Saturday, November 27, 2021

NYC Social Services Dept. official doesn't think homeless people can get or spread COVID

Governor Kathy brings the pandemic back to where it started based on speculation

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NY Post 

Here we go again.

Gov. Kathy Hochul signed an executive order Friday to postpone elective hospital surgeries — something that hasn’t been done since the worst of the initial coronavirus outbreak last year.

Hochul said she made the move to deal with staffing shortages and boost bed capacity amid an anticipated “spike” in new cases and the emergence of the new Omicron variant in South Africa. The strain is named after a letter of the Greek alphabet.

“We’ve taken extraordinary action to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and combat this pandemic. However, we continue to see warning signs of spikes this upcoming winter, and while the new Omicron variant has yet to be detected in New York State, it’s coming,” Hochul said.

“In preparation, I am announcing urgent steps today to expand hospital capacity and help ensure our hospital systems can tackle any challenges posed by the pandemic as we head into the winter months. The vaccine remains one of our greatest weapons in fighting the pandemic, and I encourage every New Yorker to get vaccinated, and get the booster if you’re fully vaccinated.”

The edict curbing non-essential surgeries will kick in for hospitals with a limited capacity — defined as at or below 10 percent of available staffed bed capacity.

The new protocols will take effect on Friday, Dec. 3, and will be re-evaluated based on the latest COVID-19 data on Jan. 15.

Maybe Kath can ask Uncle Joe to send another battleship hospital to the Intrepid dock. Maybe we'll use it this time.

 

Friday, November 26, 2021

A tale of two curb bills

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NY Post

City Council members Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a slew of measures designed to reduce traffic chaos caused by trucks delivering goods purchased online.

One of the moves aims to siphon off dedicated curb space for the likes of Amazon and UPS.

The legislation requires the city Department of Transportation to institute loading-only parking spots in each neighborhood and develop “micro-distribution centers.” The distribution centers would serve to transfer parcels from large trucks to smaller transit vehicles such as cargo e-bikes.

The DOT will have to install five dedicated loading zones per neighborhood per year for a total of 1,500 over three years, according to the legislation.

“We have to recognize the dynamics of our streets and how things have changed, especially when it comes to how people receive their goods — which is mostly through packages and so forth,” said Council Member Antonio Reynoso (D-Brooklyn), the bill’s sponsor.

A few days later...



Caption Cuomo's new look

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Also...

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Davey Chokshi reminds you to serve your unvaccinated relatives outside on Thanksgiving

 

 

CBS New York 

Student reporters get sex predator teacher removed from school that the city kept on

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NY Post

 Pupil Power!

Thanks to intrepid student journalists, an English teacher and coach at prestigious Townsend Harris HS in Queens was yanked from the school this week after it came to light that city investigators confirmed he had sex with a former female student.

Joseph Canzoneri, 53, allegedly brought the girl to an apartment where he plied her with wine and marijuana before they had intercourse and oral sex, the Special Commissioner of Investigation for city schools found.

The SCI recommended Canzoneri be fired, and the Department of Education tried to do so. But the girl refused to testify at a hearing, so the case was dropped and he was entitled to keep his job under New York tenure protections.

After more than a year in a rubber room, a space where accused teachers await the disciplinary process, he quietly returned to Townsend Harris at the start of the school year in September. The principal kept him out of classrooms in an office.

The scandal remained under wraps until three weeks ago, when someone leaked the case to teen journalists at the school’s student newspaper, The Classic.

Known for aggressive reporting, the paper has run a series of articles in the last year on six former students who claimed sexual contact with three Townsend Harris teachers — cases all kept secret at the time. The unnamed teachers no longer work at the school.  The editors have called for greater openness and training on educator sexual misconduct.

In light of this campaign, an anonymous “concerned parent” sent The Classic the bombshell SCI report on Canzoneri. The precocious journos spotted him in the building and on Wednesday filed a Freedom of Information Law request with SCI to authenticate the document. 

Suddenly the DOE took action. The same week — the agency would not say which day — officials shunted Canzoneri from Townsend Harris into a “central office” somewhere outside of the building. After making $135,000 last year, he remains on the payroll.

“It is past time for greater transparency about what has gone on at Townsend Harris and for the DOE and school administration to engage students and families in an open, honest conversation about the horrific allegations we have reported on,” editors-in-chief Ryan Eng, Julia Maciejak, and Jasmine Palma told The Post.

This school should send these kids to City Hall and trail the Blaz for the next month. 

NYC Council approves Gowanus luxury public housing rezoning after leveraging NYCHA repairs and also the blood bank tower upzoning

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The Real Deal

The City Council both bucked and abided tradition Tuesday with the approval of a life sciences expansion on the Upper East Side and a sweeping rezoning in Brooklyn.

Lawmakers voted to rezone Gowanus to allow mixed-use buildings in an 82-block area largely restricted to manufacturing use. City officials estimate that the change will enable the construction of more than 8,500 apartments, 3,000 of which would be set aside for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers.

As part of the proposal, City Hall has agreed to pay an estimated $200 million for repairs at two New York City Housing Authority complexes, Gowanus Houses and Wyckoff Gardens. Local Council members Brad Lander and Stephen Levin had said they would not support the rezoning unless the city committed to at least $132 million.

The city is also pledging $174 million in sewer upgrades and will require new development to meet new stormwater rules aimed at stemming sewage overflows into the infamously polluted Gowanus Canal, where a cleanup that was fiercely debated during the Bloomberg administration is underway.

The City Council also greenlit plans for a larger headquarters for the New York Blood Center at 310 East 67th Street. The proposal was approved despite objections from Council member Ben Kallos, who represents the area, and marked the first time since 2009 that the City Council has flouted member deference, or the tradition of voting with the local member on land use decisions.

The vote came after Council leaders reached a deal to reduce the height of the blood center building from 334 feet to 218 feet (233 with mechanical equipment). The project, which is being developed by Longfellow Real Estate Partners, would serve as an expanded headquarters for the New York Blood Center as well as office and lab space for other life science companies.

Kallos objected to the scale of the project and has called on the developer to reduce the height even further. The de Blasio administration, City Council leaders and Manhattan officials negotiated a deal without Kallos because they did not trust that he would reach an agreement that met their goals for the site.

On the Council floor ahead of the vote, Kallos said approval would send the message that “local council members don’t matter anymore” and would serve as a “blueprint for deep-pocketed developers to get whatever they want.”

NYC Council plans to give voting rights to immigrants residing in the city and country for 30 days

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Politics NY 

City Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez (D-Manhattan) led other elected officials and several dozen advocate organizations in a City Hall Park rally Tuesday celebrating a measure that will allow roughly 800,000 non-citizens living in New York City for at least 30 days to vote in all city elections.

The measure dubbed “Our City, Our Vote ” now has a veto-proof supermajority 34 out of 51 City Council supporting the legislation guaranteeing passage at the council’s stated meeting on Dec. 9. It comes as nearly half of New York City households have a member with green card status or other undocumented status. 

It also comes as a number of city lawmakers – once part of those immigrant households themselves – are leading the movement to pass the bill.

“My mom had all of her kids in a public hospital,” said City Councilmember and Brooklyn Borough President-elect Antonio Reynoso, who attended the rally. “My mom couldn’t vote for a representative that could ensure a quality education for her kids.”

Reynoso’s family came from the Dominican Republic and raised him in Williamsburg, which he now represents in the council. 

“It’s about time that we finally get an opportunity where we show these representatives what we want, what we need and what we deserve at the voting booth, where it most matters,” Reynoso said. 

He thanked Rodriguez and the work of the New York Immigrant Coalition, who have been organizing the rallies and the letters as part of the campaign to get the bill passed. 

While Mayor Bill de Blasio has said he has “mixed feelings” about the bill because he feared that allowing noncitizens to vote might remove the incentive for people to become full citizens, Mayor-elect Eric Adams has voiced support for it.

Under the proposed legislation the New York City Board of Elections (BOE) would issue a separate voter registration form for green cardholders and other noncitizens who have the right to work. Those voters would then fill out a ballot with only New York City offices on it at the polls. 

The bill also calls for training poll workers and community education campaigns to ensure every voter receives the correct ballot.

City gives big real estate developer 90 million to build housing project in Far Rockaway



 QNS

The long-delayed Edgemere Commons mega-project in Far Rockaway is expected to break ground in January after Tishman Speyer’s TS Communities on Nov. 19 announced that it has entered an agreement with Arker Companies to acquire and develop 10 of the 11 building sites at the location of the former Peninsula Hospital.

The 100% affordable housing development will encompass 2,050 apartments, including 237 that will be set aside for seniors, was originally approved by the City council in November 2019 and was expected to begin construction in 2020.

“We are proud to join the Edgemere community and look forward to working with residents and local elected officials to advance the three pillars of Edgemere Commons: affordability, community and resiliency,” TS Communities Managing Director Gary Rodney said. “Real estate is more than buildings. Our team is committed to building community and connection by focusing on what people need to make their lives and their neighborhoods better.”

The Edgemere neighborhood, an area where the median family income is the lowest on the peninsula, will benefit from hundreds of permanent and construction jobs and the project will include a community center, medial space and 72,000 square feet of “neighborhood-oriented retail,” including a supermarket, fitness center, food and beverage and shops, as well as 973 accessory parking spaces.

“Edgemere Commons will increase the availability of affordable housing in Far Rockaway and bring many amenities that will benefit both existing and future residents,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said. “The planned supermarket is especially needed in this community, which is considered a food desert because of its lack of easy access to healthy and nutritious food. I look forward to making sure all of this project’s community benefits will come to fruition and are fully enjoyed by Far Rockaway’s great residents.”

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Noisy hookah nite club gets liquor license revoked

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QNS 

Two northeast Queens lawmakers joined several Auburndale residents outside of Kloud Tequila Grill on Saturday, Nov. 20, to announce that the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) has temporarily suspended the establishment’s liquor license, prohibiting the sale and consumption of alcohol on the premises. 

While community members feel the license suspension is an important step in the right direction, Senator John Liu and Assemblyman Edward Braunstein are calling on the SLA to permanently revoke Kloud Tequila Grill’s license in order to protect the welfare of the community. 

While community members feel the license suspension is an important step in the right direction, Senator John Liu and Assemblyman Edward Braunstein are calling on the SLA to permanently revoke Kloud Tequila Grill’s license in order to protect the welfare of the community. 

The issues involving Kloud Tequila Grill, also known as Silk Hookah Lounge LLC at 192-08 Northern Blvd., extend well beyond unneighborly behavior, Braunstein said. 

“For months, the local community has been raising concerns that the ownership and patrons of this establishment were engaged in activity that severely compromised public health and safety,” Braunstein said. “While the SLA’s ruling to suspend Kloud’s liquor license is a good first start, more needs to be done. I continue to urge the SLA to do the right thing by the Auburndale community and permanently revoke Kloud’s license. Enough is enough.”

Residents and small business owners have reported a host of disturbing issues, including the sale of alcohol to intoxicated patrons, public urination, drag racing, public sex acts, loud music and littering.

 

Monday, November 22, 2021

Steven Banks weasels out of the DHS

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NY Post

The embattled head of the city’s sprawling network of social and homeless services, Steve Banks, has ended his pursuit of a position in Mayor-elect Eric Adams’ administration and will depart at the end of the year, he announced Monday.

The longtime lawyer’s decision to leave municipal service and return to the courtroom comes after a slew of newspaper investigations and city reviews exposed significant shortcomings and wrongdoing at key nonprofit shelter providers.

“Steve Banks is a skilled and accomplished public servant, who has navigated complex government problems to find essential solutions on behalf of New Yorkers,” Adams said in a statement. “I wish him well in his new endeavor.”

Might as well leave this here too.

NY Post

At least a dozen homeless people — each a “different shade of crazy” — have colonized the historic Manhattan Bridge colonnade, terrifying residents and besmirching the century-old neoclassical structure with shanties, tarps and tents.

Nearby businesses and residents told The Post their new neighbors are not only a blight near the 111-year-old span once hailed as the gateway to the Big Apple — they’re dangerous too, throwing things when jostled, stealing, and even pooping al fresco.

“Every day’s a problem,” said Zhong Yi Wang, 53, who manages his family’s restaurant, Jisu on Canal Street, where he said three bamboo plants — which cost $800 a pop — recently disappeared.

Bridge denizens often urinate on his door, bang on his window, and even barge inside to scream at him, he said.

Urine isn’t the worst of it, according to a woman who works at the nearby Mahayana Temple.

“Somebody pooped in front of the temple,” said the woman, who only have her first name, Cindy. “And when we talk to them, they just will throw things on you and do all kinds of strange things.”

“It’s not so safe,” she continued outside the Buddhist house of worship. “They will try to punch you or kick you, you have to run away.”

Even other homeless people avoid the area now.


Flushing Meadows dark shadows


 

 NY Post

One of the Big Apple’s most popular and crime-ridden parks is routinely being left unguarded.

The city has significantly slashed the number of parks enforcement patrol officers assigned to Flushing Meadows Corona Park over the past few months – a move that left Queens’ largest park without on-duty security during large chunks of at least a dozen days the past month – including Wednesday and Thursday, some officers and their union told The Post.

“It’s shocking they won’t prioritize a park this big,” said Joe Puleo, president of Local 983 of District Council 37. “It puts everyone in danger – both the public and our members who lack the resources to enforce the law.”

Flushing Meadows has a longstanding reputation of attracting wild gatherings after 9 pm, when the park closes and the public is supposed to leave. Sometimes thousands gather near Meadow Lake, Fountain of the Planets, the officers and union said.

Some get high off booze and drugs, rev muscle cars, blast music, and urinate on the grass, they added.

In the fiscal year ending June 30, there were 35 reported crimes at Flushing Meadows, the most of any park in the borough and third to only Manhattan’s Central Park and Washington Square Park citywide, records show.


Sunday, November 21, 2021

Five men arrested during riotous protest in Middle Village

 Kyrk Freeman 

NY Post

Mayor-elect Eric Adams condemned an angry mob that wreaked havoc on a sleepy middle-class Queens community as they protested Kyle Rittenhouse’s acquittal.

“It’s one thing to protest at any elected official’s office … but to come to a neighborhood and openly destroy property, be disruptive and throw objects at the residents of the neighborhood — that is unacceptable in our city,” fumed Adams during a Saturday news conference in Middle Village.

He was joined by Councilman Robert Holden, who represents the neighborhood, and other pols in condemning Friday night’s incident in Middle Village, where about 40 mostly masked rabble rousers terrorized the neighborhood by destroying cars, American flags and attacking a cop.

Five were arrested and charged with rioting, including Kyrk Freeman, 22, Daniel Wattley, 28; Alex Davis, 33; Charles Edmonds, 37; and Jonathan Lefkowitz, 38 who was also allegedly caught with the hatchet and hammer and faces an additional charge of criminal possession of a weapon.

Adams, according to Holden, called to arrange the news conference, offering a glimpse into how different his administration could be compared to City Hall under Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Holden, a moderate Democrat, is routinely at odds with the far-left-leaning de Blasio and one of his toughest critics. The councilman accused him Friday of adding “gasoline to the fire” by tweeting “We can’t let this go” in response to the Rittenhouse acquittal — even as the NYPD was on alert for potential protests.

“This guy has turned his back on white, middle class neighborhoods throughout the city,” Holden later told The Post. “To have Eric Adams come out here before he’s even in office and show he has our backs is very refreshing.”

However, the mayor-elect refused to say whether he actually believed de Blasio incited any riots.

“I believe the real crisis is that a 17-year-old was legally able to carry a gun…” said Adams, the Brooklyn borough president and a retired NYPD captain. “This is not about Mayor de Blasio. This is about the future of our city, and that is my primary focus.”

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Mob engages in vandalism during protest against Robert Holden's tweet about Bill de Blasio's tweet about the Rittenhouse verdict


 

 NY Post

Protests sprang up in New York and other cities across the country Friday night in response to Kyle Rittenhouse’s acquittal, resulting in at least five arrests and some property damage in Queens, according to the NYPD.

Police tweeted a photo of vandalized vehicles in Queens, including a car with handicap plates that had “F–k you” graffitied on the back in black spray paint.

“The NYPD takes its responsibility to protect the 1st amendment rights of peaceful demonstrators seriously,” the tweet said. “Just as important is the safety of NYers & the protection of property from people breaking the law in the name of protest. As seen tonight in Queens, they will be arrested.”

Law enforcement sources said five people were arrested for allegedly damaging cars and houses in Middle Village.

Queens Councilman Robert Holden told The Post that protestors tore through Crowley Park, and were also “jumping on cars and stealing American flags” on residential streets in Middle Village and Maspeth.

Holden raged over Mayor Bill de Blasio’s statement decrying the verdict, saying it “added gasoline to the fire.”

He said he sent the mayor a text that read: “Thousands of families mind their own business are in danger tonight because of your reckless reaction to the trial verdict.”

What does Holden and his district have to do with the Rittenhouse incident and verdict? This looks more like a personal attack on a council member and his district than a call for social justice and it sure looks like this "protest" was planned for a while.

Friday, November 19, 2021

Adams plans to make Brooklyn Machine Head his chief of staff

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Politico

The incoming Adams administration is considering Frank Carone, counsel to the Brooklyn Democratic Party, for a high-ranking cabinet position, multiple sources familiar with the situation told POLITICO.

Carone is a close confidant of Adams and has deep political connections in Brooklyn. He is being considered for chief of staff, a role that would put him squarely within Adams’ City Hall inner circle, should he end up joining the administration, the sources said.

Carone heads up the Brooklyn office of Abrams Fensterman, a law firm he has built up with the help of a wide network of political and legal relationships. In addition to multiple practice areas including divorce proceedings and criminal law, the firm offers strategic advice on government relations and assists clients who have business before the city in navigating byzantine agencies.

Should he join Adams’ administration, Carone would likely need to divest from the company. And even then, the government-facing work of Abrams Fensterman would carry the potential for conflicts of interest.

“Frank Carone is a trusted friend and adviser to Mayor-elect Adams and will continue to be whether or not he is part of the new administration,” campaign adviser Evan Thies said in a statement.

Adams has been known to value loyalty, and with Carone would have a close friend at his side come January. In addition to being Adams’ personal attorney, Carone bundled petitions for his mayoral campaign and provided it with office space. The two are so close, in fact, they have spent Thanksgiving together.

They also share a strong relationship with the Brooklyn Democratic Party, whose connection to City Hall would be fortified by having Carone advising Adams from within. Carone has served as counsel to the party for roughly a decade and Adams’ campaign was backed by Party Chair Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn.

Chiefs of staff have varying levels of importance based on the administration and the person in the role. Earlier chiefs of staff to Mayor Bill de Blasio, for example, held far less sway than Emma Wolfe, who currently has the job and is one of the mayor’s closest advisers.

Responsibilities range from vetting ideas and proposals before they reach the mayor to keeping tabs on a wide range of agencies, according to Peter Madonia, who served as chief of staff under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

 

Community and Council member calling for investigation of bad Blaz's bribe derived blood center tower deal

 A view of the New York Blood Center on 67th Street in Manhattan, New York. 

NY Daily News

A community group opposed to a contentious Upper East Side rezoning is demanding two city watchdog agencies investigate Mayor de Blasio and a law firm pushing the land-use change, citing what it describes as de Blasio’s “potential conflict of interest.”

De Blasio, who supports the rezoning, owes the law firm Kramer, Levin & Naftalis an estimated principal debt of $300,000 for work it did to defend him against multiple corruption investigations starting in 2015. With interest, the total debt comes to about $435,000 — but so far, none of it has been repaid.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio

Kramer Levin is also representing the New York Blood Center, a non-profit blood bank, which is pursuing the rezoning so it can replace its three-floor headquarters with a tower more than 300-feet tall.

The plan has been a lightning rod in the community, with locals saying the proposed building isn’t a good fit for the mostly residential neighborhood and area elected officials lining up against it.

 De Blasio and several members of the City Council, however, are backing the plan, which has led one community group that opposes it — Eastsiders for Responsible Zoning — to question the mayor’s considerable debt to Kramer Levin, citing it as a red flag that the city’s Department of Investigation and Conflicts of Interest Board should further examine.

“Mayor de Blasio currently owes Kramer Levin a substantial sum stemming from Kramer Levin’s representation of the mayor in multiple corruption probes of his fundraising activities,” the group’s co-founder Bill Angelos wrote in a letter to DOI dated Nov. 8. “The non-payment of this debt represents a potential conflict of interest.”

Angelos goes on to write that the mayor’s support for the project and his efforts to whip votes in its favor stems in part from “the substantial obligations the mayor owes Kramer Levin.”

“Most concerning is that there’s no payment plan disclosed,” he continues. “With each passing month, this debt grows by an additional $4,000, creating more and more leverage for Kramer Levin against the mayor.”

The Corona and Rego Park Horrors

 

 

Impunity City

 Located on Van Doren St. abutting 108 St and Corona Ave., this multi-family house has been abandoned for over a decade. And according to Department of Buildings records, it hasn’t been inspected for a decade as well. Apparently there was interior work being done on this home the last time the DOB was here in 2011 and after a bathroom collapsed through the ceiling and the ticket was resolved, the owner and the DOB just gave up on it.

 

 

But it’s not the only shithole in the Middle East of Queens, about 5 miles away in Rego Park stands another abandoned formerly modest two-family house. on Wetherhole St, just a hundred feet from bustling Woodhaven Blvd and a quick walk from the Queens Center Mall.

 

Thursday, November 18, 2021

It's official: Hell has frozen over

Joe Kasper, the Susan Lucci of Queens, always a bridesmaid but never a bride when it came to court elections, finally emerged victorious thanks to the carpetbagging efforts of Paul Vallone, who lives in Flushing but decided to run in the conservative Woodhaven Blvd corridor.

Congratulations.

Hopefully PFV Sr. kept the receipts for the robe and gavel he was planning to give his boy for Christmas.

Tell The Blaz what you really think about the job he did in his two terms as Mayor of New York City

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Bill de Blasio

When I launched my campaign for Mayor outside my home in Brooklyn in January 2013, I promised that we would take dead aim at the Tale of Two Cities.

Today, I am writing to ask for your feedback. I’d love to know what you think we did well during my time as mayor, and where you feel we came up short.

Please take 2 minutes to complete a short survey sharing your thoughts about my time as mayor.
 
After winning the primary and through my inauguration, we heard over and over that our vision for One New York was not possible.
 
When I said that we would not wait to offer free, full-day pre-K to all of New York City’s children, the New York Times said it was a noble idea that would never happen and that we were wasting our time.
 
Today, 70,000 children are enrolled in pre-K and we’ve launched 3-K for All. When I said that we would not wait to reform a broken stop-and-frisk policy in New York City, the editorials and statements from officials of that time basically said the city would fall apart the moment we got rid of the program.
 
The opposite happened. We started showing respect to our young people and we got safer. Before COVID, New York City was the safest big city in America with the lowest number of major crimes in the modern era.
When I said that we would not wait to require developers to build more affordable housing, people said they were too powerful.
 
Eight years later, we have delivered affordable housing to 275,000+ New Yorkers through the most ambitious affordable housing plan in our city’s history.
 
When Donald Trump dropped out of the Paris Agreement and his administration rolled back climate protection after climate protection, there was a lot of disappointment, but little hope about what could be done in response.
We doubled down, cutting greenhouse emissions by 17% below 2005 levels despite significant growth as a city, and committed to divesting $5 billion of NYC’s pension funds from fossil fuels.
 
When COVID hit, we were the epicenter of the crisis with an incompetent president who denied science and didn’t want to test simply because he didn’t want to see the numebrs. We didn’t have what we needed — the ventilators, the PPE, the testing labs. It was one of the most difficult moments in our city’s history.
 
But New Yorkers stepped up to protect each other, as we do. We created our own supplies to save lives. And we went from worst to first — from the epicenter to one of the safest places in America. And when the naysayers said it couldn’t be done, when cities all over dared not try, we re-opened our schools.
But we have done more:
 
We reduced pedestrian fatalities by 45% making our streets the safest since the dawn of the automobile. We achieved the city’s highest ever graduation rate and lowest dropout rate, and we launched ThriveNYC to ensure New Yorkers who need mental health support have access to it where and when they need it.
 
There is a lot to be proud of during our time, and I hope many of you are. I also understand if you believe there are places we fall short. But either way, I really want to hear from you.
We’ll be gathering replies at this link:
 
 
We still have a few weeks to go before the end of my term, and I will be working hard through the last hour. I am also very excited about what Eric Adams is going to do for our city moving forward. I’ve known Eric for a long time, and he’ll be an exceptional mayor who will take us to the next level.
But today, I look forward to hearing from you.
 
In solidarity,
Bill de Blasio


Here is a sample response, feel free to copy, paste and post too...

"NO...rather than 2 mins., I'm waiting for years to learn why you haven't done anything about collecting the near $1billion in unpaid DOB/ECB fines AND the "write off" clause in City Charter...clearly, you sold out to REBNY!"

City doing the homeless hotel shuffle with tenants displaced by Hurricane Ida

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 THE CITY

Families flooded out of Queens homes by the record-breaking Ida rainstorm may soon be forced by the city to relocate from a Radisson hotel near Kennedy Airport and move a borough away.

The looming trip to one of two hotels in downtown Brooklyn could take place before Thanksgiving, the Ida evacuees say they’ve been told by the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

“We just want more time,” Eileen Bendoyro, 52, said Tuesday after being informed she and her 13-year-old son Christopher would have to move to Brooklyn after staying at the South Jamaica Radisson since the epic Sept. 1 storm.

 Our activities are in Queens. We have small kids, babies, people who are disabled — to go to Brooklyn, it’s too far,” she said of the group still at the airport hotel.

Bendoyro’s basement apartment in East Elmhurst flooded, destroying nearly everything, she said. A week later, President Joe Biden and other elected officials visited the neighborhood, stopping at an alleyway around the corner from her apartment.

But the visit didn’t help her find a place to stay. She was among 20 families still at the hotel on Thursday when HPD told them they’d have to move by Monday, she said.

By Tuesday, just nine families remained, and they were then told by city officials they could get an extra five days at the Radisson. 

 An HPD spokesman said the city has provided emergency quarters to more than 380 families since the remnants of Hurricane Ida hit and is working to get people into permanent housing.

“We’ve secured extended stays in hotels in downtown Brooklyn for many of those who remain in our care, and will continue to work with the families staying at hotels in Queens to get them back on their feet,” the spokesman, Anthony Proia, said in a statement.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Long time Astoria blog closing down

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Astorians

 I'm writing to announce that this website will be closing down on December 31st.

It's hard to believe this forum is over 17 years old. It all started in 2004 when a small group of us realized there wasn't really a good online forum to share information about some of the great spots in Astoria and just talk about the neighborhood we loved. At first it was just a few of us posting on here, but as the "Freeze Peach Cafe" (managed by my partner Meesh and I) opened and the community around the cafe grew, this online community also grew bigger and bigger.

For many years astorians.com was the most active community discussion site in the community, and it thrived with lots of active posts, and some awesome volunteer moderators that kept all of us relatively well behaved. Lots of people met here (some even got married!), and we talked A LOT about a lot of stuff.

But here in 2021 it feels that there are more options than ever for discussing community issues online, and that the time for a site like this has largely faded. The activity level on the site is much lower than it was at its peak, and it's a significant struggle to try and keep things going and fend off spam (which admittedly I haven't done a great job of for a long time). Rather that let it get taken over by spammers and hackers I've decided it's time to put the site to rest. All good things come to an end.

Many thanks to all who have made this site possible and giving it life all these years:
Moderators or major contributors: mcdirk, daisy, AJTNYC, Astoria Luv, 28Grand, megc, wasabisam, jayme and others

And of course; thank you.

I'd love if you took a moment to share a memory or two about how the site was useful to you through these years, or maybe a memory from your interactions with the people here.

Sincerely,
merm

MTA's virtue signalling on signal upgrades

Delays in Queens, Nov. 16, 2021. 

THE CITY

The MTA’s multi-billion-dollar quest to speed up subway trips by replacing ancient signals is running into delays and cost increases.

The transit agency plans to spend more than $7 billion for new signals on sections of six lines as part of its 2020 to 2024 capital program. But snags with ongoing signal replacement projects in Queens and Brooklyn underscore the headaches and challenges that can accompany such ambitious and intricate projects.

“In terms of the daily experience that riders encounter, this is the biggest issue in terms of reliability,” said Ben Fried of TransitCenter, a transit research and advocacy organization.

On many lines, the traffic lights and indicators can date to the 1930s, limiting capacity on a system strained by high ridership prior to the pandemic. But with commuters steadily returning, state-of-the-art signals are key to MTA’s $51 billion five-year capital plan to upgrade the transit system.

“The benefits are great,” Robert Gomez, the MTA’s chief signals engineer, told the agency’s board Monday. “They provide for better service, faster running times, more capacity, shorter [waits] and bring the system to a state of good repair.”

The only two lines in the subway system equipped with modern so-called communications-based train control (CBTC) signals — the L and the No. 7 — produced some of the highest weekday on-time performance in October, MTA figures show, at 93% and 91%, respectively. That’s above a systemwide average of 83% last month.

Meanwhile, the latest estimates for “substantial completion” of launching a similar signal system along stretches of the E, F, M and R lines that run beneath Queens Boulevard and the elevated F and G lines in Brooklyn have been pushed back, MTA officials said this week.

The $663 million Queens Boulevard CBTC project, which was supposed to be in service this past March, is now scheduled to be operational by the end of the year, according to MTA documents — with its budget increasing to $729 million.

“It does happen far too often,” Andrew Albert, an MTA board member, said of the delays. “There will be some growing pains as different signal systems are phased in and phased out.”

And the project along Brooklyn’s elevated F line — aka the Culver Line — to modernize signals along nearly five miles of track between Church Avenue and West 8th Street, is experiencing COVID-driven delays that have pushed the substantial completion date from August 2022 to June 2023, MTA documents show.

 

C.O.'s will not comply to Blaz extortion mandate

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NY Daily News 

The Department of Correction’s coronavirus vaccination rate has been stagnant for more than two weeks — with nearly half of the agency’s uniformed workforce still holding off on getting their shots despite a looming mandate deadline.

City Hall data released Tuesday shows that only 63% of Correction Department staff have gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. That’s the same vaccination rate the department had on Oct. 31 and the lowest by far of all municipal agencies.

When only accounting for uniformed Correction Department staff — the majority of which are the correction officers tasked with guarding inmates on Rikers Island — the one-dose vaccination rate is just 57%, according to the latest data.

Uniformed DOC staff have a one-dose vaccination rate of just 57%.

Mayor de Blasio’s vaccination mandate for the Correction Department is set to take effect on Dec. 1, sparking fears that thousands of the department’s roughly 8,400 uniformed staff could be suspended at a time when Rikers is already in crisis due to overcrowding, staffing shortages and violence. An unprecedented number of correction officers calling in sick to work fueled the emergency over the summer, though the number of sick-calls have recently diminished.

Benny Boscio, the president of the union representing city correction officers, said mandate-related suspensions could be a recipe for disaster.

“We still have officers working triple shifts with no meals and rest every day,” Boscio said. “To move forward with placing what little staff we do have on leave by Dec. 1 would be like pouring gasoline on a fire, which will have a catastrophic impact on the safety of our officers and the thousands of inmates in our custody.”

Cons hack Con Ed

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SI Advance

 Savvy scammers are using popular payment apps like CashApp, Venmo and Zelle to steal city residents’ money by threatening of utility cutoffs if demands are not met.

Con artists are calling the company’s customers and telling them they need to make an immediate payment using one of the apps or risk having service slashed from their homes, Con Edison announced in a release.

The company said it does not accept payments via payment platforms and does not demand immediate payment. If residents receive a call requesting a bill payment through these apps, they should hang up the phone.

“The emergence of payment apps as the favorite method of scammers shows how inventive these people are,” said James Duggan, a department manager in Con Edison’s Corporate Security group. “They never stop looking for dirty tricks they can use to steal from our customers. We want to be just as relentless in urging our customers to recognize signs that someone is a scammer.”

In 2021 alone, scammers have received more than $550,000 from Con Edison customers, though the company noted the problem is likely to be more widespread as many people who are targeted do not file complaints.

Con Edison said it continues to receive calls daily from customers who were targeted by impostors claiming to be from the company.

The slick scam artists use technology capable of making a Con Edison phone number show up on the resident’s caller ID, the company said. Both residential and business customers are targeted, while Spanish-speaking customers often receive calls from scammers fluent in the language.

In addition to newer payment app techniques, scammers also continue to use well-known tactics against Con Edison customers, including attempts to get residents to buy a pre-paid card to avoid service turnoff.

The company said it has even received reports of scammers claiming the payment did not go through before demanding another payment — causing customers to send multiple payments totaling thousands of dollars to a scammer.

Donnie Richards brings civics to students

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Queens Post 

 The Queens borough president has launched a new initiative to educate high schoolers about city government and the importance of civic engagement.

The borough president’s office is sending in staff into Queens high schools to teach students about the role city officials and elected leaders play in local government, as well as how city government can address quality-of-life issues.

The initiative, dubbed “Civics in the Classroom,” is being offered to one high school per week. The program kicked off this morning at Bayside High School.

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards joined the school’s principal, Tracy Martinez, and hosted a discussion in front of hundreds of students about the importance of voting and getting involved in one’s community.

Richards said that while the younger generation is leading many political movements, there are many young people who are not engaged with or educated about their local government.

“The youngest among us are courageously leading nationwide movements around systemic discrimination, gun violence, voting rights, climate change and more, giving us all so much hope for the future of our society,” he said in a statement. “But there are still far too many young people who are unaware of their power or unsure of their place in our city,”

This was Curtis Sliwa's idea.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

AOC is MIA from her district offices

 This is the office of Assembly woman Karines Reyes,

 and is also the office or shared space of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez.

NY Post

Guess this self-proclaimed woman of the people thinks they are best served from afar.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s New York City district offices are still only open for in-person constituent services on Mondays and Wednesdays — even as municipal workers and school kids have been back at their desks full time for months.

The other three weekdays, AOC’s district office appointments are held virtually.

It’s a sharp contrast to the 14 New York congressional members out of 29 whose offices are open Monday through Friday — and comes after Hurricane Ida wreaked havoc on her constituents.

“Her staff should be here more often, especially for people affected by Ida. There’s no excuse,” said retired school social worker Martha Grubman.

The storm flooded the basement of the 66-year-old retiree’s co-op and knocked out the elevators. Grubman, who’s disabled, was stuck in her home for days. 

“I would like to see them here three days at least, to hear what her constituents want and need,” Grubman said of Ocasio-Cortez’s local staff.

“I don’t know what other commitments they have. Maybe they’re helping her get ready to run for Senate, helping her get on the covers of more magazines,” Grubman conjectured.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Gun shots go off inside of notorious noisy hookah lounge

 

Freedom News 

 Two men were shot and one suspect was taken into custody following a dispute in front of Kloud Tequila Grill and Hookah Lounge on 192-08 Northern Boulevard, in Flushing Queens.

 According to police, a 29-year-old man was shot twice in the leg twice and another male, in his mid 30s, was grazed by a bullet to the back of his head.

Both gunshot victims went to New York Presbyterian Queens hospital with non life threatening injuries.

 The cause of the altercation is unknown at this time. Responding officers recovered a firearm at the scene and took a 19 year old male into custody.

Numerous complaints over the year have not been successful in closing Kloud. After the shooting, a petition was established to have the Queens business be shut down.

Far Rockaway school is the third "gold standard" school to shut down because of COVID infections

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Chalkbeat 

Village Academy in the Far Rockaway section of Queens will close Thursday after health department officials determined COVID-19 is spreading in the school, according to the education department.

It is the second New York City public school closed this week, and the third closure this school year.

As of Wednesday, city data show there had been nine partial classroom closures at the middle school, which shares a building with other schools. The school reported 14 cases among students over the past week and two among staff, according to state data.

Students will transition to remote learning for the next 10 days and can return to in-person learning on Nov. 22. Any student without a device can pick one up tomorrow at the school.

The co-located schools will remain open.

“We do not hesitate to take action to keep school communities safe and our multi-layered approach to safety has kept our positivity rate extremely low,” Department of Education spokesperson Katie O’Hanlon said in an email. “All staff at DOE are vaccinated and all students at Village Academy have access to a device to ensure live, continuous learning.”

The closure was announced on the same day that P.S. 166 was shuttered. The school, which sits on the border of Long Island City and Astoria in Queens, saw 22 students and three staff members test positive since Nov. 3.

The fact that there have been so few closures this year, “speaks volumes to all the precautions that were taken to create a safe environment,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a press conference on Wednesday.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Municipal workers caught with wild vax cards


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NY Post

COVID-19 vaccination fraud may be spreading faster than the deadly bug itself among New York City workers, The Post has learned.

At least two city agencies, the FDNY and Sanitation Department, are in the crosshairs of a probe into employees submitting phony proof of the COVID-19 vaccine — in some cases stealing blank vax cards — in order to comply with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s jab mandate, insiders said.

At the FDNY, the scheme appears to involve the theft of the blank cards from the agency’s Brooklyn headquarters and other facilities where the department was offering jabs, according to a source.

FDNY honchos were sufficiently concerned to warn employees in an Oct. 30 memo, a copy of which was seen by The Post, that falsifying or forging an “official vaccination card” for “the purpose of proving vaccination compliance” may be a felony.

Fire Department officials have called the leaders of at least one union, Local 2507 Uniformed EMTs and Paramedics, to let them know of an investigation into members who submitted forged vaccination cards, according to the source.

“There’s a lot of people in trouble,” said an FDNY insider.

FDNY employees would have access to vaccination cards because the agency’s Incident Management Team had been dispensing the shot to workers in the department and at various city agencies.

Some of the stolen blank cards may have been illegally sold, the insider said. “There were Venmo transactions involved.”

An EMS lieutenant may have been at the center of the scheme, according to a FDNY source.

An FDNY spokesman refused to comment. Oren Barzilay, the head of the EMS union, did not return requests for comment.

The alleged fraud is widespread among sanitation workers — where at least 50 were suspended — and possibly as many as 150 involved — for providing fake vax verification, which they allegedly obtained through people affiliated with CVS drug stores on Staten Island and Brooklyn, DSNYs sources told The Post.

The scheme appears to involve a drug store employee submitting false data to the state, saying workers received the one-shot Johnson & Johnson jab, an insider said.

But the alleged fraud appeared to unravel because CVS was not distributing the Johnson & Johnson shot at the time, the insider said.

Mailbox crackers

Mail thieves targeting Downtown Flushing 1

Queens Chronicle 

There have been a series of mail thefts in Flushing, confirmed by the United States Postal Service, with at least nine green street relay boxes “compromised.”

“Mailboxes were getting absolutely violated,” one resident said.

“We have received reports in the Flushing area, specially in 11358 ZIP code,” Donna Harris from the Postal Inspection Service, the law enforcement division of USPS, told the Chronicle Nov. 5.

Harris was unable to confirm how many boxes have been tampered with, but the resident, Frances Scanlon, said it happened 12 times between Oct. 1 and Nov. 1, as told to her by a Flushing Post Office manager.

Scanlon said she religiously checks her mail at her Beech Avenue apartment complex mailbox, between Kissena Boulevard and Bowne Street, every day. She subscribes to the USPS’s electronic delivery digest, which she said is extremely accurate in estimating when mail should arrive in her mailbox.

On Nov. 1, Scanlon was notified that she should expect three or four pieces of mail in her box, and she asked her sister to go down and pick them up. When her sister arrived, the box was empty.

Scanlon followed up with the Flushing Post Office, and was told by a manager that the relay box for her building had been compromised and two bags of mail were stolen, she said.

The manager did not respond to multiple calls for comment by the Chronicle.

In an email shared with the Chronicle, Scanlon was told by a postal employee that two others were hit that day, in addition to nine other instances in the weeks earlier.

The green relay boxes that were compromised between Oct. 1 and Nov. 1 in Downtown Flushing are located at:

• Hollywood Avenue and 156th Street;

• 41st Avenue and Parsons Boulevard;

• 134th Street and Booth Memorial Avenue;

• 147th Street and Beech Avenue;

• 144-80 Sanford Ave.;

• 140-65 Beech Ave.;

• Phlox Place and Cherry Avenue;

• Saull Street and Blossom Avenue; and

• 149th Street and Sanford Avenue.

Cuomo shitted where he ate with deRosa

 


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Ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his then-top aide, Melissa DeRosa, were allegedly spotted by a state police bodyguard “making out on the sidewalk like high schoolers,” The Post has learned.

The alleged May-December romance was apparently revealed in the sworn testimony of a female state trooper who has accused Cuomo of sexually harassing her and whose interview transcript was released by Attorney General Letitia James earlier this week.

Although DeRosa isn’t identified as Cuomo’s kissing partner in the 143-page document, three sources with knowledge of the proceedings said her name is among several that were blacked out and replaced with job titles, which in her case is “Senior Staffer #1” — the person with whom the then-governor was allegedly seen canoodling.

The unseemly possibility of Cuomo, 63, getting hot and heavy with the married DeRosa, 39, emerged during the probe that uncovered evidence he sexually harassed 11 women — including nine current or former state workers — while serving as the state’s highest elected official.

James’ Aug. 3 report detailing the avalanche of allegations led Cuomo to resign under pressure of impeachment a week later and now has him facing a misdemeanor charge for allegedly groping the breast of another aide, 33-year-old Brittany Commisso, inside Albany’s Executive Mansion, the governor’s official residence.

During a May 19 Zoom interview, the unidentified trooper — who served on Cuomo’s security detail — was asked by an outside lawyer hired by James whether her colleagues ever said they “observed anything between the Governor” and any of his Executive Chamber subordinates, according to the transcript.


Friday, November 12, 2021

Moya the enabler

  New York City Francisco Moya (D-Queens)

NY Daily News

 Queens Councilman Francisco Moya is one of several members of the city’s legislative body vying to become its next speaker, but his record when it comes to sexual harassment could prove to be a non-starter for some — especially given the fact that the 51-member Council will include more than 30 women lawmakers next year.

 The harassment I went through at NYCFC was so bad that now the idea of professional sports terrifies me. Staying in the field of athletics terrifies me,” the intern, Skyler Badillo, tweeted on July 17, 2020. “I thought I was getting the opportunity of a life time when I got that internship. What I got was David Villa touching me every f---ing day and my bosses thinking it was great comedic material.”

Villa, who helped Spain to its only World Cup victory in 2010 and retired in 2019, denied the accusations, saying at the time that they were “entirely false.” But without mentioning Villa by name, NYCFC later found that such conduct did, in fact, take place.

One incoming Councilwoman said his silence does not inspire confidence.

“This is part of why there’s a renewed push to have a woman — and specifically a woman of color — at the helm,” she said.

Among those Moya is facing in the Speaker’s race are Council members Adrienne Adams, Carlina Rivera, Diana Ayala, Justin Brannan and Keith Powers.

When asked about his silence on Villa, Moya claimed on Monday that he barely knew the retired striker.

“I have not spoken to David Villa in years. And I intentionally ran against convicted sexual assaulter, Hiram Monserrate, to prevent him from serving my community,” Moya said, referring to the former lawmaker who was ejected from the state Senate in 2010 after being caught on tape dragging his then-girlfriend by the hair. “This is a transparent effort to take down a Latino frontrunner for speaker. I thought that we had moved beyond this kind of despicable politics in our city.”

But, as Moya tries to court the support of fellow Council members who’ll vote to choose their next Speaker after the New Year, his record from years earlier in the state Assembly could come back to haunt him as well.

In 2013, after the state’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics found that then-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver attempted to cover up sexual harassment charges against the now-deceased and disgraced ex-Assemblyman Vito Lopez, Moya circulated a letter within the body’s powerful Black, Hispanic and Puerto Rican caucus defending Silver.

“He’s really pushed and pushed the progressive agenda when the Senate hasn’t done anything and the governor’s been silent,” Moya said at the time.

 

World's below average borough



 Queens Chronicle

The U.S. economy only grew by 2 percent in the third quarter of 2021, the federal Commerce Department reported Oct. 28. The crawl marks the smallest gain in a year, when the country began its slow economic recovery from the pandemic.

Tom Grech of the Queens Chamber of Commerce doesn’t have equivalent numbers for the borough, but if he had to estimate, he’d say Queens’ margin of growth is even smaller than the country’s.

“I would think it’s below the national average,” he told the Chronicle Nov. 4. “It’s more difficult than ever to get things done in New York City and Queens. Everyone’s gone through a hellish 18 to 20 months. It’s a hard environment.”

The QCC president doesn’t expect the city to be back to “normal” until spring 2022. On a scale of one to 10 — 10 being totally recovered — Grech would put Queens at a seven.

“The thing that’s holding our companies back from doing well is the inability to hire people,” Grech continued. “There’s been an inflation in wages. It’s harder than ever for people to go back to work. Small businesses live and die on a small margin.”

He also said strict rules and regulations from even before the pandemic are hindering businesses, such as limitations on overtime. But speaking two days after Election Day, Grech said he’s been greatly encouraged by Eric Adams’ win in the mayoral race and hopes there will be an overhaul in the favor of small business owners.

Despite the slow recovery, Grech did say there has been a great number of new businesses cropping up around the borough and filling the vacancies left behind by those that the pandemic put out of business. Last May, he had estimated that 1,000 of Queens’ 6,000 restaurants had closed for good, but he’s finding that a fair number have been replaced by new ones.

Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District Executive Director Ted Renz places its vacancy rate at 7 percent, which is the same as it had been pre-pandemic. The Ridgewood strip lost between 25 and 30 businesses during the pandemic, most of them being retail clothing stores, he said, but gained back the same number of new businesses.

Just because the vacancy rate mirrors the BID’s pre-pandemic one does not necessarily mean Myrtle Avenue is back to normal though, Renz asserted.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

City approves luxury public housing development by toxic lake and the upzoning of a blood bank

 


 THE CITY

The City Council announced a deal Wednesday with the Mayor’s Office to reshape Brooklyn’s Gowanus neighborhood — bringing thousands of affordable apartments and hundreds of millions of dollars for public housing repairs and other crucial infrastructure projects.

Meanwhile, on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, a separate agreement put a significantly scaled down-version of New York Blood Center’s plan for a life-sciences hub is on the verge of full approval, despite the local Council member’s opposition.

And downtown, negotiations on the city’s push to rezone SoHo and NoHo to spur affordable housing development centered on the number of units and the future of retail in the trendy neighborhoods, according to City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.

The flurry of activity came as Mayor Bill de Blasio pushes for the passage of some signature projects — including using rezoning to diversify some of the city’s wealthiest and whitest neighborhoods — before he leaves office Dec. 31.

All the proposals have faced various levels of community opposition, including legal challenges. But the Gowanus and Blood Center projects are now set for pre-Thanksgiving votes by the Council, while the SoHo/NoHo plan will come down to the wire next month.