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.
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.
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.
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
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?”
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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
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
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.’”
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.
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.
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.
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.
The leader of New York City's
school system will step down amid the coronavirus pandemic and ongoing
struggles to achieve equity in classrooms.
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
"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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
“The contract was just approved and papers will be filed soon, and
we’ll reserve further comment until then,” spokesman Rich Azzopardi
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
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.
I should have been shocked by the Governor’s crude comment, but I wasn’t.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.”
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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)
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.
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 developerG&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.
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.
Singh, a mother who has lived there since 2017, said the owners and
management company have abandoned the building, leaving tenants to fend
“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
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.
are worried, scared and they’re suffering,” Kastin said. “They’re
sitting there, living in their winter coats. I don’t know how they
He said a worker came to the building on Friday to fix his hot water, but refused to hear any other tenant complaints.
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.
notice posted in the building the day after the hotel closed advised
residents to begin looking for another apartment immediately.
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.
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.
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
What made the Flushing attack especially alarming to
some Asian Americans is that it took place in a neighborhood that is
“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
“And this number understates the actual number of
anti-Asian hate incidents because most incidents are not reported,” the
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.
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.”
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
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
"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
My friend’s mom is a 5’3” 50+ Chinese woman and she was attacked by this guy in Flushing, NY yesterday on Main St and Roosevelt between 2-4pm. She left the hospital with 10 stitches in her head.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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,
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.
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!
The FBI and the U.S. attorney's office in
Brooklyn have launched an investigation that is examining, at least in
part, the actions of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's coronavirus task force in
its handling of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities during the pandemic, the Times Union has learned.
The probe by the U.S. attorney's office in the Eastern
District of New York is apparently in its early stages and is focusing
on the work of some of the senior members of the governor's task force,
according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter who is not
authorized to comment publicly.
A Queens politician who raised more than $35,000 to replace a
vandalized community refrigerator accepted the contributions through her
campaign account, raising questions about the transparency of her
When a fridge
providing free food to the hungry outside state Sen. Jessica Ramos’s
East Elmhurst office was damaged last month, the outcry was loud and
contributions to replace it poured in quickly.
“The community fridge outside our district office was vandalized and
destroyed last night. So many of our neighbors depend on the generosity
of other neighbors to get through these difficult times. Now this
lifeline is gone. I’m heartbroken,” Ramos tweeted Jan. 2., garnering coverage from multiple news outlets.
In a follow-up tweet, the Democrat included a link to accept
contributions, explaining, “We’re going to need your help to keep our
community fridge project going. Any little bit helps! 100% of your
donations will keep our fridge stocked for our neighbors.”
But the link took visitors to an ActBlue page for her campaign account.
The page, since taken down, stated, “All proceeds from this link will
go directly to keeping the refrigerator stocked for our neighbors in
need.” Above boxes used for specifying the amount of one’s contribution,
the page said, “Your contribution will benefit Jessica Ramos.”
The more than $35,000 in contributions raised through the effort made
up the majority of Ramos’s campaign haul for January, according to state
She spent $6,000 on consultants and a few hundred on staff meals and
transportation — but no money for the fridge or food for the community.
“It’s not right,” Betsy Gotbaum, executive director of government
watchdog Citizens Union, told the Daily News. “I would not mix campaign
work with charity.
months, Assemblyman Ron Kim has been one of the few Democratic
lawmakers willing to criticize Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo for his handling of
the state’s nursing homes during the pandemic, pressing for
investigations into the matter.
So when a top aide to Mr. Cuomo recently admitted that his administration had withheld nursing home data from state lawmakers,
Mr. Kim, whose Queens district was hit hard by the coronavirus, said it
appeared the governor was “trying to dodge having any incriminating
Hours after Mr. Kim made that comment to The New York Post
last Thursday, he said he got an irate late-night call from the
governor. Mr. Cuomo began with a question — “Are you an honorable man?” —
and then proceeded to yell for 10 minutes, Mr. Kim recalled,
threatening to publicly tarnish the assemblyman and urging him to issue a
new statement clarifying his remarks.
Mr. Cuomo made good on his threat on Wednesday afternoon.
a remarkable retort, the governor used his press briefing to lob
allegations of impropriety at the assemblyman, saying that he and his
administration have had a “long and hostile relationship” with Mr. Kim,
now in his fifth term.
In particular, Mr. Cuomo was angered and combative about a letter published by The New York Post
that was signed by several Assembly members, including Mr. Kim. The
letter, citing the governor’s delays in releasing a complete tally of
deaths of nursing home residents, including those that happened after a
resident was transferred to a hospital, accused Mr. Cuomo of attempting
to circumvent a federal probe and “intentional obstruction of justice.”
Italicized passages and many of the photos come from other websites. The links to these websites are provided within the posts.
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