Monday, May 31, 2021
Just thought I'd put that out there.
#MemorialDay looks a bit different this year without the traditional parades, but #ForestHills knows the importance of honoring our fallen heroes no matter the circumstances.— Queens Borough President Donovan Richards (@QnsBPRichards) May 30, 2021
Honored to join today’s ceremony and pay tribute to those neighborhood residents who sacrificed for us. pic.twitter.com/QncAVgMMvJ
Memorial Day is a solemn reminder of the ultimate sacrifice that many of our service members in the United States Armed Forces made defending our country.— Elizabeth Crowley (@ElizCrowleyNYC) May 31, 2021
With these heavy hearts, we offer our thoughts and gratitude to the families of those who lost loved ones in battle. pic.twitter.com/SAUMkP5ie8
I was proud to participate in this year's Memorial Day wreath laying ceremony with the United Veterans and Fraternal Organizations of Maspeth and @MaspethFederal. The rain could not dampen our grateful spirit.— Robert Holden (@BobHoldenNYC) May 30, 2021
#MemorialDay2021 #maspeth pic.twitter.com/aSfNawGKmd
Shamelessly barnstorming apartment buildings and quiet neighborhoods for votes:
All this rain has produced at least one good thing - higher than average contact rates on the doors! pic.twitter.com/tyFuZ1gtn6— Jimmy Van Bramer (@JimmyVanBramer) May 30, 2021
A new flag pole will go up in the Blissville section of Long Island City where a century-old pole was located before it was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
The original flagpole, which was part of the Blissville Veterans Memorial that was established after WWI, was cut down by the city shortly after it was damaged by the hurricane.
Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer said that he had been trying to get the Dept. of Transportation to erect a new pole at the site—which is located where Greenpoint Avenue, Review Avenue, and Van Dam Street all meet—with little success.
Van Bramer said that the agency had failed the community and that he has decided to step in and allocate $500,000 from the city budget to have it replaced.
“The Blissville Civic Association, Community Board 2 and [local resident] Thomas Mituzas have been trying to get the DOT to take responsibility and shamefully they refused at every turn,” Van Bramer said. “Ultimately, I wanted to get this done for the community.”
The $500,000 will be used to replace the flagpole, upgrade the memorial and the public space that surrounds it.
“I want this to be a civic space that the people of Blissvillle can take pride in,” Van Bramer said. “It is of great significance to the residents.”
Sunday, May 30, 2021
Looks like the letter “A” now stands for “arrest.”
A graffiti vandal who allegedly scrawled crudely drawn letter “A’s” on the side of nearly two dozen cars in Queens was busted Friday, cops said.
Herberto Torres, 57, who has 43 prior arrests, was hit with 46 counts of making graffiti and criminal mischief after being arrested at 12:15 a.m. Friday, cops said.
He allegedly spray-painted multiple cars with the letter “A” — which is a nickname he goes by, according to authorities and police sources.
The alleged graffiti bandit was tracked to an auto body shop where he worked, because a customer’s vehicle was used in the crimes, sources said.
After his arrest, he was let free on a desk appearance ticket, sources said.
Cops tallied 65 graffiti incidents dating back to late March — and at this point, Torres has been charged with 46 of them, police said. The remaining incidents are under investigation.
On March 26, on 35th Street between 31st Avenue and Broadway, 20 vehicles were vandalized between 8:30 and 10:11 a.m., police said.
Then on May 18, between 4 a.m. and 9 a.m., 20 more vehicles were targeted on 27th Street between 23rd Avenue and Ditmars Boulevard, police said.
The next day, 17 vehicles were graffitied on 33rd Street between 23rd Avenue and Ditmars Boulevard between 9 a.m. and 11:45 a.m., authorities said.
The final spree came on May 22, when eight vehicles were spray-painted on 32nd Street between 34th Avenue and Broadway between 7:35 a.m. and 10 a.m., cops said.
Back in October, Torres was busted for allegedly tagging more than 50 cars in Jackson Heights with spray paint spelling out “BLM” or “AOC,” police said.
Saturday, May 29, 2021
Nice maskless cluster going on there de Blasio, considering that other communities couldn't have memorial day parades because of continuing pandemic guidelines. Talk about not being seen.
Update: Looks like PIX is also engaging in shadowbanning me. They took down the original upload and put up a new one and wiped out all my comments.
While the customary Memorial Day parades will once again be sidelined this year, residents of Queens still will honor those who have fallen in service to the country.
The Bayside Hills Civic Association will host its annual ceremony at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 29 at Bell Boulevard Mall and 53rd Avenue.
The office of Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz will livestream a memorial ceremony and wreath laying from the Queens Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Elmhurst Park beginning at 11 a.m. today, May 27.
Honorees will include LTC. (Ret.) Blossom Ferguson, a veteran of Operation Desert Storm; Vietnam veteran Paul Feddern; and Mariam Sanni-Adigun of the Marine Corps Reserve who served in Operation Enduring Freedom.
The ceremony will be livestreamed at queensda.org/livestream.
The 32nd annual Laurelton Memorial Day Service will take place at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, May 31, at Veterans Memorial Triangle, located at 225th Street and North Conduit Avenue.
Founded in 1927 and the largest such event in the country, the Little Neck-Douglaston parade this year will be replaced on Monday, May 31, with an interfaith service at 10 a.m. at Little Neck Community Church, located at 46-16 Little Neck Parkway.
It will be followed by a wreath-laying ceremony at St. Anastasia’s parking lot at the corner of Northern Boulevard and Alameda Avenue.
Information for those who cannot attend the ceremonies in person but would like to view them via Zoom is available online on the parade’s official website at lndmemorialday.org.
The United Veterans and Fraternal Organizations of Maspeth will lay wreaths at four sites on Saturday, May 29, beginning at 10 a.m. at the Queens Vietnam Veterans Memorial at 79th Street and Grand Avenue.
Participants will proceed to the Garlinge Memorial Triangle at 72nd Place and Grand Avenue; Maspeth Memorial Square at 69th Street and Grand Avenue near Maspeth Federal Savings; and Mount Olivet Cemetery at 6540 Grand Ave.
American Legion Continental Post #1424 will have its annual memorial ceremony at noon on Sunday, May 30 at Remsen Cemetery on Trotting Course Lane, where members of the Remsen family who were killed in the Revolutionary War now rest.
The College Point Memorial Day Parade Committee will host a car parade beginning at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 30.
The lineup will begin at 1:30 p.m. on 28th Avenue between College Point Boulevard and Ulmer Street, near the Police Academy. The caravan then will proceed to Hermon A. MacNeil Park on Poppenhusen Avenue.
American Legion Post 301 and the Queens Village Civic Association will have a wreath -aying ceremony at 11 a.m. on Monday, May 31 at Veteran Plaza at the intersection of Jamaica Avenue and Springfield Boulevard.
The Rosedale Civic Association will host a memorial service at 12:30 p.m. on Monday, May 31, at the Veterans and Vietnam Veterans memorial monuments, which are located at separate sites at the intersection of Francis Lewis Boulevard and Sunrise Highway.
VVA Chapter 32
Members of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 32 will visit three monuments to their fallen brethren on Sunday, May 30.
The first will be at 9:30 a.m. at Nine Heroes Plaza located at Broadway, 41st Avenue and 76th Street in Elmhurst.
That will be followed at 10:15 a.m. at 57th Street and Woodside Avenue in Woodside near St. Sebastian’s Church. The final stop will be at the memorial on 108th Street in Corona near the Long Island Expressway.
Chapter 32 also will be participating in District Attorney Katz’s ceremony in Elmhurst on May 27.
Whitestone will host a ceremony at 11 a.m. on Monday, May 31 at Veterans Field at Harvey Park, located at 15th Drive and 149th Street.
Friday, May 28, 2021
The weekly Coronavirus sequencing data report released Wednesday showed the fifth, consecutive week of a drop in the number of Coronavirus specimen samples used for the sequencing of variants by the de Blasio administration. The sequencing data, for the week of May 10-16, reported that the trend in a highly contagious Coronavirus variant that has been deemed a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organisation has only increased by one tenth of one per cent. from the prior week. The B.1.617.2 variant has been reported to be roughly 50 per cent. more communicable than another variant prominent in the United Kingdom, and in some parts of England this variant is causing the majority of infections. Infections by variants, like B.1.617.2, have possible attributes that are “predicted to affect” vaccine escape, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yet, the sequencing data released Wednesday showed almost no change in this particular Coronavirus substrain from the prior week week.
The collapse in the number of sample sizes raises questions about the Coronavirus variant trend data published by NYC Health, the Municipal Agency reporting the data.
For this report, Mayor Bill de Blasio (WFP-New York City) refused to admit that he was tampering with the sample sizes in order to distort the sequencing study findings. As Progress New York has reported, Mayor de Blasio has been solely focused on reopening the economy after the confinement orders issued beginning in March 2020 closed all nonessential business activity in New York City. An interview request made to the Mayor’s Office was never answered for this report.
As reported by Progress New York, the sample size for the weekly Coronavirus sequencing reports has been falling since a peak of 1,831 samples were sequenced for the week of April 5-11. This week’s report showed that a mere 361 samples were sequenced, a fall to 19,7 per cent. of its April high.
Because the de Blasio administration has refused to explain the drop, it is not known how a sample size that is less than 20 per cent. of what it was five weeks ago remains random enough to be able to ethically make generalisations about trends in Coronavirus variants that are infecting the general population, particularly since confidence levels and the margins of error of studies influence sample sizes in statistical analyses.
The drop in the sample size is taking place as the number of individuals, who are getting tested for the Coronavirus, is also dropping. According to NYC Health Coronavirus testing data, the seven-day moving average of combined antigen and molecular testing for 23 May stood at 68,6 per cent. of the number of tests taken when compared with the similar metric for 11 April.
At Wednesday’s press conference, Dr. Dave A. Chokshi, the commissioner for NYC Health, and Dr. Jay Varma, the mayor’s senior advisor on public health, acknowledged the drop in the number of Coronavirus tests being administered and explained the drop in testing as working in an inverse relationship to the number of increased Coronavirus vaccinations being given.
Placing so much emphasis on testing of the unvaccinated ignores asymptomatic vaccine escape infections, as well as the known concern with waning vaccine immunity that may require boosters, the latter an issue yet to be addressed by U.S. Government health ministers. Since Coronavirus testing appears to now be focused on the unvaccinated, that also can skew the randomness of weekly sequencing report data.
A Queens mom and her three daughters remained in critical condition Thursday after firefighters plucked the unconscious victims from a raging fire inside their third-floor apartment, authorities said.
The FDNY fought through heavy fire conditions to find the women lying on the floor after the 4:15 a.m. blaze erupted, with firefighters pulling the injured quartet to safety before EMS rushed them to Jamaica Hospital, fire officials said.
All four remained in critical but stable condition hours later, and FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said there was no smoke alarm inside their apartment.
The family’s patriarch told the Daily News that he was waiting for word from doctors on the conditions of his wife and the daughters aged 23, 19, and 15.
“It’s not clear yet,” said the distraught dad. “The doctor says we need to wait 24 hours. So bad. I’m shocked.”
Nigro said the cause of the blaze remained under investigation, but emphasized the call reporting the fire came from an adjoining building on 101st Ave. near 102nd St. in Jamaica and no smoke alarm was found at the home.
“That’s a critical piece of information for this fire because these four women were not alerted to the fire,” he explained. “That’s just very sad.”
Friday is Crappy Caption Day. What words would possibly be going through Holden's mind if there was a cartoon thought balloon there?
I'd like to dedicate this to #JuanAnon, the shitlib fringe supporters of Juan Ardila, who think yours truly and the original Crapper are the same entity and also think that the Council Member is somehow linked to this blog when QC was running it for over a decade, and in the last three years since I took over. Well here's your chance to vent your frustrations on the comment thread and not on facebook or twitter where I can't respond to you.
Winner of best caption gets nothing, but later on when you die, you will receive total consciousness. Which is nice.
Construction unions may be nearing a victory in their war on “body shops.”
A new City Council bill would impose licensing and disclosure mandates on companies competing with union labor at construction sites.
The bill, expected to be introduced by Council member Diana Ayala on Thursday, would require labor brokers to obtain a license from the city and report their workers’ demographics, wages and benefits twice a year.
The measure has been sought by the construction laborers union, Local 79, which wants the city to crack down on nonunion companies that supply low-wage laborers to general contractors. The union accuses them of exploiting women and the formerly incarcerated in particular.
“Construction body shops provide developers with a cheap labor pool, made up of black and brown justice-affected nonunion workers,” Ayala said in a statement. “Body shops take advantage of the scarcity of employment opportunities for re-entry workers, and effectively force these workers into dangerous jobs, with no training, for low pay. They prey on the fears of resentencing.”
But the nonunion firms say their jobs are a lifeline to people leaving prison, providing them with pay and skills that help them get back on their feet. Union construction jobs are much harder to get, they say, and involve navigating a system that is confusing and arcane for many New Yorkers.
Under the proposed legislation, companies applying for a license must provide proof of insurance, disclose their ownership structure and certify that they comply with the law. The city can deny a license if the company — or an affiliated predecessor — has outstanding legal penalties or if the Department of Consumer Affairs and Worker Protection deems that it “lacks good moral character.”
Companies that operate without the license would face $200-a-day fines. General contractors, subcontractors and licensed employment agencies/organizations would be exempt. A separate City Council bill is seeking to require general contractors to obtain a license.
Over the past decade, unions have lost ground to nonunion general labor firms, especially in the affordable housing market. Local 79, however, has negotiated with developers, agreeing to wage concessions to win work.
Last month the City Council’s Committee on Consumer Affairs, which is chaired by Ayala, held a hearing on employment agencies and other labor-placing businesses. The meeting largely focused on body shops, as the union calls them.
At the time, the Real Estate Board of New York proposed alternatives to address allegations of exploitation, including increasing funding to the Department of Consumer Affairs “to better protect justice-involved and other vulnerable workers from wage theft and other unsafe or illegal practices.” The organization also pitched requiring that workers on publicly funded construction jobs be paid more than minimum wage, plus benefits.
A campaign mailer sent out by Elizabeth Crowley that reads “eviction notice” in large font has sparked outrage among her critics.
The mailer, released by her campaign last week, was intended to attack Queens Borough President Donovan Richards for accepting real estate money—but was viewed by many as being in poor taste.
The “eviction notice” was accompanied by a message accusing Richards of taking campaign money from developers and landlords—many of whom Crowley says are trying to kick struggling tenants out.
“Queens is ready for its comeback, but first we have to end our housing crisis and make sure our neighbors can stay in their homes,” the mailer also reads.
Some felt the mailer was insensitive, since many people are struggling to pay the rent.
Thursday, May 27, 2021
A developer has filed permits to demolish a number of buildings in Rego Park, including a popular diner and a synagogue that occupies a historic Art Deco building.
RJ Capital Holdings, under the name Trylon LLC, filed the demolition permits on May 3 for the triangular lot at 98-85 Queens Blvd. where Tower Diner, Ohr Natan Synagogue and several businesses sit.
The development company aims to rezone the site in order to build a 16-story mixed-use building on the soon-to-be empty lot. The rezoning plans have yet to be certified by the Dept. of City Planning, with the public review process still to take place.
Rudolf Abramov, managing principal of RJ Capital Holdings, previously told the Queens Post that he aims to offer Ohr Natan Synagogue space in the new building, as well as any other current tenants who are interested.
The synagogue is a popular place of worship for members of the Bukharian community in the neighborhood. It occupies the building that once was the historic Art Deco-styled Trylon Theater, which opened in 1939 and closed in 1999. It serves a congregation of roughly 1,000 members, mostly residents of Rego Park and Forest Hills.
The leaders of the synagogue and the development company have been at odds with each other for years, but have since reconciled and hope to establish a home for Ohr Natan in the proposed development.
As city council's about to raise rent voucher caps to help the homeless, The Blaz prefers to keep them unhoused
Odds are that a bill to raise the value of rental vouchers for homeless New Yorkers will pass the City Council Thursday afternoon.
The measure would beef up the city’s Family Homelessness & Eviction Prevention Supplement or FHEPS voucher to match the higher rates guaranteed by the federal Section 8 program.
The legislation is championed by City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and has 40 sponsors — six more members than Johnson would need to override a veto by Mayor Bill de Blasio, who raised a red flag on the bill this week. Landlord and tenant groups support it.
In an interview with NY 1’s Errol Louis Monday night, de Blasio acknowledged he had opposed bumping the price of city vouchers in the past because he wants the state to match the raise.
In March, de Blasio sent a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo asking him to increase state FHEPS vouchers to federal fair-market rates, so he might do the same for the city’s subsidies.
De Blasio said if the city alone lifted limits, landlords might discriminate against apartment seekers bearing state FHEPS vouchers.
State budget proposals had included $2.3 million for such a raise, plus $200 million for a new voucher program sponsored by Sen. Brian Kavanagh, but both were dropped from the final budget this spring.
The mayor, who has never vetoed a bill — largely because the council rarely passes legislation he opposes — told NY 1 he thinks there’s a good chance the state will get on board with the raise.
“Look, I think we can get this all pulled together, get the state to act, the city to act and get everything aligned in a process to help more homeless folks,” the mayor said.
It’s clear that the pandemic has impacted New Yorkers’ ability to pay rent. What’s less clear is exactly how much rent debt has been amassed since the beginning of last year — a crucial piece of the puzzle for policymakers in determining how much relief to extend to tenants and landlords.
A report released Wednesday by New York University’s Furman Center aims to inform the efforts of lawmakers in apportioning those funds.
The findings offer a snapshot of citywide rent debt by analyzing rent owed by tenants in 13,163 affordable housing units concentrated in the South Bronx and North Brooklyn. (Some data was included for units in Manhattan and Queens.)
The analysis focuses on buildings with over nine units with apartments financed by Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC). Some units are also home to recipients of Section 8 vouchers. The buildings used in the sample were able to provide granular rent ledger data, enabling the Furman Center to take a detailed look at the distribution of arrears.
According to the report, rent owed by tenants in the sample more than doubled during the first year of the pandemic, while the portion of families that have incurred severe rent debt has jumped even higher.
Tuesday, May 25, 2021
An Asian man was pushed toward train tracks at a Long Island City subway station by an unidentified man Monday morning, and the NYPD is investigating it as a possible hate crime.
A 35-year-old Asian man was standing at the 21 Street−Queensbridge F train platform at about 7:43 a.m. on Monday, May 24, when suddenly he was approached by an unknown man, according to police. The unidentified man said something reportedly incomprehensible and then shoved the 35-year-old man onto the southbound tracks, authorities say.
Passengers who were at the station helped the man out of the tracks, police say, but the man sustained a deep cut to his forehead and was transported by EMS to nearby Mount Sinai Queens Hospital in stable condition, according to police.
The unidentified individual then ran out of the station to the street and fled in an unknown direction, police say. He is described as 6 feet tall and in his 20s or 30s and was last seen wearing a black mask, black hoodie, black pants and black shoes.
Police say a man was stabbed during a robbery near the A train station in South Ozone Park on Monday night.
The incident happened near Lefferts Boulevard and Liberty Avenue.
It wasn’t immediately clear if the victim was on the train or the platform.
Police said he was stabbed in the chest during a robbery and his wallet was taken.
Eric Adams shady PAC fund raising reveals connections to Schnepps Media and Brooklyn developers that once rallied behind de Blasio
So the New York Times today has a deep dive on Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams's relationship with donors, How Eric Adams, Mayoral Candidate, Mixed Money and Political Ambition, which sounds a lot like a deep dive the Times did on his predecessor, Marty Markowitz. 10/24/11, From Brooklyn Office, Mixing Clout and Charity.
The Times details how his "fund-raising has repeatedly pushed the boundaries of campaign-finance and ethics laws," such as a fund-raiser from real estate developer David Schwartz, whose Slate Property Group, just happened to get Adams to endorse a zoning change for a project in Downtown Brooklyn.
The Slate executive was one of at least three donors receiving the borough president’s endorsement for zoning changes against the wishes of community boards. The others were also later approved by the City Council.
Note that that One Brooklyn publication is published by Schneps Media, which controls the lion's share of neighborhood media in Brooklyn (Brooklyn Paper, Brownstoner, Courier-Life, Caribbean Life) and the Metro/amNY, as well as other publications. Let's not expect a lot of investigative reporting from them.
Jed Walentas, who runs the development firm Two Trees Management, is limited to $400 in campaign contributions per election cycle, because he is on the list of people doing business with the city. But Mr. Walentas’s family foundation has given One Brooklyn $50,000, records show. (Mr. Adams’s campaign has also received at least $24,000 from other donors solicited by or connected to Mr. Walentas.)Hmm. That reminds me somehow of what he said in 2013 about affordable housing: "We need to look at what Bruce Ratner is doing, with his great, really cutting-edge, trying to build up using pre-fab housing, can we do this throughout in the borough of Brooklyn, and can we encourage others to do that as well."
For his part, Mr. Adams championed a $2.7 billion streetcar plan that Mr. Walentas has promoted through a group he founded, Friends of Brooklyn Queens Connector Inc. The streetcar, Mr. Adams tweeted in 2018, “has real potential to be one of those solutions for our disconnected waterfront.” The project stalled, and Mr. Adams has recently distanced himself from it in the glare of the mayoral race.
The borough president is also in line to issue an opinion on a rezoning request for Two Trees’ next big project, River Ring, a pair of apartment and commercial towers with a waterfront park in Williamsburg
Mr. Adams, in a recent interview, said he was already “extremely impressed” with the way the Two Trees plan had taken account of rising sea levels. “This is how we need to start thinking,” he added. Mr. Walentas declined to comment.
Monday, May 24, 2021
Jackson Heights residents are feuding with "friends" lobby over the city's "gold standard" open street
Two separate groups of Jackson Heights residents are ramping up efforts to see their different visions for 34th Avenue become reality.
While one is advocating for 34th Avenue to be transformed into a permanent park, the other is seeking to reduce current restrictions on vehicle traffic.
About 1.3 miles of 34th Avenue – as well as other streets throughout the city – are part of the city’s Open Streets program, which closes roadways to through traffic for pedestrian and cyclist use.
In April, the City Council passed legislation to make the Open Streets program permanent, which the mayor signed into law May 13.
On 34th Avenue, traffic is now restricted – from 69th Street to 78th Street and from 78th to Junction Boulevard from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. The setup, however, allows vehicles to use north- and south-bound streets that cross 34th Avenue.
The city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) called 34th Avenue the “gold standard” of the Open Streets program in a news release announcing that it had installed its 1,000th bike rack last week.
The racks were being put in the roadway on 34th Avenue and at 81st Street. Other bike parking has also been set up on the Open Street at 69th Street and 77th Street at Travers Park, a spokesperson for the agency said.
But the bike racks highlighted a divergence in residents’ opinions about the Open Street and traffic on the roadway. Some residents are advocating for the Open Street to be shorter and say that it is detrimental to those who drive—including delivery workers.
In a statement, the DOT said, “We will continue to gather feedback that we will consider as we develop design proposals for the future of the corridor.” The agency said it plans to present its findings to the community in June.
Some Jackson Heights residents want the city to take the pedestrian and cyclist thoroughfare a step further – and are advocating for 34th Avenue to be made into a permanent park.
The group – Friends of 34th Avenue Linear Park – created a petition for their proposal, which as of Wednesday had received about 1,600 signatures, said volunteer Josefina Bahamondes.
“The benefits that the linear park can bring into the neighborhood are immense,” she said. Bahamondes, who is an early childhood teacher, explained that if 34th Avenue became a park it would allow kids more space to play, which would help their development.
However, the avenue already has reduced vehicle access, according to another group of residents.
The group, called 34Compromise, said in a statement that the Open Street has made it more difficult for drivers, including delivery drivers dropping off homebound seniors, and has increased noise on the avenue.
“There are so many people and residents of the avenue that are not ok with the avenue as it is right now,” said Paola Peguero, a volunteer with the 34Compromise group. She also said she wished the bike racks on 81st Street had been installed on the sidewalk – instead of taking away two parking spaces.
The group started its own petition, which had more than 800 signatures as of Thursday morning.
The petition describes several adjustments that they believe “could make the situation better for everyone.”
Grande iced coffee drinking cell phone addicts seem to like it.
They have an appetite for obstruction!
Restaurants have gobbled up around 8,550 publicly-owned curbside parking spots for their outdoor seating set-ups since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to city data.
Since last June, City Hall and the Department of Transportation have let eateries build the dining areas in the now-former spots outside their storefronts. At the time, indoor eating was restricted amid the pandemic, though Mayor de Blasio has declared that the program will be permanent and year-round.
Around 11,500 restaurants joined the program, of which about 5,700 have chosen to set up shop along the curb. That adds up to “roughly” 8,550 spots transformed — out of around 3 million total parking spots across the five boroughs, City Hall spokesman Mitch Schwartz said.
For the operators of TRU Astoria cafe on Ditmars Boulevard, the extra space was well worth the trade-off — as business has “more than doubled” since installing dining tables along the sidewalk and curb.
“Thank god we adjusted. The extended patio. The outdoor seating. Being able to use the street. It strengthened our brand,” said Yanni Stathakis, 48, operations director for Astoria Hospitality Group, which owns the eatery.
“People in all five boroughs are now coming to Astoria to eat here at Ditmars. It was good the city did this.”
But just across the road, Sal Barretta of Alba’s Pizza said the program has taken a bite out of his business.
“My customers are telling me they aren’t coming here because they can’t find parking,” said Barretta, who opted not to set up dining tables in the roadbed because he figured there was plenty of space inside.
“The sheds, I did not do it. Maybe I should have,” Baretta said. “But we don’t need to be on the street. We have 101 seats inside. These sheds, really dangerous. It’s a huge liability. It’s dirty. It’s dangerous. You’re breathing in all the exhaust from the cars.”
Baretta said the restaurant next door to his closed months ago — but its outdoor dining set-up continues to clog up potential parking spots.
“The place next door, six months out of business. Still these three parking spots are closed because he left these out in the street,” Baretta said. “It makes no sense, but with this mayor — there’s no enforcement, no oversight. I don’t know what they hell he’s doing.”
Sunday, May 23, 2021
The home of a Woodside senior was spray-painted with the “anarchy” symbol Tuesday night and the tires of a nearby vehicle were slashed.
In another incident on Wednesday night, nearly 20 vehicles in Astoria were targeted with a similar type of graffiti. It is unclear if both incidents are related, police said.
The vandalism in Woodside took place on 63rd Street. The owner informed Council Member Bob Holden of the crimes who subsequently told police.
Holden and members of the NYPD visited the scene and the lawmaker posted images of the destructive scrawl to Twitter.
The front garden wall of the building was spray-painted three times with a capital letter “A” inside a circle. The pattern symbolizes anarchy.
The building’s façade was hit four times with the symbol. The vandal used white spray paint.
All four tires on a 2013 Hyundai Elantra were also slashed Tuesday night. It was also spray-painted with the anarchy symbol. The car was parked around the corner from the house on 64th Street.
“These people are serious about intimidation and they obviously have some hate for that person,” said Holden, who condemned the attack.
“We’ve got to catch them because they might come back and do it again.”
Holden believes the vehicle and the house were mistakenly hit. He said the suspects are targeting the owner of a red Hyundai living in the neighborhood.
He said that around two weeks ago a similar-looking car parked in the area had four of its tires slashed. It was also spray-painted with the anarchy symbol, he said.
Holden believes the suspects came back on Tuesday night and vandalized the senior’s house thinking their target lives there.
“They are causing thousands of dollars worth of damage,” said Holden, who emphasized that the NYPD is taking the matter very seriously.
“We think they will be caught because there are a lot of cameras around the house and in the area where the car was targeted,” he said.
The NYPD said it is also investigating an incident in Astoria Wednesday night where 19 vehicles were targeted with spray paint.
The vehicles were parked along 33rd Street between Ditmars Boulevard and 23rd Avenue and had either the “anarchy” symbol or the letter “A” sprayed painted across them, police said.
A mix of white and red-colored spray paint was used in the incident
The NYPD said it is looking into the possibility that the incidents on Tuesday night and Wednesday night are related.
Senator Charles Schumer and Congressman Ritchie Torres unveiled a push over the weekend for an $80-plus billion dollar investment in federal public housing funds via the just-proposed American Jobs Plan.
Schumer and Torres said after decades of disinvestment, bad management and federal neglect, NYCHA and its residents face a “now-or-never moment” to secure critically-needed investments via the American Jobs Plan.
The lawmakers said the administration’s plan calls for $40 billion dollars for the whole nation, but that number is not enough given the needs of public housing properties across the country, particularly in New York. Schumer and Torres said they are going to fight to double down on that proposal to ensure that it is at least $80 billion dollars.
“As a product of NYCHA, the subject of public and affordable housing is deeply personal to me,” Torres said. “Investing in and repairing public housing means investing in hard working families. While the American Jobs Plan proposes to invest $40 billion in public housing, that simply is not enough and will not cover all the capital repairs needed in public housing nationwide. We need to double that commitment in order to address the public housing repair backlog. Together with my House and Senate colleagues we will continue to push the Biden Administration to make significant investments in NYCHA and public housing authorities across the country.”
The American Jobs Plan called on Congress to invest $40 billion to improve the infrastructure of the public housing system in America. The funding “will address critical life-safety concerns, mitigate imminent hazards to residents, and undertake energy efficiency measures, which will significantly reduce ongoing operating expenses. The improvements will disproportionately benefit women, people of color, and people with disabilities.”
The billionaire who bought the priciest residence in the country on Central Park South is now spending some of his wealth to elect New York City’s next mayor — splitting $1 million between groups supporting Andrew Yang and Eric Adams, state records show.
Kenneth Griffin, a hedge fund manager mostly based in Chicago, stunned the city with his 2019 purchase of a $240 million Manhattan penthouse — still the most expensive home ever bought in the five boroughs.
He’s joined in backing the Adams and Yang independent expenditure groups by investor and charter school backer Daniel Loeb, who gave half a million dollars to each. Loeb has gained local notoriety for racially charged public statements.
As Politico first reported, the duo donated to the pro-Yang Comeback PAC, managed by political operative Lis Smith, who also advised Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign.
They also gave to Strong Leadership NYC, a super PAC that supports Adams and is led by Jenny Sedlis, who took a leave of absence from her role as the executive director of the charter schools advocacy group StudentsFirstNY.
Both Smith and Sedlis declined to comment but have said their goal is to raise $6 million apiece for their respective efforts, which under the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision can spend on candidates’ behalf but may not coordinate with their campaigns.
The spending is not subject to donation or spending limits that apply to contributions to campaigns participating in the city’s public matching-funds program.
Adams announced Tuesday that his campaign had raised nearly $11 million and would qualify for the maximum funds available to candidates through the $8-to-$1 public matching program. Yang’s campaign also said it had raised more than $10 million to qualify for the matching funds.
But such sums are rivaled by the escalating independent-expenditure arms race.
With less than five weeks before early voting begins for the election, groups allowed to raise money without limits are snowballing support from the uber-elite. Donors also include billionaire investor and progressive Democratic backer George Soros, who this week gave $1 million to ColorofChange PAC, which is supporting Maya Wiley.
Out of the eight leading mayoral candidates, only Kathryn Garcia and Dianne Morales lack independent spending groups to bankroll ad campaigns and other promotional efforts — a distinction Morales pointed out in the first official Democratic primary debate last week.
Saturday, May 22, 2021
For former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, who entered the New York City mayor’s race as a frontrunner in January, this week brought into sharp relief some yawning gaps between what he knows and what he doesn’t about the basic functioning of New York City.
On Thursday, flanked by former NYPD officer Edwin Raymond, who’s running for City Council, Yang was asked by NY Post reporter Julia Marsh if he supported the repeal of 50-a, the long-standing law that shielded police discipline records from public view. State legislatures repealed the law last year, amid massive public demonstrations following the murder of George Floyd.
“The repeal of 50-a,” Yang repeated, blankly. “Do you know what 50-a is?” Marsh prodded. “This is not the, it’s not the mandatory interview of the…” Raymond tried to push Yang towards the right subject area, muttering under his breath, “the records, the disciplinary records.” At which point Yang finally arrived — “Um, I think we should get more transparency in terms of police officers and their records.”
Earlier on Thursday, at a taped forum on the future of homelessness sponsored by WIN, the largest provider of shelter and supportive housing for homeless families in the city, Yang said it would be “extraordinarily helpful” for the city to have shelters specifically for victims of domestic violence. The event was moderated by Spectrum NY1 reporter Courtney Gross who noted, “There are already a number of domestic violence shelters... They do already exist.”
Yang walked back his statements, his eyes darting to the right of his zoom screen, insisting he’d meant that there wasn’t enough capacity at such facilities.
“There are. Oh no, I, of course they do exist, so that’s one aspect of something we should be increasing capacity of,” he said, pivoting to talk about the need for more beds in psychiatric facilities. “There are a lot of things we should be increasing capacity of.”
As of last year, the city had 2,500 emergency beds for survivors of domestic violence and about 800 families are housed in the system on any given day, according to city figures.
Yang sat down with Gothamist / WNYC shortly after that press conference in Brooklyn Thursday and said running for mayor “has been a blast” and he’s learned so much about New York City in the process. He said his campaign has put out over 80 pages of policy that present a clear vision for the city but, he stressed, he doesn’t think people in government have all the answers.
“My goal as mayor will be to take the work that oftentimes others are doing and then augment it and amplify it. I'm not someone who thinks the government is going to have all of the answers or even most of the answers,” Yang explained. “I feel like oftentimes, especially in a place like New York, they'll be some nonprofit organization or activist group that is tackling it and has been working on it for years that you can build on and learn from.”
Yang actually passed the buck when asked and stumped on what his favorite Jay Z song was.
i asked new york mayoral candidate andrew yang what his favorite jay z song is pic.twitter.com/UV8tQJXta1— ziwe (@ziwe) May 22, 2021
To paraphrase legendary Queensbridge rapper MC Shan, Yang needs to "kill that noise" with his campaign.
Residents of Ozone Park and Howard Beach tend to be familiar with one of the area’s most conspicuous oddities, the greaser on the clock.
Hoisted up on an office building along Cross Bay Boulevard, a statue of a ’50s greaser clad in blue jeans — hands thrust into the pockets of a black leather jacket — leans back on the brick facade of a law office at 109th Avenue.
What they might not know is that the figure was put there by George Schneider, the longstanding member of the business community in charge of Schneider Real Estate.
Schneider died on May 2 at 87 years old. He is survived by his wife, Mary Ann, his daughters Linda Schneider Bancalari and Debbie Ann Schneider, stepson Raymond Simpson and seven grandchildren.
The real estate entrepreneur was born and raised in Richmond Hill and lived in Howard Beach and Ozone Park for most of his adult life, before moving to Long Island in his old age. He began his Ozone Park-based business in 1955.
Schneider Real Estate turned into a recognizable name in South Queens, and even extended into a mini-business empire in the neighborhood. Its original quarters were located around 107th and Cross Bay Boulevard, where Schneider had set up a number of different businesses in his namesake: Schneider Travel and Schneider Insurance, in addition to a building that morphed over time from ice cream stand to consignment store among other businesses.
His daughter Debbie Ann Schneider still lives in a Schneider Real Estate home that she inherited from her dad.
“The people that are on my block, they’re like, ‘Your dad sold this one to that person and that one to this other person.’ But everybody comes back to the man on the building,” she said, referring to the greaser statue.
Next to Schneider Insurance, Debbie Ann said that her father used to put out dune buggies and hot rod cars to attract attention.
For the real estate company he wanted to get a statue of a burglar. “Like a robber — stealing — like we’ll steal a house for you, it’ll be so cheap,” Debbie Ann said. But when he couldn’t find a statue of a cat burglar, he went with another symbol of a lawless antihero: a member of the greaser gang subculture that gained prominence in the ’50s.
Many call it the James Dean statue, after the “Rebel Without a Cause” star.
“His main objective was so that people would stop and look at it, you know? And it worked,” Debbie Ann said.
Thursday, May 20, 2021
|Stencil on building wall by Crosby St..Soho (JQ)|
The City Planning Commission on Tuesday announced the start of the public review for the Soho/Noho rezoning. The plan was officially certified, kicking off the city’s land-use review process, known as ULURP.
Village Preservation, the largest neighborhood preservation organization in New York City and largest membership organization in Greenwich Village, the East Village and Noho, promptly issued a defiant statement in response. Its director, Andrew Berman, blasted the rezoning as “a massive giveaway” to developers salivating to strike it rich in their coveted holy grail — the world-renowned, cachet-laden Downtown enclaves of Soho and Noho.
According to the city, the scheme, which it calls the Soho/Noho Neighborhood Plan, would allow as many as 3,500 new homes to be created, 900 of which would be permanently affordable under the city’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) program.
Outside of the Soho and Noho historic districts and along Canal St. and the Bowery, the plan calls for “Opportunity Areas” that would allow increased density and a maximum height of 275 feet, “which is appropriate to the existing context,” according to City Planning.
The proposed changes would cover an area generally bounded by Canal St. to the south, Houston St. and Astor Place to the north, Lafayette St. and the Bowery to the east, and Sixth Ave. and West Broadway to the west. The area’s unique zoning dates to the early 1970s, when vacant manufacturing buildings were repurposed by artists. About 85 percent of the proposed rezoning area is landmarked due to being included in historic districts.
“Every New Yorker should have the opportunity to live in transit-rich, amenity-filled neighborhoods like Soho and Noho,” said Marisa Lago, the chairperson of the City Planning Commission. “Built on years of community engagement, this proposal was crafted with a lens focused on fair housing, an equitable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, reinforcing Soho/Noho as a regional hub for jobs and commerce, and preserving and augmenting the arts. Through permanently affordable housing requirements and support for the arts, this plan is a giant step forward toward a more equitable and even livelier New York City.”
Under ULURP, Community Board 2 now has 60 days to review the proposal, after which it will go to Borough President Gale Brewer for her consideration, then back to the City Planning Commission and ultimately to the City Council for a binding vote. The process typically can take around seven months, which would just barely get under the wire before de Blasio is forced out of City Hall due to term limits.
But despite the city’s lofty rhetoric, preservationist Berman said the Soho/Noho rezoning is, at heart, a transparent payback for the mayor’s deep-pocketed developer pals.
“In the dying days of the de Blasio administration, the mayor is indulging in an orgy of payback to the special interests who donated generously to his campaign and his legally suspect, ethically tarred, now-defunct Campaign for One New York,” Berman said. “High up on that list is a massive giveaway of real estate development rights in Soho, Noho and Chinatown to his generous donors, like Edison Properties, which will enable them to build enormous office buildings, big-box chain retail stores, and super-luxury condos where current rules prohibit them from doing so.
“Wrapped in a false veneer of affordable housing and social-justice equity,” Berman said, “de Blasio’s Soho/Noho proposal is a fire-sale giveaway of enormously valuable real estate that will destroy hundreds of units of existing affordable housing and create few if any new ones; displace hundreds of lower-income residents and residents of color; make these neighborhoods richer, more expensive and less diverse than they are now; and destroy locally and nationally recognized historic neighborhoods while pushing out the remaining independent small businesses with a flood of big-box chain retail. It’s a classic de Blasio bait and switch, and one has to wonder, after seven-and-a-half years of seeing this mayor in action, who is naive or desperate enough to not see it for what it is?”
Village Preservation recently released a study that analyzed the de Blasio plan and found that, in every case where the city predicted affordable housing would be included in new development, the plan actually makes it more lucrative to build without the affordable housing, and to utilize the many loopholes in the plan for avoiding affordable housing requirements. Specifically, commercial, retail and community-facility space, as well as market-rate residential space of no more than 25,000 square feet per zoning lot are all exempted from affordable housing requirements. Thus, according to Village Preservation, the chances of any affordable housing being generated by the plan are exceedingly small.
The group’s study also found that the Soho/Noho plan only accounts for about 37 percent of the 10.3 million square feet of new development potential it would create (nearly four Empire State Buildings’ worth), thus “hiding millions of square feet of additional development likely to take place that will almost undoubtedly take the form of luxury condos, big-box chain retail, and high-end commercial office space with no affordable housing.”
Earlier this month, the Soho Alliance, Broadway Residents Coalition and individual plaintiffs filed a lawsuit to block the rezoning plan’s certification, but the city, at the last minute, delayed the certification. As a result, state Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron ruled that he could not issue an injunction yet. He set a return court date of June 3, likely figuring the city would have certified the plan before then.
Last Friday and this Monday, the plaintiffs returned to court to try to block the certification once again and the judge denied them again. But that does not mean, as has been incorrectly reported by some media outlets, that the lawsuit was tossed out of court, noted Sean Sweeney, the director of the Soho Alliance. Sweeney paraphrased their attorney, who related Engoron’s latest response:
“The judge said, ‘Look, I’ll give a T.R.O. [temporary restraining order] if the bulldozers are coming in to destroy a building. But I’m not going to give an emergency T.R.O. for a process [ULURP] that will last seventh months.”
Engoron, however, said that the issue of an emergency T.R.O. would be discussed during the return court date of June 3.
The lawsuit argues that public in-person meetings, not Zoom virtual meetings, are required under ULURP and also that the city did not make sufficient information about the plan available to Community Board 2 the required 30 days before the certification.
According to Sweeney, C.B. 2 was only sent a couple of sentences notifying the board that the certification was planned. That’s insufficient under a referendum to the City Charter that voters approved in 2019, he noted. Meanwhile, the Soho/Noho rezoning plan is a massive document.
“One appendix [for the rezoning] has 13,000 pages, so how can the community board, let alone the public, review a long, long attachment?” the Soho activist asked, incredulously.
Juan Ardila, a challenge in the Democratic primary race for the 30th Council District seat in Queens, is claiming that incumbent Robert Holden plans to pull the same trick he used to win in 2017: running on the Republican line as a Democrat for the November election, thanks to an old state law in the books.
Ardila says that the current Democratic council member will once again be placed on the Republican line for a second term should he lose the June 22nd primary. He claims that the Republicans in the district are coalescing around Holden because he's the best shot in representing their interests.
“There's no other Republican that has nearly enough name recognition or the support that he has," Ardila said of Holden.
While it might seem implausible for a longtime Democrat to run on the GOP line, this is actually how Holden won his seat back in 2017. That year, Holden lost the Democratic primary to then-incumbent Council Member Elizabeth Crowley, but then ran as a Republican during the November general election, where he defeated Crowley for the Council seat by 137 votes. Holden, at the time, said he’d “be stupid not to” get on the Republican line to win.
Ardila’s team believes Holden will pull the same stunt through the Wilson-Pakula Law. The obscure state provision allows a party to place a non-party member on the ballot so long as they file the correct paperwork. In the case for the 30th Council District, the Queens Republican Party will play that card and place Holden on their line, Ardila contends.
Holden and Ardila are the only ones on the Democratic primary ticket. And their line of endorsements underscores their brand of politics. Ardila, a progressive Democrat, has been endorsed by 1199 SEIU, and state senators Jessica Ramos and Michael Gianaris. Holden has received backing from a handful of Democratic legislators, he’s also garnered support from police unions, including the Police Benevolent Association. The PBA made its politics known last year when the group endorsed Trump for his failed re-election bid.
Joann Ariola—the head of the Queens Republican Party, who Holden backed during her unsuccessful bid for Queens borough president—confirmed Spataro is running as a Republican. “He is our candidate," she said, "so I'm not quite sure what Mr. Ardila is talking about."
"I think that Mr. Ardila should pay more attention to his own primary, rather than what the Republicans are doing,” Ariola said. “He's running against a very popular Councilman, who I think can win this seat on the Democratic line outright. [He] wouldn’t need a Republican safety net."
Kevin Ryan, a campaign spokesman, denied such collusion would take place.
“There’s no need for the Councilman, a lifelong Democrat, to consider a contingency plan for losing a primary that he’s going to win,” Ryan said. “He’s been a Democrat twice as long as his challenger has been alive.”
Wednesday, May 19, 2021
The historic Neir’s Tavern in Woodhaven is getting a much-needed cash infusion to help it stay afloat as the city begins its post-COVID reopening.
The 191-year-old bar and grill, one of the oldest establishments in the five boroughs, is one of 25 historic and culturally significant restaurants across the United States to be recognized with a $40,000 grant from American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
“Neir’s Tavern is so grateful to be included as an American Express and National Trust for Historic Preservation grant recipient,” Neir’s Tavern owner Loycent Gordon said. “As the oldest establishment on the list, we appreciate that these organizations are spotlighting the need to preserve historic small businesses across the country.”
Established in 1829, Neir’s Tavern survived the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, two world wars and the Great Depression, but nearly went out of business in 2020 until the de Blasio administration helped broker a new deal to keep the doors open. The COVID-19 pandemic created new challenges for the establishment as it draws closer to its bicentennial.
“As we struggle to survive our second pandemic, this grant will ensure that Neir’s Tavern’s outdoor area is not only maintained but enhanced,” Gordon said.
The “Backing Historic Small Restaurants” funding will help each of the 25 historic establishments enhance restaurant exteriors, build new outdoor seating areas, and upgrade online businesses to help mitigate operating costs as they work to recover from the pandemic.
“Historic small restaurants are cultural treasures that strengthen their communities and carry their legacies and traditions forward in deeply meaningful ways,” National Trust Chief Preservations Officer Katherine Malone-France said. “These restaurants have demonstrated their resiliency for decades, and even while dealing with the financial impacts of the pandemic, they have continued to support their communities in many ways.”
@NYCMayor has accused the @MTA of running protection for Cuomo's scandals because of pointing out the rise in crime on the subway and their concern for the safety of commuters and transit workers— This machine kills fauxgressives (@Lowlifecrusher) May 18, 2021
He also called them stupid and chided them for not whitewashing the crime stats pic.twitter.com/UYEQZOmsMT