are committed to low-income ownership might set the limit at 80% of AMI, which matches the city’s definition of low-income. But an HDFC can go as high as 165% of AMI. This year that translates to $137,940 for a single person and $196,845 for a family of four.

For buildings with high prices and tight income caps, gifting is just about the only way a qualified person can buy some of these apartments, especially if an all-cash deal is necessary. The upshot is that a child of well-to-do parents is something of a perfect buyer.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Big money and Transporation Alternatives infiltrate community board and astroturf zoom hearing to induce bike boulevard









Jimmy Van Bramer brought Donovan Richards to the area along with fellow fauxgressive elected Democrats Letitia James and Grace Meng for a fundraiser at a house around the corner from the notorious bike boulevard. 


I hope their tax payer funded personal drivers escorting them were able to get over there o.k.


The people can see you Transportation Totalitarians. The jig is up.

The D.O.T. and Dept. Of City Planning suddenly cares about community input on open restaurants program



Nearly 12,000 restaurants have taken part to date in the city's Open Restaurants program, the spinoff initiative from the Open Streets program which allows restaurants and bars to use street space for outdoor dining structures. While most New Yorkers seem to have embraced the changes to our urban landscape with open arms—one survey found that two-thirds of New Yorkers think the city “was right to close its streets to cars and open them to pedestrians and restaurants”—many believe there is still plenty of room for improvement. And with Open Streets and its various offshoots set to become permanent parts of the NYC landscape, the city is working on just that.

The Department of City Planning (DCP) and Department of Transportation (DOT) announced this week that they are launching a public engagement process to improve the designs and rules regarding permanent outdoor dining setups.

“Open Restaurants not only helped save New York’s world-renowned restaurant industry, it also showed how we can dynamically reimagine our streetscape,” said DOT Commissioner Hank Gutman. “Developing design guidelines will ensure that this emergency program can be transformed into a permanent part of our city, anchoring restaurants in our communities so that this program continues to flourish.”

While Open Restaurants was enacted under emergency executive order by Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2020 in the midst of the pandemic—the mayor has said that the program has helped save around 100,000 jobs—the city and legislature are now engaging with the more complicated task of making it permanent. That includes a zoning text amendment which many restaurateurs are in favor of (it's currently in public review) that would remove geographic restrictions of where sidewalk cafes can be located.

Where the public's input will come in is in trying to determine how to best "integrate these new setups into the complex environment of NYC streets," as the DOT put it. That input will come via in-person and remote roundtables over the next six months—the schedule of those events will be listed on the DOT webpage and on NYC Engage—culminating in the release of new design guidelines by Spring 2022.

Isn't it nice that asshole Hank Gutman and the D.O.T. and those asshole city planners are deigning, deferring and abdicating their responsibilities to the citizens to fix the mess they made with their shithead policy making without thinking of the ramifications of them. Like a commentator said the other day about how these are supposed to be for the benefit of people's health even though you're still eating on the gutter. 

Meanwhile, residents and even lawmakers are demanding to shed the sheds.

Caption Claire Shulman's Statue

Friday, October 8, 2021

The Blaz abolishes schools gifted and talented program


 NY Post

Mayor Bill de Blasio is phasing out New York City’s Gifted and Talented program, he announced Friday — bowing to critics who assert that the coveted model is racist.

Current students in the accelerated learning program can stay in their separate schools and classrooms to completion. But new cohorts will be completely eliminated by fall 2022, ending testing for kids as young as four.

The model — which admits roughly 2,500 kids per year — is being replaced by Brilliant NYC, a program offering students aged 8 and up chances for accelerated learning while staying in their regular classrooms with other pupils.

The Department of Education said teachers would identify kids best suited for the new initiative.

De Blasio announced the major overhaul despite being in the final months of his term in office. 

The candidates to replace him, Democrat Eric Adams and Republican Curtis Sliwa, have both made clear they did not want to completely eliminate the program, which critics have attacked in part because of the higher number of white and Asian students that gain entry through the exam.

“Brilliant NYC will deliver accelerated instruction for tens of thousands of children, as opposed to a select few,” de Blasio said. “Every New York City child deserves to reach their full potential, and this new, equitable model gives them that chance.”

But critics quickly ripped Hizzoner for making the decision so late in his administration after earlier calls for him to leave it to his successor.

 “This is utterly irresponsible and reprehensible,” state Sen. John Liu (D-Queens) told The Post. “This is the worst act I’ve seen under this mayor. And there have been many of them.”

Liu had previously ripped City Hall for failing to engage parents on the polarizing issue — and intensified his critique after Friday’s rollout.

“The problem here is that the Gifted and Talented program has been part of city schools for a long time,” he said. “The premise is that kids learn at different rates. Changing that policy should involve a full public discussion involving all stakeholders. Instead, he chose the easy way out — fiat in the waning days of his administration when they can’t implement anything


Thursday, October 7, 2021

Man climbs and occupies tree after his mommy yelled at him

de Blasio's Guardian Dark Angel

NY Post

 Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. is mulling criminal charges after a city probe found the NYPD inspector running Mayor Bill de Blasio’s security detail “actively obstructed and sought to thwart” the investigation.

Inspector Howard Redmond — who oversees the police department’s Executive Protection Unit, tasked with the mayor’s security — would be subject to obstruction of justice charges, Department of Investigation Commissioner Margaret Garnett said Thursday.

“Inspector Redmond’s conduct has been referred to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office for possible criminal prosecution,” she told reporters during a press conference after the release of the scathing report. “The criminal matter that we found in the investigation was … the potential obstruction charge.”

In the 49-page report into de Blasio and his use of the security detail, Redmond was found to have stonewalled DOI investigators, refusing to turn over his phone for months until he was ordered to do so by his supervisor. 

“DOI has concluded that the NYPD inspector in charge of the First Family’s security detail actively obstructed and sought to thwart this investigation, frustrating DOI’s efforts to learn the full facts regarding these allegations,” reads a portion of the probe, released Thursday morning.

In Redmond’s effort, he attempted to scrub evidence by, among other actions, destroying his phone, according to the investigation.

“One former NYPD detective told DOI that Inspector Redmond instructed EPU members assigned to the Mayor and his family to communicate with the City Hall resources to impede the NYPD from getting access to EPU communications when ‘dumping’ NYPD phones and emails during investigations,” reads the report. 

The Blaz used the NYPD executive protection unit as chauffeurs and valets


 FOX News

 New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio misused police resources on his security detail, a new report released Thursday by the city's Department of Investigation (DOI) says, to assist in his adult daughter's move out of Brooklyn, as well as to transport campaign staff during his presidential bid. 

The DOI found that the Democratic mayor misused police resources by directing members of his Executive Protection Unit (EPU) to help move his daughter, Chiara de Blasio, out of her apartment in Brooklyn in 2018. NYPD personnel helped carry furniture and an NYPD sprinter van carried her belongings to Gracie Mansion, which is the official residence of the mayor of New York City located in Manhattan.

EPU detectives also drove the mayor’s son, Dante de Blasio, to or from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, on multiple occasions without either the mayor or his wife and first lady Chirlane McCray present. It was also common practice for the EPU to drive Dante de Blasio to locations around New York City without his father or mother, typically at the direction of EPU superiors.

"Although it is the position of the NYPD Intelligence Bureau that both de Blasio children should have full-time protection, both children declined an assigned detail as adults," the 49-page report says. 

DOI also determined that the City of New York expended $319,794 for the members of Mayor de Blasio’s security detail to travel during his presidential campaign trips. The mayor has still not reimbursed the city for those funds either personally or through his campaign. The report also says that during these campaign trips, EPU members occasionally transported de Blasio’s campaign staffers with the mayor. 

Both reflect a use of NYPD resources for political purposes, according to the DOI. 

For approximately one year, the security detail has been conducting frequent security checks at houses owned by the mayor in Brooklyn, where neither he nor his family members reside. The NYPD inspector in charge of the first family’s security detail "actively obstructed and sought to thwart this investigation, frustrating DOI’s efforts to learn the full facts regarding these allegations," the report says.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Queens doesn't want no stinkin' restaurant sheds


Queens Eagle 

The Queens Borough Board voted Monday night against the city’s plan to permanently expand outdoor dining throughout the five boroughs.

With 13 voting against and 6 voting in favor, the City Councilmembers and Community Board chairpersons on the borough’s advisory board overwhelmingly said the city’s plan to permanently allow sidewalk cafes wasn’t fleshed out enough to get their OK.

The board, which issues advisory opinions, said that it wasn’t keen on voting to allow the Department of City Planning and the Department of Transportation to implement the program before the details of the program have been codified.

“We appreciate what the text amendment is trying to do, pretty much we could agree with it, our issue really revolves around the fact that the text amendment is coming fist, before we have a fleshed out program from DOT,” said Betty Bratton, the chair of Community Board 10. We’re opening the door to do something before we have an understanding of what we're going to do.”

“We don’t need to give permission for something to happen, before we know what the permission is going to allow,” Bratton added. “Otherwise...we’re buying a pig in a poke.”

The city has been shopping around its text amendment to community boards for several months.

Citywide, 20 boards voted in favor of the text amendment, 23 against, one had no objections and one board, Queens Community Board 14, waived their right to vote.

The amendment would essentially remove geographic restrictions on sidewalk cafes. Currently, sidewalk cafes are only allowed in a few parts of the city.

The expansion would apply to most commercial corridors in Queens and throughout New York City, but how the program would work – barring the fact that DOT would enforce it – has yet to be written.

Community Board 13 voted in favor of the amendment but at Monday’s Borough Board meeting, board chair Bryan Block said his members still have worries.

“We had serious concerns..about enforcement by DOT,” Block said. “We don’t want to stop restaurants...we want to support our restaurants but enforcement is key.”

Block said that his district already doesn’t have all of its quality of life issues addressed in a timely or efficient way, especially when it comes to late night parties.

According to DOT representative Albert Silvestri, the NYPD and Department of Environmental Protection would continue to enforce noise complaints coming from restaurants participating in the new program. However, if a restaurant continues to be the subject of complaints, it would “impact their standing within the program.”

And now a final word, actually another prepared statement full of Transportation Totalitarians talking points from Commissioner Hank Gutman:

 "Open Restaurants not only helped save New York’s world-renowned restaurant industry, it also showed how we can dynamically reimagine our streetscape,” DOT Commissioner Hank Gutman said in a statement. “Developing design guidelines will ensure that this emergency program can be transformed into a permanent part of our city, anchoring restaurants in our communities so that this program continues to flourish.”

 Restaurants are already anchored in communities you dotard. GTFOH 

Residents patience is gone for idiotic bike boulevard 

Queens Post

A group of residents has launched an online petition in opposition to the DOT’s recent installation of a new bike boulevard on 39th Avenue in Sunnyside.

The online petition, which was launched Saturday, seeks to reverse the DOT’s transformation of many portions of 39th Avenue and Barnett Avenue that have been converted into one-way streets. The DOT began making the changes to the avenues last month in order to create space to put down a protected bicycle lane on 39th Avenue.

The petition has garnered more than 500 signatures since it launched less than 72 hours ago on

The group that launched the petition, called Queens Streets For All, claims that the new designs are dangerous, confusing and were not thought through. They also say that the community was not properly involved in the process.

Their view is counter to the DOT and bike-safety advocates who say that the new layout makes the streets safer for all road users —whether they be motorists, cyclists or pedestrians. The advocates say the measures reduce the number of motorists using 39th Avenue as a through-street and that the changes help prevent speeding.

However, the petitioners argue that the changes are too complex, unnecessary and have instead made the roads less safe.

They are calling on the DOT to reverse the road changes immediately. The petition is addressed to the Mayor Bill de Blasio, the DOT Commissioner, Queens DOT Commissioner, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, State Sen. Mike Gianaris, Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan, Community Board 2 and other officials.

“What we have is chaos,” the petition reads. “These short, previously unproblematic and two-way streets are now a mess. Whoever rushed the installation was not focusing on our safety.”

The group claims that the process to approve the plan was “rushed through” via online meetings with little community notice and insufficient input from residents.

The bike boulevard was approved by Community Board 2 in June by a vote of 21-11 during a Zoom board meeting.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Neir's is now part of the city's geography

 Queens Post

A street in Woodhaven has been co-named after historic neighborhood bar Neir’s Tavern.

The corner of 78th Street and 88th Avenue was co-named “Neir’s Tavern Way” during a ceremony Saturday hosted by Council Member Robert Holden. The establishment, located at 87-48 78th St., is credited by some historians as being the oldest bar in New York City.

Holden passed legislation earlier this year to designate the street corner “Neir’s Tavern Way.” The watering hole is about to celebrate its 192nd year in business.

The bar was in danger of shutting down in early 2020 when owner Loycent Gordon was unable to reach an agreement with his landlord when his lease was up for renewal. Several elected officials and community leaders stepped in to save the bar and a new lease was negotiated.

“I’m very proud of how our community came together to save this storied establishment and to further preserve its place in Queens history with the street co-naming,” Holden said in a statement.


LaGuardia air train derails


NY Post 

Gov. Kathy Hochul has told the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to find an alternative to disgraced ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $2.1 billion “AirTrain” pet project between LaGuardia Airport and eastern Queens.

“I have asked the Port Authority to thoroughly examine alternative mass transit solutions for reducing car traffic and increasing connectivity to LaGuardia Airport,” Hochul said in a statement Monday afternoon — hours before elected officials representing the impacted section of Queens were set to hold a press conference against the boondoggle.

“We must ensure that our transportation projects are bold, visionary, and serve the needs of New Yorkers,” Hochul said. “I remain committed to working expeditiously to rebuild our infrastructure for the 21st century and to create jobs – not just at LaGuardia, but at all of our airports and transit hubs across New York.”

“I don’t feel obligated to accept what I have inherited,” Hochul added later Monday at a press conference in Brooklyn. “There were alternatives on the table that even the FAA said that people were saying people were not looking at as close as they should.”

Queens is burning: Inferno disembowels house in South Richmond Hill



Impunity City 





Monday, October 4, 2021

Homeless services provider CEO that almost got the contract to run Trump's golf course makes a million a year profiting from the housing insecure

Jack A. Brown III, the chief executive of CORE Services Group. 

NY Times 

Some executives at nonprofit groups that operate New York City homeless shelters are benefiting from the plight of the people they serve.

Soon after Jack A. Brown III quit his job at a private prison company, his former employer accused him of fraud. A few years later, after Mr. Brown started a nonprofit to run halfway houses, a federal audit found that it had failed to deliver key services. The New York State comptroller concluded in another review that Mr. Brown had shown “a disturbing pattern of ethical violations.”

None of that history seemed to bother officials in New York City.

Since 2017, as homelessness has risen to record levels, the city has awarded more than $352 million to a nonprofit run by Mr. Brown to operate shelters. The money is meant to help homeless people regain their footing in life, but it has benefited Mr. Brown, too.

The nonprofit has channeled contracts worth at least $32 million into for-profit companies tied to Mr. Brown, allowing him to earn more than $1 million a year, The New York Times found. Millions more have gone to real estate companies in which he has an ownership interest. He has also hired his family members and given employees perks such as gym memberships and cars.

 When Mayor Bill de Blasio came into office, he criticized a small group of landlords for charging the city exorbitant rates to house people in squalid rooms while doing little to curb homelessness. In 2017, the mayor pledged to open dozens of new shelters that would be managed by nonprofit groups. Their mission, he said, would be altruistic rather than driven by financial gain.

But four years after that change and an extraordinary infusion of city spending, homeless people still crowd shelters and set up camps on the street, while a new group of operators has figured out how to make money off their plight.

An investigation by The Times, based on hundreds of pages of legal filings, business records and tax documents, as well as interviews with homeless people, city officials and shelter employees, found that under the cloak of charity, executives at nonprofits have collected large salaries, spent their budgets on companies that they or their families controlled and installed relatives in high-paying jobs.

One landlord started a nonprofit that handed out millions of dollars to real estate and maintenance companies that he and his family owned. A Bronx shelter operator was charged earlier this year with laundering kickbacks through a consulting company run by his family. A former board member of another homelessness organization is under criminal investigation after the city said the group paid millions of dollars to a web of for-profit entities he secretly oversaw.

For years, Mr. Brown has personally prospered by running an organization to help the homeless.

In addition to serving as the chief executive of the nonprofit he founded, CORE Services Group, Mr. Brown started a security guard company that polices his shelters, a maintenance company that makes repairs in them and a catering company that feeds the residents, records showed. Mr. Brown heads each of them, collecting total compensation that tops $1 million. He is the highest-paid shelter operator in New York, according to a review of available records.

(This guy is the Jeff Bezos of homeless shelters-JQ LLC)

In one year alone, the for-profit companies that Mr. Brown ran spent more than $460,000 on gym memberships for employees, records showed.

Mr. Brown, 53, has profited in other ways: Along with partners, he owns two companies that have rented buildings to CORE, and his mother, sister, aunt and niece have all worked at the nonprofit, in addition to his brother, who has collected a six-figure salary.

At the same time, residents at one of the largest shelters in Mr. Brown’s operation, Beach House in Queens, said they lived with vermin infestations, creeping mold and violent fights in the hallways.

“A lot of money is going into this place,” said Annabelle Alexander, who lived in the Beach House shelter for more than a year before moving out last week. “But it’s not going to us.”

State and federal laws prohibit nonprofit organizations from engaging in many types of self-dealing, the practice of executives benefiting personally from their organizations without proper disclosure. But the line between permissible transactions and illegal behavior can be hazy, and nonprofit executives are rarely prosecuted for financial abuses.

In fact, executives at the groups that run shelters in New York are permitted to run profitable side businesses — all fueled by city money — as long as they reveal the information to the city and follow contracting rules.

This year, the city has directed $2.6 billion to nonprofits to operate homeless shelters, and officials already know they have a problem with some of them. Nine of the 62 groups that run shelters are on an internal city watch list for issues that include conflicts of interest and financial problems, according to records reviewed by The Times. All of them continue to receive city funding.


A leading homeless shelter operator has pulled out from a deal to take over a Bronx public golf course after the Trump Organization exits the links at Mayor Bill de Blasio’s demand.

“CORE Services Group, Inc. has decided to withdraw from consideration,” an attorney for the Brooklyn-based nonprofit wrote in an email to executives with the city Department of Parks and Recreation and the golf course operator Bobby Jones Links on Wednesday.

THE CITY exposed CORE’s unlikely involvement Monday, after public records revealed Parks’ proposed 13-year deal to put a company registered by CORE CEO Jack A. Brown in charge of the deluxe Jack Nicklaus-designed 18-hole course near the Whitestone Bridge.

“We are disappointed that we are unable to move forward with this project at this time and help bring workforce training and jobs to communities in New York City that are underrepresented in the sport of golf,” a spokesperson for CORE, which has $544 million in current contracts for family and single adult shelters, said in a statement.

“We will continue our work breaking barriers and creating new opportunities for all New Yorkers.”

Asked Tuesday morning about THE CITY’s report on the future of the Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point, de Blasio said that CORE would be “only working on some of the staffing. It is not the organization that’s operating the whole golf course.”

That organization, Parks officials said, will be Bobby Jones Links. Yet the Atlanta-based golf course operator has not responded to multiple inquiries from THE CITY and is not listed in any public records related to Brown’s company, Ferry Point Links LLC.