Sunday, October 31, 2021

Happy Halloween from transportation totalitarian


de Blasio's vaccine mandate heads into the fire


Daily Mail

A total of 26 New York firehouses have been forced to close after firefighters refused to get vaccinated ahead of Mayor Bill de Blasio's Monday deadline - and a seven-year-old boy died the following day as departments saw major staff shortages. 

The Uniformed Firefighters Association revealed a list of FDNY stations that 'have close due to no manpower' and it includes six in Manhattan, nine in Brooklyn, three in Queens, four in the Bronx and four in Staten Island.

On Friday FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro warned that the effects of the closures could be catastrophic and 'endanger the lives' of city residents.

 A day later Robert Resto, 7, was killed and his 54-year-old grandmother were seriously hurt after a deadly blaze engulfed their Washington Heights home around 1.30am Saturday. 

Although an FDNY spokesman told the FDNY that the firefighters' response time was not impacted by the 10,951 firefighters who have yet to get vaccinated, just yesterday firefighters were reportedly calling out sick to avoid unpaid leave. 

'Is there a sickout?' Not to my knowledge no,' Andrew Ansbro of the Uniformed Firefighters Association said.

The grandmother was rushed to Jacobi Medical Center in serious condition. 

Neighbors remembered the young boy as 'sweet (and) joyful,' adding that he was 'always reading, holding the door, smiling,' according to the New York Post.

FDNY officials said the apartment started in the back of the house's basement - located at 660 West 178th Street - and spread to the first floor.

Three other people inside the house - including one firefighter and the boy's father, according to a GoFundMe page - also suffered minor injuries and were taken to New York Presbyterian-Columbia Hospital. 

All municipal workers have been ordered to show proof of at least one dose of the vaccine by 5pm Friday or risk being placed on unpaid leave come Monday. 

And despite 26 stations being shuddered today, the FDNY has said it is not closing any firehouses for good.

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Vaccinated Danny Dromm calls firefighters and E.M.T.'s cowards

Walk on the wild side in the world's borough

Friday, October 29, 2021

Transportation Totalitarians trying to annex another street for bike boulevard


Extreme non-compliance


 PIX 11 News

With just one day left before they’re required to show proof of vaccination or lose their livelihoods, firefighters union members gathered outside of Gracie Mansion to protest.

While the mansion is the official home of Mayor Bill de Blasio, he wasn’t there during the mid-morning protest against his COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Instead, he was at City Hall trying to assure the city that it’s ready for potential problems that may arise if fire and police ranks are slashed by some 20%, as forecasted, due to vaccine non-compliance.

Andrew Ansbro, the president of UFA, the firefighters union, predicted that the situation will not be pretty if de Blasio doesn’t negotiate a testing option for his members.

“There’s gonna be a crisis in this city,” Ansbro said.

By Friday at 5 p.m., all municipal workers — including firefighters, police officers, EMTs, sanitation workers and others —have to show proof of vaccination, or be placed on unpaid leave starting Nov. 1.

The hundreds of protesters outside of the home where the mayor and his family live said that they’re not against COVID-19 vaccines, even though many people present indicated that they’re not going to be permitted to work on Monday, under the mandate. Instead, they said, they’re against the city requiring them to be vaccinated.

They also said that they resent that the mandate deadline did not provide much time for them to consider whether or not to get a shot. It was announced last week, 10 months after vaccines first became available for emergency use.

Jackie Martinez, the president of the United Women Firefighters affinity group, vocalized her concerns.

“Nine days is not enough time,” she said from a podium set up outside of Gracie Mansion, “for people who have mortgages, who have families, who have sick children to make a life-changing decision.”

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Kew Gardens hotel New Year's Day murder suspect caught



A Bronx teenager was indicted by a Queens grand jury for murder and related charges in the New Year’s Eve fatal shooting of a Rosedale man, and wounding two other victims, outside the Umbrella Hotel in Kew Gardens, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.

Richard Swygert, 19, was arraigned Monday before Queens Supreme Court Justice Ushir Pandit-Durant on a seven-count indictment charging him with murder, two counts of attempted murder, assault and possession of a weapon in what was the first murder in the city of 2021.

The fatal shooting outraged the Kew Gardens community who demanded the hotel’s closure claiming the Umbrella had been a hotbed of criminal activities, including prostitution, drug dealing and human trafficking. Mayor Bill de Blasio on Jan. 5 said he would move to shut down the hotel that had also received over a dozen violations last year.

According to the charges, Swygert allegedly pulled out a gun after a disagreement between two groups of revelers celebrating New Year’s Eve at the now-shuttered Umbrella Hotel on 82nd Avenue and Queens Boulevard.

At around 1 a.m. on the morning of Jan.1, Swygert allegedly shot 20-year-old Robert Williams, a standout athlete who was just one day shy of his 21st birthday, and two other men. Williams died at the scene and the other two victims were taken to area hospitals for medical treatment.

“The defendant’s alleged actions led to the first homicide in New York City this year,” Katz said. “Senseless shootings have brought grief and heartache to far too many families in our neighborhoods. My office will continue to work with our law enforcement and community partners to stop the proliferation of guns in Queens and to hold accountable perpetrators of gun violence.”

Caption the muzzled mayor

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Governor Kathy shuts off the gas

NY Post

Siding with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the environmental left, Gov. Kathy Hochul on Wednesday killed two proposed natural gas-powered projects in Queens and upstate Newburgh.

State Department of Environmental Commissioner Basil Seggos said both proposals failed to comply with the state’s “Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act” to reduce carbon emissions.

Power company NRG said the project would retrofit its 50-year-old natural gas-burning plant near the Robert Kennedy/Triborough Bridge and claimed it would cut polluting carbon emissions.

The Astoria plant is called a “peaker” facility because it provides needed additional power to the electric grid during peak usage, such as during summer heat waves when millions of New Yorkers blast their air conditioners.

“Our review determined the proposed project does not demonstrate compliance with the requirements of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. The proposed project would be inconsistent with or would interfere with the statewide greenhouse gas emissions limits established in the Climate Act,” Seggos said in a statement denying the permit.

“Astoria NRG failed to demonstrate the need or justification for the proposed project notwithstanding this inconsistency.”

Seggos rejected the Danskammer Energy Center’s proposed natural-gas powered project in Newburgh on identicial grounds.

Hochul hailed the action taken by her environmental agency.

“I applaud the Department of Environmental Conservation’s decisions to deny the Title V Permits for the Danskammer Energy Center and Astoria Gas Turbine Power, LLC in the context of our state’s clean energy transition. Climate change is the greatest challenge of our time, and we owe it to future generations to meet our nation-leading climate and emissions reduction goals,” the governor said in a statement.

The proposed project is in the district of Ocasio-Cortez and state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Queens) — opponents of the project .

Ocasio-Cortez, a proponent of the Green New Deal to phase out carbon-spewing fossil fuels, rallied against the Astoria power plant, which would burn natural gas produced by fracking, during an Earth Day celebration in April.

“We’re not going to allow our water to be compromised. We’re not going to allow our air to be compromised,” the congresswoman said.

NRG, in a statement, called Hochul’s decision a mistake, saying there are “not enough renewable resources” to “keep the lights on in New York City today.”

“It’s unfortunate that New York is turning down an opportunity to dramatically reduce pollution and strengthen reliable power for millions of New Yorkers at such a critical time,” said Tom Atkins, NRG’s vice president of development.

“NRG’s Astoria Replacement Project would have provided immediate reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and would have been fully convertible to green hydrogen in the future.

Letitia James is running for governor, so is that fool public advocate 

NY Post

 State Attorney General Letitia James — whose bombshell sexual harassment report led to the resignation of ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo — will announce that she’s challenging incumbent Gov. Kathy Hochul in the 2022 Democratic primary, The Post has learned.

James called a union leader Wednesday notifying the official she plans to announce her campaign “shortly,” according to a source.

Kimberly Peeler-Allen, senior advisor for James’ campaign put out a statement Wednesday that said: “Attorney General Letitia James has made a decision regarding the governor’s race. She will be announcing it in the coming days.”

“I hear she’s making calls. She made a call to me for money last week,” a second source familiar with James’ thinking told The Post. 

“She did not want to say that she’s running for governor — even though we understood each other,” said the source, noting James wryly added: “You know what I’m up to.”


New York City Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams has filed the necessary paperwork with the New York Board of Elections in order to run for governor, the Times Union reported.

Williams, a progressive Democrat, is the second to file for governor, after Governor Kathy Hochul. The Democrat primary is scheduled for June 2022. Other potential candidates include Attorney General Letitia James.

Williams had previously indicated he would run for governor in September, when he began an exploratory committee. He formed a campaign committee on October 18.

Curtis Sliwa and Eric Adams talking vaccine mandates and fixing de Blasio's two terms of mayoral incompetence

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Assembly member Cruz demands suppression of Council member Holden's Facebook rebuttal

NY Daily News

City Councilman Bob Holden has filed an ethics complaint against Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz over an expletive-laden tirade she allegedly phoned into his office after a City Council hearing two weeks ago.

The battle royale between the two Queens pols began during a Council committee hearing focused on health care in which Cruz criticized private hospitals by saying they “allegedly” save lives.

 “These corporations that we call hospitals have chosen to make money out of health care, have chosen to make money out of allegedly saving lives,” Cruz said at the time. “And yes, they’re saving the lives, but I say ‘allegedly’ because when you get a $200,000 bill that you have to pay, or when you have to choose between a world-renowned doctor at one hospital versus a decent doctor at another one, you’re playing with your health care. You’re playing with your life.”

Holden and David Rich, an executive director at the Greater New York Hospital Association, both pushed back on Cruz’s remarks during the hearing, which was held over Zoom, but the difference of opinion then escalated on social media and during a phone call Cruz made to Holden’s office after the hearing.

According to Holden’s chief of staff, Daniel Kurzyna, the assemblywoman called to chew his boss out over a Facebook post he made about the hearing, but since Holden wasn’t available, Kurzyna fielded the call.

“He better take it [the Facebook post] down in five minutes, or it’s a f---ing war,” Cruz said, according to a memo from Kurzyna obtained by the Daily News. “If he wants f---ing war, I’ll give him war.”

Immediately after the call, Kurzyna said he drafted the memo to Holden while the exchange was still fresh in his head.

In it, he wrote that he “attempted to interject” to tell her that “her tone and use of expletives was unnecessary,” but that she told him to “be quiet; it’s my time to speak.”

“She then continued on the tirade, saying that she would put you ‘on blast’ and that she ‘can make it about race… about it being a woman,’” he continued. “The assembly member insinuated she would use her race and gender as a way to blackmail you and pressure you to take down the social media post.”

Man who held up cellphone store that led to detective's death by his fellow cops gets 33 years in prison

Christopher Ransom enters the courtroom during a hearing in Queens Supreme Court on Wednesday, Oct. 20, in New York.

NY Daily News 

The man who sparked a friendly-fire NYPD shooting that killed a Queens detective pleaded guilty to manslaughter Wednesday as part of a deal with prosecutors that will likely put him away for 33 years.

Standing sheepishly in a rumpled dark grey suit in a courtroom fielded with detectives uniformed officers, Christopher Ransom, 30, quietly admitted to causing the Feb 12, 2019, death of Detective Brian Simonsen.

He’s expected to serve 33 years in prison when he is sentenced next month: 20 for aggravated manslaughter and 13 for robbery, prosecutors said.

The expected sentence is part of a plea arrangement between Queens prosecutors and Ransom’s attorneys at the Legal Aid Society.

“The defendant set in motion a terrible chain of events that began with a robbery and ended in a spray of bullets when Ransom pointed what appeared to be a deadly firearm toward police officers,” Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said in a statement. “(He) was repeatedly told to lower his weapon, but did not do so. The heartbreaking result was the loss of Detective Simonsen’s life and Sergeant Matthew Gorman being shot in the leg.”

Katz said she hopes the conviction brings Simonsen’s family “a measure of closure.”

Simonsen’s widow Leanne was in the courtroom for the plea. She did not speak to reporters.

“The acts of Christopher Ransom caused the death of Detective Brian Simonsen,” Paul DiGiacomo, the president of the Detectives Endowment Association said outside court. “We lost a dedicated, hero detective. It’s something we all will have to live with for the rest of our lives.”

Ransom and his accomplice, Jagger Freeman, 27, were allegedly holding up a T-Mobile store on 120th St. near Atlantic Ave. in Richmond Hill with a fake gun when cops investigating a spree of cell phone store robberies surrounded the location.

Ransom and his accomplice, Jagger Freeman, were allegedly holding up a T-Mobile store on 120th St. near Atlantic Ave. in Richmond Hill with a fake gun when cops investigating a spree of cell phone store robberies surrounded the location on Tuesday, February 12, 2018.


Monday, October 25, 2021

City workers against vaccism


Eyewitness News 

 New York City municipal employees marched across the Brooklyn Bridge against the COVID vaccine mandate.

The protest was set to end in front of City Hall on the Manhattan side of the bridge and was billed as an anti-mandate protest on behalf of nearly 50,000 NYC employees who have yet to be vaccinated.

Mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa was at the protest and said he is opposed to the mandates.

"I think especially these draconian measures that all civil servants have to be vaccinated or they get fired, we already don't have enough cops, we don't have enough correction officers, we don't have enough health care workers, we don't have enough teachers," Sliwa told Eyewitness News. "So, who's getting hurt by all of us, obviously, students, citizens, people who need services. Stop this nonsense, and the mandate."

Sliwa said the workers should be encouraged to be vaccinated, but if they can't or won't, weekly testing should be allowed.

Monday's demonstration follows a protest Sunday night at the Barclay's Center in support of Kyrie Irving.

FDNY raids congregate propane tank shelter 

NY Daily News

One person was arrested after a business in Queens was caught storing hundreds of propane tanks illegally Thursday — just two years after FDNY inspectors found a massive stash of tanks in the same building, authorities said.

Inspectors with the FDNY’s Bureau of Fire Prevention found the tanks inside a business at 127-76 Willets Point Blvd., not far from Citi Field, during a routine check Thursday morning, FDNY officials said.

The address houses several auto repair shops and a welding and propane supply business.

Inside, the inspectors found about 500 canisters, “well beyond the location’s permitted storage capacity,” an FDNY source said.

An FDNY spokesman said the business owner was charged with reckless endangerment and issued a desk appearance ticket. However, the spokesman could not identify the person charged.

A Buildings Department inspector issued two violations, buildings department records show. Details of the violations were not available Thursday. The FDNY also issued violations, a department spokesman said.

Got a feeling this guy was in a bind after The Blaz decided to ban propane heating for restaurant shanties.


School buses continue to leave students and parents hanging

Leslianne Saavedra, 9, and her mother Monica Roman in the Bronx.

NY Daily News 

A “cataclysmic” failure of New York City school bus transportation has left scores of city kids without buses for days or weeks — and some desperate families still waiting for a pickup more than a month into the school year, parents and advocates say.

Years of dysfunction compounded by the logistical challenges of restarting in-person classes amid the pandemic and a nationwide driver shortage have pushed transportation conditions in the city to a record low, according to families and school bus watchdogs.

“The busing situation in this city is cataclysmic,” said Amaranta Viera, the mother of a first-grader with autism who was without a bus for nearly a month after classes started on Sept. 13.

Some students legally entitled to school buses because of disabilities still have not been assigned a route. Others have a route, but no driver, matron or paraprofessional to pick them up. And some kids whose buses do show up are facing erratic pickups or hours-long rides, according to experiences shared with The Daily News.

“The problems are boiling over this year with kids missing not just hours, but days and weeks of school,” said Sara Catalinotto, the head of the advocacy group Parents to Improve School Transportation.

DOE officials said there are roughly 550 students who still need bus routes, a slight increase over the approximately 500 kids without routes at this time in 2019 and 2018 but still a small fraction of the 150,000 total kids who take school buses. Officials claimed all kids who were registered by the first day of classes now have a route.

But advocates say the number and severity of complaints pouring in this year are noticeably greater than in years past.

Catalinotto said she heard from eight families just last week who still don’t have a school bus, and 15 since the beginning of the year, compared to zero and three such complaints in 2019 and 2018. Another parent advocate who began compiling bus grievances at the beginning of the year got 58 hits, with half complaining of a no-show bus. The city’s Panel for Education Policy solicited bus complaints from parents for a recent meeting and got roughly 60 emails in three days.

“Typically by now, the bus issues would die down a lot, but not this year,” said Lori Podvesker, the education director of the special education advocacy group INCLUDEnyc and a member of the Panel for Education Policy.

The DOE also pointed to a 63% reduction in the number of calls to the Office of Pupil Transportation hotline compared with fall 2019, from roughly 6,400 calls per day in 2019 to 2,400 calls per day this year.

But parents say calling the OPT’s hotline is a lesson in futility because they either can’t get through or are directed to contact their schools or bus companies — discouraging them from trying again.

Rent gouging developer behind latest luxury public housing tower in Jamaica

Zara Realty’s new housing complex 1

Queens Chronicle

Adjacent to Rufus King Park in Jamaica will be a new housing complex valued at $110 million, on which Zara Realty, a real estate firm that provides apartment units in Queens and Long Island, is expected to break ground very soon.

Ismael Leyva Architects and Monadnock Construction designed the project and are based in Manhattan and Brooklyn, respectively, according to the housing provider. The building will be energy efficient, have 223 units and a state-of-the-art HVAC system, nine stories and 218,000 square feet.

The apartment complex will be located at 153-10 88 Ave., a two-minute walk from the park, according to Google Maps.

The apartments will be studios to two-bedroom units with energy-saving appliances. Thirty percent will be affordable homes, while the remainder will be at market rate, according to Zara Realty.

The building will have a solar roof capable of producing 69 KW, a 169-space valet parking garage that has 10 electric vehicle chargers, a 1,272-square-foot fitness center, a 3,167-square-foot recreational space, a 5,449-square-foot roof terrace with gardens and seating areas and storage units.

There will also be a 6,480-square-foot community facility space on the ground floor.

“Manhattan has Central Park, Brooklyn has Prospect Park, and the beautiful and historically significant Rufus King Park is an absolute jewel for the people of Queens,” said Tony Subraj, co-managing partner for Zara Realty, in a statement. “Our company’s ethos centers on quality, well-located buildings that are a complementary part of the community. This has been a key part of Zara Realty’s success for the past four decades.”

Despite the company’s endeavors — it owns at least 2,500 rent-stabilized units in 45 buildings in Jamaica alone — it was hit with a civil suit in 2019 for allegedly charging thousands of low- and middle-income tenants with illegal fees and rents or requiring them to sell illegal leases, according to a 52-page complaint from Attorney General Tish James.

The real estate firm or affiliated entities have allegedly “spent years evading and circumventing rent stabilization laws in order to scam tenants out of thousands upon thousands of dollars,” said James.

Renters were allegedly asked to pay for keys, room reservations, advance rent and excessive security deposits that were three to four times the monthly rent, according to the complaint. Some tenants allegedly paid upwards of $11,000 simply to move into a rent-stabilized apartment.

Zara did cooperate with the Tenant Protection Unit and the Division of Housing and Community Renewal to resolve any issues deemed “potentially unlawful involving rent regulation” but said that some allegations made in a civil suit were “inaccurate.” It also lost a bid to dismiss the lawsuit in 2020, according to the, a real estate news outlet.

Better know your district candidates: The fighting 22nd

 Pedal to the metal in the 22nd District 1

 Queens Chronicle

 Unlike most of their incoming freshmen peers, the winner of the election in the 22nd Council District will not have nearly two months to get set.

The district has not had a representative since April when Costa Constantinides resigned. The winner will be expected to take office shortly after Nov. 2.

Former public defender Tiffany Cabán is running for the Democrats, with Felicia Kalan running for the Republicans. Also on the ballot is Edwin DeJesus of the Green Party.

The district covers Astoria, Rikers Island and parts of Jackson Heights, Woodside and East Elmhurst.

Cabán told the Chronicle that the last two weeks of the campaign will be largely unchanged.

“We’re staying the course in that our goal has always been the same,” she said. “Elections are a vehicle for organizing, engaging community members. We’re meeting people where they’re at.”

She said they remain open to adjustments, such as in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Ida, where they took voter outreach along a different path.

“We started doing wellness checks, knocking on people’s doors, sending them texts,” Cabán said. “We were helping them fill out paperwork with the city comptroller and FEMA applications.

“We’re sticking with a campaign model that has been successful.”

Looking forward, Cabán acknowledged that things she wants to accomplish will be expensive, and that the city is facing large budgetary constraints, with projected deficits of about $5 billion over each of the next three years.

“One, while it’s a limited budget, it’s a really big one,” she said. “We’re coming with the most progressive City Council ever. A lot of people are running on budget justice.”

She said it is a matter of prioritizing the money that is available.

“On the city or federal level, you have the budget for police or the military, but we say we don’t have the money to expand people’s healthcare options,” she said.

“This is really about political will.”

Cabán also said investments in healthcare, combating homelessness, substance abuse and violence prevention programs will save money.

“You will have tremendous downstream savings,” she said.

Cabán expects Eric Adams to win the mayoralty, and said she was not given to pause when Adams, in the Democratic primary, thrashed opponents more politically aligned with her.

“Not at all,” she said. “I don’t think it’s a surprise that there are things Eric Adams and I disagree on. Where I think people might be surprised is the things that we agree on.”

She cited bike and bus lanes and crisis intervention personnel as examples.

“I was a public defender,” Cabán said. “I tell people no job prepared me more for politics. I had a client, a constituent, and was facing someone, a prosecutor, literally on the other side of the aisle.”

She said the same skills of reaching across that aisle, building up trust and respect, will work in the Council.

Kalan also said things are going well in the homestretch. And she is not daunted by talk that Cabán is the favorite.

“We’re getting great feedback from the community, both from Republicans and Democrats,” she said. “This is an election that is going to transcend political parties. It’s really about the best person for the job.”

She said there has been traditional door-knocking and phone banks — in English, Spanish and Greek.

Like her Democratic opponent, Kalan said there is a need to secure the district’s priorities within existing fiscal means.

“We have a $98 billion budget,” Kalan said. “If you’ve seen what’s happened to that money, ThriveNYC for example,” she said, citing the highly controversial multibillon-dollar mental health initiative run by first lady Chirlane McCray. “That money hasn’t been well-accounted for and has not been well used. With a $98 billion budget, we need to work within the existing budget to address these issues. That hasn’t been done. There hasn’t been accountability for the programs that are already out there. I think with $98 billion, we can address that issue.”

While she would be one of very few Republicans on the Council, Kalan, a mother of two children, said she should have no trouble finding common ground with many across the aisle, including, if he wins, Adams.

“Eric Adams is someone who cares about public safety,” she said. “We can work very well together. If he is elected mayor, I have no concerns about being able to deliver what I want for my district. Republicans have been able to do that.”

On one of her signature proposals — ending mayoral control of schools and adding regional school boards, Kalan believes it would not put an end to the ability to hold people accountable for the Department of Education’s results.

She believes, unlike appointed boards of the past, members of new governing bodies can be elected, possibly along Council district lines.

She said with the race being for a two-year term because of Census redistricting, that she is better suited as a resident and parent to represent the needs of the concerns of the community.

DeJesus also said he and his volunteers are not going to be changing up.

“I’ve been talking to the voters on the street every day, in businesses and restaurants, in the subway,” he said. “We recently sponsored a breast cancer awareness event in Astoria Park.”

And he said in a recent telephone interview that he is not a fringe candidate or a spoiler.

“Everyone should vote their conscience,” DeJesus said. “The spoiler tag is a myth perpetuated by the ruling class that wants to maintain the status quo. The idea that third-party candidates are not viable is an illusion. And the more people vote for them the more viable they become. People should vote their consciences — especially if they want anything to change.”

He cited, as an example, the idea that Green Party issues are regularly co-opted by the Democrats.

“What Democrats do is take things the Green Party wrote and water it down with all their corporate interests,” he said. “Take the Green New Deal for example. Their proposal contains half the jobs that it did when the Greens wrote it in 2006. If climate change is existential to them, why are they taking so long to do something about it?”

He said the same is true of Medicare for All.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

City gives billions to AOC led energy resetting

 NY Post

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal agenda is now governing the future of city pension funds, Mayor Bill de Blasio and city Comptroller Scott Stringer announced Thursday.

Self-described socialist AOC was on hand at City Hall Thursday as the city politicians, each with less than three months left in office, pushed $8 billion in investments to her Green New Deal agenda — detailing their commitment of the Big Apple’s pension investments to climate-friendly companies.

The $8 billion through 2025 amounts to a down payment toward a previously stated commitment by de Blasio for $50 billion in pensions funds invested in green-minded companies.

“I want to give credit where credit is due. It took vision and it took an incredible sense of what is possible and how to push the spectrum and reset our imaginations and we got that from a great leader,” de Blasio said during his daily press briefing, before introducing AOC, who joined Hizzoner on the dais amid negotiations on President Biden’s spending bill.

“Thank you so much for changing people’s minds, and resetting the entire sense of the possible with the Green New Deal. It is extraordinary,” the far-left Bronx-Queens Democrat said.

Taxi to the dark side


Mother Jones

On Wednesday, taxi drivers, local elected officials, and their allies gathered outside New York City Hall to announce the beginning of a hunger strike. They are protesting a plan announced last month by the de Blasio administration to help taxi drivers reduce their debt burdens—a plan that the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, the 21,000-member group leading the hunger strike, considers insultingly inadequate.

As a Pulitzer Prize–winning New York Times investigation established in 2019, lenders, medallion brokers, and city officials spent years taking advantage of a scheme to inflate the prices of the taxi medallions that let New York City drivers operate cabs. The victims were the mostly immigrant cab drivers now left with hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt. There have been three suicides by owner-drivers in recent years.

I spoke with two of the roughly dozen hunger strikers a few minutes after they stopped eating. Zohran Mamdani, who came to New York from Kampala, Uganda, at age seven, wore two pins on his lapel: the red rose of socialism and another reserved for members of the New York state assembly. He has represented a northwest Queens district since January. 

At 63, Richard Chow is more than 30 years Mamdani’s senior. After moving to New York in 1987, he bought his taxi medallion for $410,000 in 2006. He still owes almost all of that money because of interest payments and the need to take out further loans to buy new cabs. His brother, Kenny, bought his medallion for more than $750,000 in 2011. Crippled by debt, he died by suicide in 2018.

On Wednesday, taxi drivers, local elected officials, and their allies gathered outside New York City Hall to announce the beginning of a hunger strike. They are protesting a plan announced last month by the de Blasio administration to help taxi drivers reduce their debt burdens—a plan that the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, the 21,000-member group leading the hunger strike, considers insultingly inadequate.

As a Pulitzer Prize–winning New York Times investigation established in 2019, lenders, medallion brokers, and city officials spent years taking advantage of a scheme to inflate the prices of the taxi medallions that let New York City drivers operate cabs. The victims were the mostly immigrant cab drivers now left with hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt. There have been three suicides by owner-drivers in recent years.

I spoke with two of the roughly dozen hunger strikers a few minutes after they stopped eating. Zohran Mamdani, who came to New York from Kampala, Uganda, at age seven, wore two pins on his lapel: the red rose of socialism and another reserved for members of the New York state assembly. He has represented a northwest Queens district since January.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

The Blaz's Knuckle Standard school reopenings

Cardozo fight

 NY Post

They’re reading, writing, and roughhousing at a highly regarded Queens high school — according to more than a dozen videos of students brawling in hallways, the cafeteria and outside, insiders confirmed.

The 14 clips of wild fistfights at or near Benjamin Cardozo High School on 223rd Street feature both girls and boys. Crowds of noisy classmates surround the combatants, egging them on.

“Fight! Fight!” a boy is heard shouting as two girls face off, before finally swinging at each other in a frenzy.

In one fight close to the nearby playground of PS 213, video shows a teen thrown to the ground, trying to shield his head from further kicks and blows.

Footage in front of shops on Springfield Avenue near Horace Harding Expressway shows a boy knocked flat onto his back, motionless.

Fight videos were taken down from the Instagram account @cardozohighschoolfights after The Post asked the NYPD about them. Two showing fights that happened off-site remain online, including one warning of “graphic or violent content.” 

“We are actively looking into the incidents,” said NYPD spokeswoman Sgt. Jessica McRorie, citing five complaints of violence in or near Cardozo since Sept. 13, when classes began.

In one case, a student menaced another kid with a Taser, though no arrests were made, she added.

In most cases, the fights were “handled administratively,” a source with knowledge of the videos told The Post, referring to school officials.


Melinda Katz and Mike Gianaris making a go for State A.G. 


Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez is weighing a statewide campaign for attorney general if Letitia James leaves the seat to run for governor, eight people familiar with the matter told THE CITY.

In recent weeks, they say, Gonzalez has been making calls to his top supporters and elected officials to float a possible campaign in the 2022 race.

“He’s looking to run. He’s fishing around,” said a close ally of Gonzalez who has helped him raise campaign cash in the past.

Also sniffing out support are Queens DA Melinda Katz and state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Queens), according to sources familiar with their activities.

Gonzalez served for years as a prosecutor in the Brooklyn DA’s office before ascending to the top job in 2016 following the death of his predecessor, Ken Thompson. The following year, Gonzalez became the first Latino to be elected as a district attorney in New York.

 Meanwhile, Katz, who secured the Democratic primary win for Queens DA in 2019 by just 60 votes when she was borough president, is also considering a run for the statewide office, according to four sources familiar with the matter.

One source close to Katz told THE CITY Thursday that “she’s certainly going to be ready to run” if James vacates her position to run for governor.

“Melinda is the candidate to run against the DSA and more in alignment with the mainstream Democratic voters,” said the source, referencing the Democratic Socialists of America who backed soon-to-be councilmember Tiffany Cabán in the Queens DA race.

Gianaris, who heads the Senate Democrats’ campaign efforts, is also contemplating an AG campaign, pending James’ decision, according to people close to him. The Senate’s deputy majority leader has amassed a $3 million warchest for past attorney general runs that didn’t materialize and in his state Senate campaign account.


Rikers Gulag

NY Post 

Dozens of men crammed together for days in temporary holding cells amid a pandemic. Filthy floors sullied with rotten food, maggots, urine, feces and blood. Plastic sheets for blankets, cardboard boxes for beds and bags that substituted for toilets. 

This is what the epicenter of the crisis on Rikers Island — which has a whopping $1.2 billion budget for fiscal year 2022 — looked like for months.

The Post obtained exclusive photos showing the intake cells at the Otis Bantum Correctional Center on Rikers Island between July and late September where hundreds of inmates languished for days or weeks on end in violation of city regulations, which require they be assigned a housing area within 24 hours.

The images show as many as 26 men stuffed body to body in single cells where they were forced to relieve themselves inside plastic bags and take turns sleeping on the fetid floors.

 In one image, an inmate is seen curled up on the floor — outside of the holding cell — because there was nowhere else to put him and when the facility was ready to burst, or when elected officials came to visit, detainees were stashed in a gym, Department of Correction sources said.  

“It was inhumane … They’re not supposed to be there that long, the intake is just a place to process the inmates,” a jailhouse source told The Post of the conditions at OBCC, which housed most new admissions to the jail before intake was moved to another, larger facility in late September with double the clinic space. 

“And the sad thing about it is … you couldn’t do anything about it, it was all management,” the source said. “They knew what was going on and they did nothing.” 

Internal records obtained by The Post offer a glimpse of the problem’s scope and indicate at least 256 inmates festered inside the OBCC intake beyond the 24-hour limit between June and late September because of “medical delay” and “shortage of DOC staff.”

One of those detainees — 42-year-old Isaabdul Karim — died three weeks after he spent 10 days “mired in intake,” where he contracted COVID-19, his lawyers have said. His cause of death is still being determined by the city’s medical examiner. 

During a five-day period in mid-September, shortly before most intake processes were moved to the Eric M. Taylor Center, at least 105 inmates were inside the crowded cells long after they should have been moved, records show. 

In response, a spokesperson for the DOC said the “conditions in these photos do not exist at Rikers Island today.” 

“We’ve closed OBCC’s intake and reopened the Eric M. Taylor Center for intake purposes, ended overcrowding and long waits in intake, and thoroughly cleaned this and many other facilities,” the spokesperson said.

 So the D.O.C. had to reopen a jail to ease intake. Which confirms that City Council's legislating and Mayor de blasio's decision to close Rikers exacerbated the humanitarian crisis in the prisons.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Douglaston shelter suspended for now

 Civic files lawsuit to stop homeless shelter 1 

Queens Chronicle

The Douglaston Civic Association secured a temporary restraining order against the city last week in an effort to stop a planned homeless shelter from opening in the neighborhood.

The building at 243-02 Northern Blvd., the former Pride of Judea, is in the process of being converted to house 75 single women over the age of 49. The civic group has long complained that the plans do not outline acceptable living conditions.

“That’s completely overcrowding,” civic President Sean Walsh told the Chronicle. “That’s less room than they’d have in a jail site. If you’re trying to help the homeless, this isn’t the way to do it.”

The TRO was filed Oct. 14 and will prevent the city, Department of Homeless Services and the developers from progressing on the project, which was set to open before the end of 2021.

The Douglaston Civic has advocated against the shelter since it was announced in December 2020, but not, it says, because it is wary of homeless individuals living in its neighborhood. Walsh wants to be clear that the group is concerned with the conditions of the dormitory-stye “barracks” and lack of bathrooms planned, but would welcome the women if they were given appropriate living quarters.

“If they want to build a permanent residence for women who are down on their luck, they can build small apartments at this site. We’d have no objection to that,” said Walsh, saying those wouldn’t accommodate as many individuals but would provide each with appropriate space.

The civic has another issue with the former Pride of Judea site: The building would not conform to city zoning laws. Walsh said the building, which previously served as a mental health clinic with offices, would need a variance to be used for housing.

“Whatever they want to put there has to conform to laws. The building as they proposed does not,” Walsh said.

The DHS told the Chronicle that the allegations against the shelter are inaccurate. A spokesperson asserted that it will fall in line with all health and safety codes.

“The health and safety of the New Yorkers who we serve is our number one priority. Whenever [Department of Social Services] approves a proposal for shelter, we expect a finished product that is ready for occupancy and complies with relevant laws, rules, and regulations, including City safety requirements,” the spokesperson said in an email, adding that the agency is confident the courts will agree and recognize that the shelter is a necessary resource for the neighborhood.

The Blaz extends his vaccine extortion to city's non-profit contractors 



Tens of thousands of nonprofit workers and other city contractors are covered by Mayor Bill de Blasio’s latest vaccine mandate — presenting new challenges to an already beleaguered sector that includes social service groups.

When Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday that all 300,000 municipal employees must have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine by Nov. 1 or lose their pay, buried in the fine print were about 125,000 city-contracted nonprofit workers who also must comply.

It’s unclear how many of those workers are currently unvaccinated and providing weekly proof of a negative COVID-19 test, as currently required for those without the shots. The de Blasio administration has not said whether nonprofit workers are eligible for the $500 vaccine bonus available to city employees.

Nonprofit organizations and union leaders are urging the city to slow down implementation of the new requirement.

“Nine days is a short turnaround to go from a vaccine or test to a vaccine mandate,” said Michelle Jackson, executive director for the Human Services Council, which represents 170 nonprofits in the city.

Sliwa declares bike lane flame war



 NY Post

Republican mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa vowed Thursday to end the city’s “war on vehicles” by removing bike lanes and speed cameras — in stark contrast to transportation policies promoted by his Democratic rival Eric Adams.

“This administration, the de Blasio administration, and clearly Eric Adams, if he’s elected, partner with Bill de Blasio, would want to continue this war on vehicles in the City of New York,” Sliwa said at a campaign stop in Manhattan.

The Guardian Angel founder said his approach to bike lanes would be, “If you’re not using it, you lose it.”

“Have the Department of Transportation put a wire out and let’s look at the analytics. Every hour, how many bicyclists are passing by, whether it’s recreational, for work purposes, whatever. And if you’re using it, you keep it,” Sliwa proposed.

“Perfect example, Queens Boulevard,” he said.

“I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had visitation with my two youngest sons, we’ve gone to Queens Boulevard, small businesses have been crippled because there’s no parking as a result of the bike lane and we sit there for like an hour.

I’ve … barely seen a bicycle going in one direction towards the city or in the direction of Long Island. That would have to be eliminated,” Sliwa said. 


The Blaz's vaccine mandate is going to leave garbagebergs on the streets

Winter is coming

Caption Paul and his neat sideburns


Thursday, October 21, 2021

Curtis Sliwa and Eric Adams talking New York

The two men running to become New York City's next mayor faced off in their first debate Wednesday night, a relatively calm affair after some mild drama before the event.

Republican nominee Curtis Sliwa, the founder of the 1970s-era Guardian Angels anti-crime patrol, told NBC New York as he was heading into the debate that his opponent, Eric Adams, called him the "Donald Trump of New York," which he said showed a lack of civility.

Sliwa also said that the Democratic nominee and mayoral frontrunner refused to shake his hand when the two were almost right next to each other earlier in the day in East Harlem.

Once the debate began, the two men offered starkly different visions about how to lead the nation's largest city out of the pandemic, improve public safety and gird the city of 8.8 million people for more powerful storms driven by climate change.

Democratic Mayoral candidate Eric Adams says that he supports Mayor de Blasio's vaccine mandates for city workers but would have gone about the implementation differently.

The first topic was the city's new vaccine mandate, with Adams saying that Mayor Bill de Blasio was correct to mandate vaccination for city workers. He went on to say that as mayor he would work with union leaders and members to come to an agreement regarding the mandate. Adams also said he would uphold the decision to bench any NYPD officers or FDNY firefighters who refused to get vaccinated.

Sliwa disagreed, saying that the city doesn't "have enough police officers as it is." He also touted multiple times that he would hire thousands of more police officers in an effort to address public safety, using a new property tax on Madison Square Garden, Columbia University and NYU to fund the 3,000 more cops — a plan he said Andrew Yang championed, and was done in the 1990s by then-mayor David Dinkins.

Republican Mayoral Candidate Curtis Sliwa is against the current mayor's vaccine mandate for city workers, including NYPD and FDNY.

Adams retorted that Sliwa "made up crimes so he could be likeable," referring to an incident in which Sliwa lied about his own kidnapping in the 1980s. The candidate then hailed his own public safety initiative, where he said he will support the police — but only to a point.

"Public safety is the prerequisite to prosperity," Adams said. "I will have the backs of my police officers, but that covenant if you decide to undermine the nobility of public protection, you will not serve in my department. We're not going to see disorder in my city."

Democratic candidate Eric Adams and Republican candidate Curtis Sliwa clash over their opinions on vaccine mandates.

The two then had somewhat similar notions of bringing back a toned-down version of the controversial police tactic known as stop-and-frisk, with Sliwa supporting its use in areas with more gang activity. Adams said he has called for "appropriate police tactics," with a new anti-gun unit to focus on gangs and guns using "precision policing, but also precision resources."

Democratic Mayoral candidate Eric Adams says there will be no disorder in the city should he be elected.

There weren't many heated moments during the debate, but one of the livelier moments came as Sliwa attacked Adams for saying he would carry a gun, saying that sends the message of "do as I say, not as I do."

Adams chose not address the barb, a strategy he has used throughout the campaign and continued for most of the debate, repeatedly dismissing Sliwa while refusing the opportunity to respond to an extended, rapid-fire critique from his opponent.

Since NBC is being selfish, here's the whole thing.

Highway Stars


Generations of motorists in Queens have been tormented by bottlenecks on the Long Island Expressway that have been just as predictable through the years as death and taxes.

Governor Kathy Hochul announced Wednesday, Oct. 20, that the state’s Department of Transportation has begun construction on projects to add auxiliary lanes and improve exit and entrance ramps on the thoroughfare in Queens from the Little Neck Parkway all the way to 48th Street in Maspeth and Sunnyside.

“Investment in our state’s transportation infrastructure is critical for the continued expansion of a thriving economy,” Hochul said. “These much-needed upgrades will ease congestion and enhance safety along one of the most heavily utilized vehicle corridors in New York state.”

Construction has begun on a $19.7 million project that will lengthen three acceleration lanes and three deceleration lanes. Three auxiliary lanes will also be added between 48th Street and the Little Neck Parkway in Douglaston, improving traffic flow and allowing motorists additional space to exit and enter the highway.

“The overall safety on our streets and the modernization of our aging transportation infrastructure go hand-in-hand,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said. “This critical project will address both, and Queens is grateful for the state’s sizable investment in the much-needed revamping of the Long Island Expressway. We look forward to ensuring a safer, smoother ride for those who drive.”

The project will not expand the LIE to four lanes in the area nor expand the HOV lanes in Nassau County into Queens, according to a NYS DOT spokesman. Exit and entrance ramps at Kissena Boulevard, Utopia Parkway and Francis Lewis Boulevard will be extended by approximately 370 feet. Other safety enhancements will be installed at those locations.

Auburndale noise terror


 Hundreds of Auburndale residents and small business owners rallied on Saturday, Oct. 16, for the shutdown of a rowdy neighborhood lounge that has been disrupting the quality of life in the area for the past eight months. 

Residents were gathered outside of Kloud Tequila Grill (Silk Hookah Lounge LLC), located at 192-08 Northern Blvd., where they voiced their frustrations about inappropriate illegal activity occurring at the lounge. 

Ever since Kloud Tequila Grill opened, Tsourapis says her family’s life has been a “living nightmare.”  

“We can’t sleep because of the loud music and screaming until 5 a.m. every day. The constant noise, drag racing, garbage and sexual activity right outside of our home is affecting our health and neighborhood safety,” Tsourapis said. “Even though they’re operating without a liquor license, none of our many 311 complaints or calls to the police have made a difference. City Hall must shut down Kloud Tequila Grill now."

 According to residents, the incidents at Kloud Tequila take place on a daily basis, seven days a week, much of it occurring from midnight to 3 a.m. over the past eight months.

Despite numerous complaints to government agencies and law enforcement, residents say nothing has changed. 

The Auburndale Northern Association has launched an online petition for an investigation into the bar.

Dosung Andrew Jung, who represents one of the many small businesses on the block, said they’re concerned about the way Kloud Tequila Grill is conducting their business.

“Every day, we find garbage, vomit, empty liquor bottles scattered around the block,” Jung said. “Our safety is put at risk with drag racing by intoxicated patrons. Our quality of life is ruined with unacceptable noise from Kloud and sex acts inside parked cars at night. We demand City Hall shut down Kloud now!”


We demand an immediate investigation into Kloud Tequila Grill (Silk Hookah Lounge LLC), located at 192-08 Northern Boulevard, Queens, NY 11358.  

We support the local residents and small business owners in the neighborhood surrounding the block between Northern Boulevard and 45th Avenue (north-south), and 192nd and 193rd streets (east-west) in Queens, New York, who have suffered greatly from the actions of Kloud Tequila Grill (Silk Hookah Lounge LLC) on a daily basis, seven days a week, from midnight to 3 o’clock in the morning, over the past eight months.

Reported incidents include illegal sale of alcohol without a license, sale of alcohol to intoxicated patrons, loud music, littering and vermin, public urination, the construction of unsafe building structures without a permit, drag racing and drunk driving, violations of COVID-19 executive orders, public sex acts, etc.  We believe many of these incidents constitute serious violations of New York State and City Law, are potentially life-threatening, and must be immediately addressed.

Despite numerous complaints to government agencies and law enforcement over the past eight months, nothing has changed. 

We have documentation of these incidents, including dozens of 311 service requests, and can provide much more, including photographs, video, and eyewitness testimony.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Dave Chokshi's health department offices are COVID traps

NY Post 

 About 1,000 New York City Health Department employees have signed a letter blasting the agency’s return-to-office guidelines, accusing it of failing to communicate internal COVID-19 cases and not following a “science-informed” approach, including masking and social distancing.

“It’s a huge contradiction because we’re the Health Department,” one agency worker told The Post.

“We, of all agencies, are falling short of implementing an evidence-based and science-informed return-to-office process.”

“We’re not just whiny people who want to sit at home in sweatpants on our laptops,” a second DOH employee said.

“We are all so committed and dedicated to public health, and so hardworking. But we want scientific evidence explaining why it’s safe to go back to the office.”

Their eight-page Oct. 1 letter to DOH Commissioner Dave Chokshi says the agency’s Queens headquarters lacks onsite COVID-19 testing and sufficient supplies of hand soap and sanitizer.

“We’ve continuously found hand sanitizing stations empty on the 11th floor and a lack of hand soap available at 11th-floor kitchen sinks, despite having placed several service requests,” the fed-up public health workers wrote in the letter, which was obtained by The Post.

 In addition, not all employees are adhering to mask rules — and instead of having supervisors enforce them, workers are asked to “police each other,” which creates uncomfortable situations, according to the letter.

The open cubicle setting at Long Island City headquarters also doesn’t allow for social distancing because desks are closer than six feet apart, a third DOH worker told The Post.

The letter requests agency officials “regularly provide information about our actual risks at the worksite, based on available evidence,” including the number of staff infected with COVID-19 and the “date of diagnosis at different DOHMH worksites.”

“Be transparent with actual details on airflow, expected transmission rate in our workplace settings, the rationale for removing the physical distancing requirement, and why it is considered safe to have us eat at our desks,” it says.

The exasperated agency workers also want to know why the commissioner didn’t question the mayor’s decision to force all 300,000 city workers back to their desks full-time starting Sept. 13 if it isn’t safe.

They note that Chokshi told them during an internal town hall meeting in August that productivity hadn’t suffered from remote work during the pandemic — despite the mayor saying that municipal workers don’t get as much done at home.

The Health Department has led the city’s response to the pandemic that’s sickened over 1 million New Yorkers and killed nearly 35,000 residents.

This exchange during a very overlooked zoom briefing about the Key to NYC revealed DOH officials flouting these guidelines.


Governor Kathy's ethics czar is fine with Cuomo's pandemic profiteering

NY Post

Martin Levine, JCOPE’s deputy general and then co-executive director, last year approved Cuomo’s profit-making book contract.

Cuomo agreed that state government resources would not be used to prepare the book under the ethics agreement with JCOPE.

“I move to void the opinion of the deputy general counsel [Martin Levine] acting in the capacity as acting co-executive director approving Gov. Cuomo’s publishing activity on the ground that there was a failure of required concurrence by the other acting co-executive director,” Lavine, who was appointed by Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt (R-Lockport).

Lavine was referring to Monica Stamm, the legal counsel, who was then the co-executive director because CEO executive director Setha Agata resigned.

An amendment to the motion said the book deal was approved based on “material facts that were omitted” or “misrepresentations.”

The defeated motion also would have given Cuomo, who is no longer in office, 20 days to re-apply for JCOPE’s blessing.

JCOPE last month also voted to allow Cuomo to keep the profits from his book, “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic.”