Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Bike zealot re-imagines "Fast Car"



 I headed over to Wegman's today on my $7,000 cargo bike to see if there were any Presidents Day sales on soy based meat. While browsing the aisles, Tracy Chapman's "Fast Car" started playing on the supermarket sound system. I got so upset I almost put down the case of LaCroix I had in my arms and left. This song needs to stop being played in public. Why? Well, the car culture is waaay too strong in this one.

Let's set aside the fact that the song is literally encouraging reckless driving. I mean, it's called FAST CAR. And let's also set aside that the song is about heartbreak and keeping hope alive in the face of despair.

Let's get down to the real nitty gritty.

First stanza

"I want a ticket to anywhere."

If she lived in a 15 minute city, she wouldn't be clinging to a cager driving a death machine to get out.

Second stanza

"Won't have to drive too far, Just 'cross the border and into the city."

Hey lady, if it's not that far, you should be taking public transportation and saving the environment.

Fifth stanza

"So I remember when we were driving, driving in your car, Speed so fast it felt like I was drunk, City lights lay out before us"

That's how fast your loser boyfriend was driving around and you didn't bail? City lights mean there was probably a bus you could have taken home at least.

Sixth stanza

"You got a fast car, We go cruising, entertain ourselves"

OH. MY. GOD. Driving for entertainment? Burning fossil fuels to get your jollies?

"We'll move out of the shelter, Buy a bigger house and live in the suburbs"

Now this is where it really goes off the rails. We amateur urbanists all know that poor people don't drive or own cars. And the writer has dreams of living in the suburbs, the worst possible place for anyone to live! You belong in an inner city housing project, honey.

I know Ms. Chapman is a respected folk singer and that it's black history month and we need to listen to black voices and all, but she gets my white transportation activist ire up. Tomorrow I am going to call the Master of Urban Planning Department at Hunter College and see if any of the students there would like to focus their thesis on how car culture in songs detroys cities.

YIMBY density housing siting in South Ozone Park


 Back in the day a McMansion would be built here but we have a housing crisis so we're going to be seeing a lot more of this. Not sure if this will be affordable though.


 This is also a mixed use building so it's anybody's guess what will occupy it the commercial spaces. Hopefully a day care center but maybe also a ebike battery charging bike shop or weed store.



It just might not be finished by the summer...


Sunday, February 26, 2023

Forget it Jakie, it's the Department of Transportation Alternatives


NY Post

The city Department of Transportation struck out on this one.

Big Apple DOT officials botched a Queens road sign for the Jackie Robinson Parkway, misspelling the color-barrier-busting baseball Hall of Famer’s name.

The sign at Myrtle Avenue and Forest Park Drive features a likeness of the Brooklyn Dodgers’ great — atop the words “Jakie Robinson Parkway.”

“It’s embarrassing,” Glendale native Kira Incantalupo told The Post on Sunday. “Poor Jackie Robinson.

“That shouldn’t have happened,” said Incantalupo, 37. “I mean, nobody wants to have that. It’s a memorial for somebody. It should be corrected.”

Local resident Quana Martin, 32, found the typo disrespectful.

“I just feel it’s a little odd because how do you not know how to spell his name? He’s a well-known figure.”

Queens teen JP Ward had a harsher take.

“It’s f–king stupid,” the 17-year-old said. “I wouldn’t say it’s disrespectful, but it’s definitely stupid.”

Robinson became the first black ball player in Major League Baseball when he was called up by the Dodgers in 1947, breaking the sport’s decades-old color barrier.

He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962, a decade before his death.

“This spelling mistake is absurd,” City Councilman Robert Holden added of the road-sign typo on Sunday. “You don’t have a few eyes looking at these signs? DOT is a mess.

Question: When did anyone call number 42 "JR"?

Mayor Adams showers city hospital systems with money and sole responsibility to handle the migrant crisis



Mayor Eric Adams has handed to the city’s public hospital system control of emergency relief operations for asylum seekers, an internal city memo reveals — bypassing standard oversight procedures for government contracts while spending nearly $100 million on hotel rooms.

An Oct. 13, 2022, memorandum of understanding between City Hall and the New York City Health + Hospitals Corporation — posted to the nyc.gov website in response to THE CITY’s inquiries — details procedures for what Adams calls Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centers, or HERRCs.

“H+H shall be responsible for the management and operation of the HERRCs,” the memo states. For its part, City Hall committed to reimburse H+H for the costs of building and operating the centers, which also include the now-dismantled barracks-style shelter at Randall’s Island and a space at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in Red Hook.

It is signed on behalf of H+H by Dr. Ted Long, a senior vice president who heads the city’s COVID testing and treatment operation. Signing on behalf of the mayor was Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom.

Health + Hospitals board meeting materials show that H+H President and CEO Mitchell Katz last fall authorized more than $92 million in spending on Manhattan hotels through spring 2023: $40 million for ROW nyc, $20 million for the Watson, $28 million for the Stewart and $5.8 million for the Wolcott.

H+H is also paying to use a Holiday Inn in Lower Manhattan, as revealed in the ongoing bankruptcy case of the hotel’s operator. That HERRC opened earlier this month.

Huron Consulting Services, LLC — a firm that was also involved in H+H’s COVID testing operations — is getting up to $18.5 million to help open the migrant housing sites. Rapid Reliable Testing, LLC, got approved for an $11.5 million contract for medical triage.

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Drug lord who ordered hit on Officer Byrne got decarcerated



When members of the NYPD and FDNY gather outside the 103rd Precinct in Jamaica in the early morning Saturday, Feb. 26, to mark the 35th anniversary of the assassination of Police Officer Eddie Byrne, the solemnity of the observance could be mixed with outrage.

On this weekend in 1988, the 22-year-old rookie was sitting in a squad car outside the South Jamaica home of a resident who complained about drug activity in the neighborhood when a gunman approached the vehicle and shot Byrne five times in the head.

On Feb. 17, Lorenzo “Fat Cat” Nichols, the drug kingpin who allegedly ordered the hit, but was never charged in the murder, won early release from federal prison three years early, where he was serving a 40-year sentence for ordering the 1992 murder of 34-year-old parole officer Brian Rooney.

Members of Nichol’s notorious drug gang drove up on Rooney as he sat in a car near Baisley Park and fired multiple shots, killing him and two other victims after Nichols had orchestrated their hits from prison while serving time on a separate conviction.

U.S. District District Judge Edward Korman granted Nichol’s motion to reduce his sentence, ruling that the federal Bureau of Prisons failed to credit the drug kingpin for the four years he served in federal custody before pleading guilty to ordering the revenge killings of Rooney, Issac Bolden and Myrtle Horsham, Nichol’s ex-girlfriend.

In his motion for compassionate release, Nichols argued he suffered from various health ailments, including his prostate, stress, and anxiety caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, rolling lockdowns, and harsh conditions during his 37 years of confinement. He also mentioned he suffered the loss of family members due to COVID-19 complications, including a niece and his newborn grandson, in June 2022.

Judge Korman, who sentenced Nichols to 40 years in prison in 1992, said he could reduce his prison term under the federal First Step Act signed into law by former President Donald Trump in 2018.

“In calculating his projected release date, the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) did not give him any credit for the four years spent in federal custody before his federal sentencing, between 1988 and 1992,” Judge Korman wrote in his ruling. “So in this case, if I were sentencing today, I could have overcome the manner in which BOP calculates his release date by sentencing him to 36 years instead of 40 years.”

Judge Korman noted that his ruling would not result in Nichol’s release from imprisonment because he was convicted in Florida of a separate offense in 2007 and was sentenced to 10 years to run “consecutive to his federal and New York state charges.”

“Fat Cat” Nichols remains in federal custody at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. He is awaiting his transfer to Martin County, Florida, where he was convicted for running a car theft and title fraud ring, according to the federal Bureau of Prisons.


Thursday, February 23, 2023

City council progressive caucus member tells constituents to never walk alone


Queens Post

City Councilwoman Julie Won is calling for residents to walk in groups and to try to avoid walking alone at night following a spate of gunpoint robberies in her western Queens district over the last 10 days.

Won took to social media late Tuesday to ask residents to be more vigilant following two muggings occurring at gunpoint Tuesday morning, Feb. 21, with one incident occurring in Sunnyside and the other in Woodside.

The first incident took place on 44th Street at 11:15 a.m., where a 33-year-old man was set upon, while the second occurred around 15 minutes later on 49th Street in Woodside with the victim being a 59-year-old man, according to police. It is understood that the same two suspects carried out both robberies.

The muggings come after three similar incidents in the neighborhood last week.

“Our community’s safety is our top priority,” wrote Won, who represents the 26th Council district that covers Sunnyside, Woodside, Long Island City and a portion of Astoria.

“Please be vigilant — walk in groups when possible and avoid walking alone late at night unless absolutely necessary.”

The lawmaker said that in light of the crimes, the 108th Precinct has increased its patrol of the area with extra marked and unmarked vehicles, as well as boots on the ground.

Won is also calling for residents to report all emergencies to 911 and wrote that the 108th Precinct holds its monthly community meeting every fourth Tuesday at Sunnyside Community Services, located at 43-31 39th St.

Mario Cuomo's daughter's homeless shelter closes down

A large complex of buildings on Randall's Island in New York City.


A notorious homeless shelter on Wards Island with ties to former Gov. Andrew Cuomo's sister has quietly closed following years of complaints about conditions.

The 200-bed HELP-USA facility for men with mental illness — formerly run by Cuomo's sister, Maria Cuomo Cole — was shut down in December despite a record number of people staying in city homeless shelters. There were more than 70,000 people in the shelter system Wednesday night, according to official data.

A spokesperson for HELP-USA — which the former governor founded more than 30 years ago — confirmed the closure. Cuomo Cole serves on HELP’s board of directors and describes herself as chair emeritus. The nonprofit operates three other shelters on Wards Island.

“Unfortunately, due to concerns with the building infrastructure, we were forced to close the site at the end of 2022,” HELP spokesperson Stephen Mott said.

The organization’s five-year, $65 million contract with the city to operate the shelter was due to expire in June, according to city comptroller records.

Crumbling conditions at the 13-story Meyer building earned the shelter the distinction of being one of the worst in New York City.

Shelter inspection reports issued by the Coalition for the Homeless revealed frequent heat outages, The City reported in 2019.

In 2021, a resident was stuck in a broken elevator at the building for four nights.

The barracks-style shelter on an isolated island served by a single bus line was especially tough for people with mental illness, Legal Aid attorney Joshua Goldfein said.

“This place was barely fit for human habitation, in addition to being inaccessible and terribly located,” he said.

Goldfein described a litany of problems, including drafty windows that HELP-USA attempted to address by covering them with plexiglass. But the quick fix cut off ventilation in the shared dormitories, a problem reported by Curbed in 2021. Elevators in the “fortress-like” building were only accessible by stairs, limiting access for people in wheelchairs or with other mobility issues, Goldfein added.

Mott, HELP-USA’s chief strategy officer, said all of the sleeping areas and common spaces in the shelter had air conditioning units that operated well.

He said residents were moved to permanent housing and other shelters throughout the city. The Department of Homeless Services said the closure was planned, but did not provide specifics about where residents were placed. An spokesperson for the agency said it has no plans to reopen the facility as a shelter.

Andre D-Nyse, a former resident of the facility, told Gothamist that staff and fellow residents frequently brought weapons. Shelter staff, he said, also used pepper spray on people.

“People have weapons and be hurting people in their sleep,” D-Nyse said in a text message. “I can’t live like this no more… I’m moving to the street as soon as it gets warmer out.”


Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Governor Kathy Clown's security's stupid corruption


NY Post 

State Police investigators are probing whether troopers in Gov. Kathy Hochul’s security detail have been cheating taxpayers by claiming they’re on the clock when they’re actually blowing off their shifts, The Post has learned.

The probe is focused on members of the governor’s detail stationed in New York City — and those troopers under scrutiny have already been removed from their post and could face disciplinary action if the allegations are confirmed, officials and law-enforcement sources told The Post on Monday.

The governor’s detail includes a rotating group of more than 40 troopers and supervisors, sources said.

The New York State Troopers’ Internal Affairs Bureau is probing claims that at least some of them had their records falsified so that they could still get paid even when they weren’t working, sources said.

Some of the troopers are specifically accused of having colleagues sign them in on timesheets and then simply not showing up for their shifts, sources said.

IAB investigators grilled several troopers in Hochul’s detail last week about the allegations, with more officers expected to be questioned later this week, according to sources.

The probers also are reviewing everyone’s timesheet, sources said.

In a statement Monday, state police spokesman William Duffy confirmed that the agency “has launched an administrative investigation into time and attendance issues involving members of the Protective Services Unit.

“Integrity is one of our core values and we thoroughly investigate any claims of wrongdoing,” Duffy said. “If our investigation determines that our policies were violated, the state police will take appropriate disciplinary action.”

Hochul, who was elected last year after taking office in 2021 to replace disgraced former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, is assigned three different security details to protect her: in Albany, New York City and when she is at her home in Buffalo. 

The sources said each of the Albany and New York City details consists of four troopers and one supervisor when they’re on duty, with the details drawn from the larger group.

Monday, February 20, 2023

Albany DA repressed from bringing data proving the bail reform laws have failed


NY Post

Thank you for having me here to testify about public safety in New York state. 

I’m going to open by saying something you’ve all heard before; the reforms passed in 2017 and 2019, although they were well intentioned and brought about important changes, have been extremely detrimental to public safety. 

What you may not have heard before is a hard truth: that these reforms have had their most devastating impact on black and brown communities. If you take an honest look at the data — the increases in crime, the victims of those crimes and the location of the most violent crimes — the connection is quite clear. 

I’ll set the stage by taking a look at our practices before the reforms. For statistical purposes I will highlight a large metropolitan county and a mid-sized upstate county. 

One area that commanded much attention pre-reforms was the percentage of people who were being held on bail post-arrest but pre-conviction. Let’s set the record straight: that was always low, even prior to bail reform. In Albany County, 40% of the beds at the correction facility were occupied by sentenced defendants and defendants awaiting trial on violent felonies. 

One 2019 study of the jail population in Queens County found that 95% of the defendants being held pretrial were being held on felonies, 41% on violent felonies. 

The perception that many people were being held on minor charges on low bail amounts was always absolutely false. In fact, the same Queens study showed that defendants being held solely because of their inability to post bail on misdemeanor charges had an average of more than five felony arrests, seven misdemeanor arrests, seven misdemeanor convictions and almost three failures to appear. 

At some point, repeated violations of the law and disrespect for the process has to be treated with the level of seriousness it deserves. 

When bail reform took effect just over three years ago, thousands of defendants were released from local jails. In fact, some judges actually started a “soft launch,” if you will, by releasing some defendants in November of 2019 in anticipation of the new laws, apparently to avoid the mass release of thousands of incarcerated individuals on one day — and perhaps the bad press that would garner. 

Among those individuals suddenly released were hundreds of accused drug dealers, car thieves, shoplifters, burglars, and robbers statewide. 

Members of law enforcement have often been told that the suspension of services during the overlapping coronavirus pandemic was the driving force behind the increases in crime in 2020. While that was undoubtedly a contributing factor, that is not a holistic explanation for the decline of public safety. 

We actually do have a short window of time to analyze that was post-reforms but pre-COVID. That would be the first 2 ¹/₂ months of 2020. Crime had already started rising — by a lot — by the time the coronavirus hit. 

In New York City alone, crime rose 20%, ending a 27-year stretch of yearly crime reductions. Crime was up across the board. Burglaries up 26.5%; robbery up 33.9%; grand larceny up 15.8%; car theft up 68%; petit larceny up 19%. 

What a coincidence that each of these crimes became a non-bail­able offense in 2020, meaning that all those previously held on bail on these charges were released by Jan. 1, 2020. If you deny that the release of hundreds of car thieves, burglars, drug dealers and petty thieves had an obvious impact on crime in New York, you’re denying common sense. 

You don’t need to be a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing. 

Additionally, the new law created a new form of release: “non-monetary release.” This allows judges to release a defendant without bail but enables them to impose certain conditions, such as requiring the defendant to report to a pretrial agency, seek employment or wear an ankle bracelet. These conditions could only be imposed if the court found that the defendant was a flight risk. 

This release condition was designed to replace bail, while placing some restrictions on the defendant intended to be more impactful than release on recognizance. These were imposed, essentially, on the defendants who would have had bail set under the old law. If they had a prior conviction or pending case, it would be even more likely a judge would have set bail under the old law. 

If we use the Unified Court System’s pretrial data dashboard, and look at the defendants put into the non-monetary release program, we see the following: 

  •  Between Jan. 1, 2020 and June 30, 22, 39.6% of the defendants put into NMR got re-arrested while their case was pending. 
  • For those defendants put into NMR who had a prior conviction or pending case (79% of the total), the re-arrest rate was 44.6%. 
  • For those defendants put into NMR charged with commercial burglary, the re-arrest rate was 62%. For residential burglary, it was 47%. For grand larceny, it was 56%. For robbery third degree, it was 56%. For petit larceny, it was 67%.

However, even these numbers undercount the full scope of recidivism. They do not count re-arrests during the time between plea and sentence, which can run for weeks or months. They only count one re-arrest, so if a defendant gets re-arrested four times while out on bail, it only counts in Department of Criminal Justice Services stats as one arrest. The implicit assumption in all of this, that a career criminal is arrested every time they commit a crime, is naïve to say the least. 

In the mind of someone who is determined to break the law, the ability to repeat offenses over a short period of time with minimal repercussions serves only to incentivize such behavior. 

Speaking of incentivizing behavior with the removal of consequences, the impact of Raise the Age has been comparably detrimental to public safety. Since the implementation of Raise the Age, Albany County has seen approximately 312 Raise the Age cases, involving only 230 defendants. I only say “approximately” because these numbers can change on a day-to-day basis. 

Thirty-four percent of those defendants have been arrested more than once; 19% percent of those re-arrested were detained as minors. Of those re-arrested, 62% were re-arrested for a violent felony. 

But what do those numbers mean? Those numbers mean that transferring a case to family court often leads to the defendant being returned to the very community that led them down that path to begin with. Violent cases need to remain in the adolescent part to prevent further community harm. 

Back to the bail reform law, we should also look at the literal wording of the law, specifically, the words “least restrictive.” These two words from the Bail Elimination Act are specifically referenced by judges when making a determination on bail. That standard often leads to a demonstrably dangerous person being returned to the same environment and community in which they committed their crimes. This helps neither the community nor the offender. 

I’d like to conclude by saying, despite the wild misconceptions, generalizations and assertions of activists about the intentions of prosecutors, our aim isn’t to lock up as many people as possible, for as long as possible. 

The decade-and-a-half period between the Rockefeller Reforms and Pre Bail Reform in 2020 reflect the greatest gains in public safety in the history of New York state. Prosecutors engaging in intelligence-based investigations and prosecutions applied a tough-on-crime and smart-on-diversion approach that ushered in the age of prison closings throughout New York state. 

We understand the complicated nature of social determinants of crime and agree that those should also be prioritized. 

However, pretending that accountability and the immobilization of criminals isn’t a critical part of public safety is akin to pretending the Earth is flat. 

Just because your echo chamber repeats it, doesn’t make it true.

As a public service in my duty as being somewhat a journalist, here again is the full list of criminal offenses that legislators minimized for the bail reform law that has led to the near 30% rise in crime in New York City:

 2nd degree Burglary of a residence
2nd degree Burglary as a Hate Crime
3rd degree Burglary of a commercial building
3rd degree Burglary as a Hate Crime
2nd degree Robbery aided by another person
2nd degree Robbery as a Hate Crime
3rd degree Robbery
Criminal sale of a controlled substance (multiple counts)
Using a child to commit a controlled substance crime
Criminal possession of a controlled substance (multiple counts)
Criminal sale of a controlled substance in or near a school
Criminal injection of a controlled substance into another person
Criminal sale of a controlled substance to a child
Criminal sale of a prescription for a controlled substance by a pharmacist
Criminal possession or creation of Methamphetamines
3rd degree Assault
3rd degree Assault as a Hate Crime
Reckless Assault of a child by a day care provider
Reckless Assault of a child
Stalking (multiple counts)
Stalking as a Hate Crime (multiple counts)
Vehicular Assault (multiple counts)
Aggravated Vehicular Assault
Aggravated Assault on a child under 11 years-old
Aggravated Assault on a child under 11 years-old as a Hate Child
Menacing (multiple counts)
Menacing as a Hate Crime (multiple counts)
Reckless Endangerment (multiple counts)
Promoting a suicide attempt
1st degree Stalking while committing a sex offense
Criminal Obstruction of Breathing
Criminally Negligent Homicide
2nd degree Vehicular Manslaughter
Aggravated Vehicular Manslaughter
2nd degree Manslaughter
Unlawful Imprisonment (multiple counts)
Unlawful Imprisonment as a Hate Crime (multiple counts)
Aggravated Labor Trafficking
Custodial Interference (multiple counts)
Substitution of children
Coercion (multiple counts)
Coercion as a Hate Crime (multiple counts)
Criminal Trespass (multiple counts)
Criminal Trespass as a Hate Crime (multiple counts)
Possession of burglar’s tools
Unlawful possession of a police scanner
Criminal Mischief (multiple counts)
Criminal Mischief as a Hate Crime (multiple counts)
Criminal Tampering (multiple counts)
Cemetery Desecration (multiple counts)
Aggravated Cemetery Desecration (multiple counts)
Reckless Endangerment of property
Tampering with a consumer product (multiple counts)
Possession of Graffiti tools
3rd degree Arson
4th degree Arson
5th degree Arson
3rd degree Arson as a Hate Crime
4th degree Arson as a Hate Crime
5th degree Arson as a Hate Crime
Grand Larceny (multiple counts)
Grand Larceny at a Hate Crime (multiple counts)
Aggravated Grand Larceny of an ATM
Petit Larceny
Petit Larceny as a Hate Crime
Computer Tampering (multiple counts)
Computer Trespass
Unauthorized use of a computer
Unlawful duplication of computer materials (multiple counts)
Welfare Fraud (multiple counts)
Criminal use of a public benefits card (multiple counts)
Criminal possession of a public benefits card (multiple counts)
Unauthorized use of a vehicle (multiple counts)
Auto stripping (multiple counts)
Theft of services
Unauthorized use of a credit card
Fraudulent Accosting
Criminal Possession of Stolen Property (multiple counts)
Forgery (multiple counts)
Criminal possession of a forged instrument (multiple counts)
Criminal possession of forgery devices
Criminal possession of a Vehicle ID Number
Forgery of a Vehicle ID Number
Falsifying business records (multiple counts)
Tampering with public records (multiple counts)
Offering a false instrument for filing (multiple counts)
Insurance Fraud (multiple counts)
Health insurance fraud (multiple counts)
Criminal diversion of prescription medications (multiple counts)
Commercial bribery (multiple counts)
Rent Gouging (multiple counts)
Residential mortgage fraud (multiple counts)
Aggravated identity theft (multiple counts)
Bribery (multiple counts)
Perjury (multiple counts)
Bail jumping (multiple counts)
Obstructing governmental administration (multiple counts)
Obstructing governmental administration with a self-defense spray device
Killing a Police Dog or Police Horse
Obstructing emergency medical services
Obstructing governmental services with a bomb
Escape (multiple counts)
Promoting prison contraband (multiple counts)
Resisting arrest
Hindering prosecution (multiple counts)
Making a false sworn statement
Bribing a witness
Receiving a bribe as a witness
Bribing a juror
Receiving a bribe as a juror
Providing a juror with a gratuity
Tampering with a juror (multiple counts)
Tampering with physical evidence
Compounding a crime
1st degree Criminal Contempt – refusing to be sworn in as a witness
2nd degree Criminal Contempt
ALL Gambling offenses
ALL Prostitution offenses
Providing indecent material in minors (multiple counts)
Riot (multiple counts)
Criminal Anarchy
Harassment (multiple counts)
Harassment as a Hate Crime (multiple counts)
Aggravated Harassment (multiple counts)
Aggravated Harassment as a Hate Crime (multiple counts)
Aggravated Harassment of an employee by an inmate
Criminal nuisance (multiple counts)
Falsely reporting a crime
Pointing a laser at an aircraft (multiple counts)
Harming a service animal (multiple counts)
Public lewdness
Illegal eavesdropping
Dissemination of unlawful surveillance (multiple counts)
Non-support of a child (multiple counts)
Endangering the welfare of a child
Assisting in female genital mutilation
Endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person
Endangering the welfare of a vulnerable elderly person
Endangering the welfare of a disabled person (multiple counts)
Promoting an obscene sexual performance by a child
Possession of an obscene sexual performance by a child
Promoting a sexual performance by a child
Possessing a sexual performance by a child
4th degree Criminal possession of a weapon
Criminal possession of a weapon on school grounds
Criminal possession of a firearm
3rd degree Criminal possession of a weapon
Criminal purchase or disposal of a weapon
Unlawfully wearing a body vest
Unlawfully fleeing a police officer in a vehicle (multiple counts)
Enterprise corruption
Money Laundering (multiple counts)
Money Laundering in support of terrorism (multiple counts)
Corrupting the government (multiple counts)
Criminal solicitation (multiple counts)
Conspiracy (multiple counts)
Conspiracy as a Hate Crime (multiple counts)
Criminal facilitation (multiple counts)


Sunday, February 19, 2023

Queens doesn't get the money



The Queens Borough Board voted overwhelmingly to approve the package of budget priorities Monday, Feb. 13, although several community board chairs expressed concern over issues caused by the city’s migrant crisis.

Chaired by Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, the budget priorities were developed largely from input received from two days of public hearings late last month on Mayor Eric Adam’s proposed $102 billion 2024 budget.

Pursuant to the City Charter, the Borough Board must submit its budget priorities each year to the mayor, the City Council and the city’s Office of Management and Budget.

Irak Cehonski, director of budget for the Queens Borough President’s Office, presented numbers on Monday that showed significant budget shortfalls for city agencies — except for the NYPD — and how much they’ll affect city services in Queens.

Most concerning among the budget cuts included a $295.3 million shortfall for the Department of Education and a $257 million shortfall for the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

“Especially coming out of the pandemic, I don’t know how we cut anything to do with health,” Richards said. “We weren’t prepared during the first wave of the pandemic — I know all of us remember those days and we don’t want to see it again — so we need to make sure we’re fighting those cuts as well.”

Richards also bristled at the Summer Youth Employment Program being slashed by $21.7 million; the Department of Sanitation facing more than $53 billion in reductions; a $61.6 million shortfall at the Department of Housing Preservation and Development; and a $12.2 million shortfall for Queens Public Library.

Cehonski said the Department of Homeless Services slashing nearly $70 million is a “huge concern” for Queens and moments later Community Board 3 Chairman Frank Taylor explained why.

“It is devastating to my community of which I serve, Community Board 3 in North Corona, East Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights,” Taylor said. “Everyone knows we’re a shelter town with 12 or 13 of them and the city wants to cut money and resources.”

He also railed against the lack of affordable housing, MTA bus reductions on Northern Boulevard, and the chronic shortage of hospital beds after a dozen hospitals shuttered in the last 15 years.

“This is not fair. This is deplorable,” Taylor said. “We pay some of the highest taxes in the city per capita and we’re not getting anything over here except more shelters.”

Rev. Carlene Thorbs, chairwoman of Community Board 12, which has coped with high shelter populations around JFK Airport for decades, called the influx of migrants “heartbreaking” and said that the city needs to be more transparent.

“We’re taking in a lot of the asylum seekers and we don’t know where they are because nobody wants to tell us because it’s a security situation but we’re supposed to be ready for them in our schools,” she said. “You’ve got to trust us to assist and to help because we can’t even get a list as to where they are unless something tragic happens and then it pops up on the news. It has to be fixed and it has to be fixed now because if our mayor doesn’t fix it, it will never get done.”

 But at least we'll get some open streets.


Saturday, February 18, 2023

Mayor Adams neglects hiring rat czar to make up a czar for open streets and restaurant shanties instead



Mayor Eric Adams has tapped Ya-Ting Liu to be the city’s new chief officer of the public realm, as he signed an executive order officially creating the new cabinet position that will oversee the creation of more “extraordinary public spaces” across the five boroughs to “drive” the city’s economic rebound from COVID, according to his office.

Adams first announced he would add the new role to the top ranks of City Hall during his State of the City address late last month, based on a recommendation from the New New York Panel convened last year, which issued a December report mapping out plans for the city to reinvent its economy post-pandemic.

“Our city’s public spaces are too important to fall through the cracks of bureaucracy, and now they won’t,” Adams said, in a statement. “New Yorkers need to know there is one person at City Hall whose number one goal is to improve their quality of life by creating incredible, new public spaces and ensuring the ones we have are clean, equitable, and safe. As someone who knows how to think big and ‘Get Stuff Done’ for New Yorkers, Ya-Ting Liu is the right person to serve as the city’s first-ever chief public realm officer.”

In her new role, Liu will work to implement the mayor’s $375 million plan to improve and create several public spaces across the city, according to City Hall. Those projects include: the “Broadway Vision Plan” to reimagine Broadway in Manhattan, a “full reconstruction” of Jamaica Avenue in Queens (!!!) and making certain open streets permanent in the Bronx and Staten Island.

She’ll also oversee the implementation of a permanent outdoor dining program in conjunction with the City Council.

“In New York City, the public realm is everyone’s living room. It’s where we eat, play, and gather. Having beautiful public spaces accessible to all people is one of our greatest assets — it is what makes New York City so special,” Liu said, in a statement.

“I am thrilled and honored to be the first-ever chief public realm officer for the City of New York, and I look forward to working with our businesses, community partners, and city agencies to build vibrant, attractive, and inclusive public spaces in all five boroughs,” she added.

Mayor Adams caves to remote work culture

Friday, February 17, 2023

State legislators fantasy MTA fix


Queens Post 

New York City lawmakers and public transport advocates held a rally in Albany on Tuesday, Feb. 14, calling on the state to pass a finance bill worth nearly $11 billion that they say would fully fund the MTA through 2026 and make it more efficient.

The legislation, known as Fix the MTA, would also keep current subway fares at $2.75 and prevent a proposed 25 cents hike to $3.

It would also make bus rides throughout the city free by 2027 and aims to make services more frequent and reliable — by ensuring subways and most buses arrive at least every six minutes, every day of the week.

The largest portion of the package, around $4.6 billion, would essentially bail out the agency by plugging its forecasted budget deficit for the next four years, while nearly $2 billion would go towards increasing bus services across the system by 20 percent.

Around $1.4 billion would be allocated to the agency to account for a 27% dip in ridership numbers compared to 2019 levels.

Fun fact: nothing is mentioned about congestion pricing. And it's mostly hedging on

State Senators Michael Gianaris, Jessica Ramos, John Liu and Kristen Gonzalez were among the Queens lawmakers who attended the rally, while Assembly members Zohran Mamdani, Alicia Hyndman Juan Ardila, and Jessica González-Rojas were also present. Assembly member Robert Carroll from Brooklyn and Assembly member Tony Simone from Manhattan also attended.

They were joined by transportation advocate groups such as Riders Alliance, the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA and Transportation Alternatives.

 Jesus Christ these cults are just never going to go away, as a public duty I present the counterpoint plan from Passengers United who actually ride the buses and the trains everyday with their proposal to "fix the MTA" which also includes public safety measures for transit workers, something the Albany fauxgressives and the moneyed transportation actorvates never bother to acknowledge.





Rent stabilized apartments have been memory holed




 In December, THE CITY highlighted a sizable decline in the number of registered rent-stabilized apartments across the city, even after a new state law prohibited removing units from the rent regulation rolls in most cases. Now a tenant advocacy group is using city property records to detail, down to the individual building, where landlords may be failing to report stabilized apartments to the state.

The nonprofit group JustFix shared with THE CITY records of 44,470 buildings that reported rent-stabilized units on their property tax bills in the last few years. The city Department of Finance says it gets that information directly from the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal (HCR), which requires property owners to annually certify the number of rent-regulated apartments in their properties.

Very few rent-regulated apartments should have had their registrations disappear after June 2019. That’s when former Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act, which ended landlords’ ability to remove apartments from rent-stabilization except under rare circumstances.

Yet since then — even as affordable-housing programs have created thousands of new rent-stabilized apartments — the number of units registered with the state has declined sharply.

For tax year 2021, landlords registered 803,216 units as rent-stabilized. That’s down from 869,220 as of the same date in 2019. 

During that time, about 4,000 units left rent stabilization legally, after landlord tax breaks expired. Meanwhile another 10,000 units were added through these tax programs, annual reports from the city Rent Guidelines Board show. 

The reports also show that about 900 remaining rent-regulated units in buildings once converted to condominiums or cooperatives have legitimately left the rolls, as longtime tenants moved out or died. 

It’s also not uncommon for landlords to file their state registration paperwork late — meaning that some of the 10,400 buildings that show a drop to zero rent-regulated units in their 2021 tax bills will eventually get back on the rolls.

But another roughly 3,100 buildings reporting a decline in the number of rent-stabilized apartments since 2019 still have one or more stabilized units registered — meaning that late registrations don’t explain the drop. 

In one Brooklyn building recently profiled in THE CITY that dropped from 12 registered rent-regulated apartments in 2019, to six in 2020 and 2021, tenant rent histories provided by HCR show apartments appear to have exited from rent regulation even after the 2019 rent law should have prohibited their removal.

THE CITY created an interactive map that lets readers search by address and see every apartment unit that was registered with the state as rent-stabilized in 2019 but no longer is.

This data release comes days after a federal appeals court struck down a challenge, brought by landlord groups, seeking to have the entire rent-regulation system ruled unconstitutional — a decision that landlords are now hoping to bring before the Supreme Court.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

The New York City Health Department's blacklist/censorship apparatus


 Reclaim The Net

Employees of the New York City Department of Education who refused to get vaccinated against COVID-19 had their fingerprints and files sent to the New York Criminal Justice Services and the FBI, a legal filing alleges.

New York City had a vaccine mandate for employees of the Department of Education that required them to be fully vaccinated by September 2, 2022. By mid-September, about 1,950 employees had been fired for refusing to get the vaccines.

Those who refused to get vaccinated also had a “problem code” added to their personnel file.

We obtained a copy of the affidavit for you here.

“And while she applied to over 60 jobs during that span, she received no offers because, as one interviewer told her, the DOE attached a problem code for her due to alleged ‘misconduct.’ While she waited for a decision, her home went into foreclosure, her son had to leave college, and she was forced to get vaccinated to feed her family,” read the affidavit of a principal from the Bronx who got suspended without pay for refusing to get vaccinated.

Teachers For Choice claimed that teachers’ “fingerprints are sent with that flag to the FBI and the New York Criminal Justice Services.”

The group further claimed that after personnel files got flagged, they were sent to the Department of Justice and the FBI.

“In addition, you’ve got these problem codes in the personnel files,” said John Bursch, an attorney at Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal group that is defending employees that were terminated by the city, to the court.

“When the city puts these problem codes on employees who have been terminated because of their unconstitutional policies, not only do they have this flag in their files, but their fingerprints are sent with that flag to the FBI and the New York Criminal Justice Services. So it impacts their ongoing ability to get employment.

“Even for those who are eligible for reinstatement, when they apply, they’ve all got so-called ‘problem codes’ in their personal file because they purportedly failed to fulfill a contractual condition, which was to get vaccinated.

“The city simply didn’t like that some people objected to the vaccine on religious grounds and they punished them for that.”

 Reclaim The Net

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene set up a “Misinformation Response Unit” to monitor what it would determine to be “dangerous misinformation” posted on social media, non-US sites, and non-English media in the US.

This “misinformation” mostly had to do with Covid vaccination – the Department was determined to drive vaccination rates up by spreading its word, and in this gathered over 100 partners whose job was to craft positive messaging around the controversial subject.

Among those the dedicated new unit is working with is Public Good Projects, otherwise known for receiving funding from a lobbying group representing two major Covid vaccine manufacturers, Pfizer and Moderna.

Their “good” work here also included sending , on a weekly basis, lists of posts slated for censorship.

In an article published by the NEJM Catalyst journal, those behind the effort are now assessing the Unit’s work as successful, what with it being able to “rapidly identify messages” deemed as containing inaccurate information about the virus, vaccines, treatment, etc.

And although admitting that “vaccine hesitancy” remains high around the world even two years after the vaccines were first introduced – and this is something attributed to “disinformation and misinformation” and continues to worry the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Surgeon General, as well as “medical experts” – the New York City Health Department thinks that it did well in getting its own narrative out, particularly in traditional media.

However, it needed help on the internet and so, in 2021, the NYC Health Commissioner penned a letter to the largest social networks asking them to engage in “broader efforts to curtail deliberate disinformation, particularly from the most notorious spreaders of disinformation and from non-English language sources.”

We obtained a copy of the letter for you here.

This is also where the Public Good Projects came in, to enlist social media “microinfluencers” to spread pro-vaccine messages, and train others to come up with campaigns.

The email Dave A. Chokshi, New York City health commissioner, addressed to then Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and CEO , with the subject line reading, “Vaccine Misinformation,” urges the pair to “take immediate action to stop the spread of fraudulent and inaccurate information about COVID-19 vaccines” on their platforms.

Chokshi wanted this action to be “effective and vigorous” and asserted that misinformation on these sites, as understood by the city’s Health Department, was “costing New Yorkers their lives.”

Twitter and Facebook were then urged to do the following: “Consistently and promptly remove all misinformation regarding COVID-19 vaccines from your platforms and ban any user that repeatedly posts misinformation, including the Dirty Dozen; redesign the algorithms used by your platforms to avoid amplifying misinformation, particularly among non-English languages; provide greater transparency to your data to allow health departments to better identify, track and understand the spread of misinformation, and amplify messaging from trusted public health experts and local partners.”

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Related's LIC deed-in-lieu toodle-ooo


The Real Deal 

Developer and partner BentallGreenOak negotiating deed-in-lieu of foreclosure

The mantra that millennials wanted to “work where they live” drew some of New York’s biggest developers across the East River in the late 2010s to build Instagrammable offices in hot Queens and Brooklyn neighborhoods.

Today many of those offices remain empty, and now some developers are conceding that the gold rush never materialized. 

Case in point: Related Companies’ fund management arm and its partner BentallGreenOak are ready to walk away from the Point LIC, a small campus of converted warehouses in Long Island City that sit mostly vacant after six years. 

The developers have defaulted on their mortgage for the pair of seven-story buildings in the neighborhood’s Hunter’s Point section, sources told The Real Deal. Their lender, mortgage REIT BrightSpire Capital, is looking to sell the non-performing loans, and sources said the borrowers have agreed to hand the keys to the Point over to whoever buys the debt through a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure.

Representatives for Related Fund Management and BentallGreenOak did not respond to requests for comment. A spokesperson for BrightSpire — known until 2021 as Colony Credit Real Estate — declined to comment.

The mortgages on the two buildings total around $150 million, and BrightSpire will look to recoup as much of that as possible.

It’s the latest sign of distress in the office market, as high interest rates and a continued transition to hybrid work expose struggling investments.

Related and BenatallGreenOak paid nearly $104 million in 2016 to buy the two properties: a 130,000-square-foot former oil storage warehouse at 2100 49th Avenue, dubbed the Paragon Building, and a 220,000-square-foot building across the Long Island Expressway at 2109 Borden Avenue called the Blanchard Building.

The new owners spent $45 million overhauling the properties, building new entrances and lobbies, upgrading building systems and installing amenities like cafes and outdoor spaces that were all the rage for offices designed to attract a millennial workforce.

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Hochul shooting down Aqueduct Race Track


Queens Chronicle 

The 128-year-old Aqueduct Race Track appears to be heading into the home stretch, according to Gov. Hochul's 2023-24 executive budget proposal.

Hochul’s proposal for the fiscal year beginning April 1 includes $455 million in capital spending for the redevelopment of Belmont Racetrack, located just the other side of the Cross Island Parkway in Nassau County.

A report on the website casino.org on Wednesday stated that the move could lead to the land being used for construction of a casino right next to the Resorts World New York City in Ozone Park.

“The [Belmont] project will result in the creation of new tracks and parking as well as the construction of a new clubhouse,” according to an entry on page 33 of Hochul’s briefing book. “This project will facilitate the move of Aqueduct racing to Belmont, allowing the State to repurpose the Aqueduct property.”

The document does not offer timelines. It goes on to say that the New York Racing Association will repay the state for the entire cost of the project.

The New York Racing Association, in a statement on its Twitter page on Wednesday, thanked Hochul for supporting the Belmont rebuild, but made no mention of Aqueduct.

Aqueduct first opened in September 1894.

Career homeless services bureaucrat DSS Commissioner quits and runs away from the city's homeless crisis



While appearing on “Inside City Hall” on Tuesday night, Gary Jenkins, the city’s Department of Social Services commissioner who oversees the troubled homeless shelter system, announced his resignation.

The commissioner's move comes as the city is grappling with an affordable housing crisis and influx of asylum seekers that has put pressure on the shelter system.

He told his staff earlier in the day of his impending resignation earlier Tuesday.

“I’ve decided to step down from my position as Commissioner for the Department of Social Services and explore other opportunities that have been presented to me," Jenkins said on "Inside City Hall."

Jenkins' final day is March 3 and leaves the embattled department after only serving for a year. Mayor Eric Adams first appointed Jenkins in January of 2022.

His portfolio includes overseeing the Department of Homeless Services and the city’s Human Resources Administration. 

“There’s no discord, there’s no running away. This was something that was already planned," Jenkins said. “I’m just going to take some time off. Decompress and spend some quality time with my family and get back into this in the month of April.” 

Adams recently said that going into his first year in office, the city’s shelter system had about 45,000 New Yorkers in its care. Meanwhile, close to 40,000 migrants have come to New York from the southern border with over 26,000 asylum seekers still in the city’s care. 

In a statement on Tuesday, the mayor thanked the commissioner for his nearly 40-year career in public service including helping an estimated 1,100 unsheltered New Yorkers under the Mayor’s subway safety plan. 

"Commissioner Jenkins also brought his own experience living in a shelter as a child to the job, a unique understanding of the struggles families in shelters face and a steadfast commitment to treating all of our clients with dignity and care. I'm incredibly grateful to Gary for his decades of service and wish him the very best in his next chapter,” added the Mayor. 

While in office, Jenkins faced a series of scandals including leaving the city in August amid the start of the migrant crisis. 

Jenkins also faced scrutiny after firing a spokeswoman over an alleged cover-up of department violations related to migrant families sleeping at an intake shelter in The Bronx. The incident violated the city’s right to shelter law. 

Adams defended Jenkins in both instances, at one point saying that he had the “utmost confidence” in the commissioner. 

Jenkins previously served as first deputy commissioner of HRA where he started his career holding numerous positions.

A few hours later...

NY Post

A migrant tried to commit suicide at the city’s new shelter in Brooklyn on Tuesday, police said.

The 26-year-old man was found suffering from self-inflicted stab wounds inside the recently opened shelter at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal around 2:15 p.m., cops said.

The man used a shaving razor to cut his right forearm in one of the bathrooms of the housing facility, sources said. He was taken to Lutheran in stable condition.

The Cruise Terminal mega-shelter opened in late January and houses up to 1,000 single adult migrant men.

Last week, advocates and migrants who had been housed at Manhattan’s Watson Hotel protested the city’s decision to relocate single men to the Redhook facility to make room at the hotel for migrant families with children.

Dozens of migrants had camped outside the Hell’s Kitchen hotel in protest for two nights following Adams’ announcement, with activists claiming the new Brooklyn shelter would not provide the single men the same services they had been receiving.

And in one of his final actions as DSS Commissioner, Jenkins and Mayor Adams bails out a bankrupt tower hotel to shelter thousands of migrants, since the Brooklyn Terminal isn't working out so well.

NY Post

New York City is converting the world’s tallest Holiday Inn hotel into the Big Apple’s sixth mega-shelter for its surging migrant population, Mayor Eric Adams announced Tuesday.

The deal will supply 492 rooms for adult families and single women, Adams said in a statement.

“With more than 44,000 asylum seekers arriving in the last 10 months alone, we have helped provide shelter and support to nearly as many asylum seekers as the number of New Yorkers we already had in our shelter system when we first came into office,” he said.

Terms of the contract weren’t announced, but The Post reported last month that the owner of the 50-story hotel in Manhattan’s Financial District had an agreement in place to charge NYC Health + Hospitals a nightly rate of $190 per room.

At full capacity, that would amount to $93,500 a day, or an estimated $10.5 billion through May 1, 2024.

Details of the pact were contained in court documents tied to bankruptcy proceedings involving the hotel, owned by Chinese developer Jubao Xie, which is saddled with debts that include $11 million in interest on loans.

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

The Department Of Transportation Alternatives have stolen parking spaces from people and privatized them

Three Carshare parking only other no standing any time signs. One for zipcar, one for getaround and one for truqit. 

DOT twitter 

Today we announced the expansion of our citywide carshare program. This 5-year pilot (really, aren't pilot programs usually a few months?) has proven to reduce greenhouse gas emissions & personal car ownership. Our ambitious goal for 2023 is to add several hundred more spaces by working with Zipcar, Getaround and TruqIt

DOT Figurehead Commissioner and private car owner and public parking space user Ydanis Rodriguez: “Convenient access to carshare frees New Yorkers from the burden of car ownership – while helping to fight climate change. Thanks to Mayor Adam’s support, we will build on the successes of our pilot program while supporting efficient use of space at the curb.” 
 Over the next two weeks, we will install signage for 80 new, dedicated curbside parking spaces for carshare service. Spaces will be installed in Brooklyn and the Bronx starting today, with site installations in Queens taking place next week. 
 A map of the five boroughs showing where carshare currently exists, a large expansion area across all five boroughs. The map also shows parkland.

Monday, February 6, 2023

The vaccination extortion mandates against city workers is over


Queens Chronicle

City workers and visitors to Department of Education buildings will no longer be required to show proof of vaccination starting Feb. 10, Mayor Adams announced on Monday.

“With more than 96 percent of city workers and more than 80 percent of New Yorkers having received their primary COVID-19 series and more tools readily available to keep us healthy, this is the right moment for this decision,” Adams said in a statement, encouraging people still to get vaccinated and boosted and take Covid precautions.

Many praised the move, saying it was overdue and followed common sense.

“Today’s announcement to suspend mandatory COVID-19 vaccination requirements for all city workers proves that we’ve been correct all along,” Councilwoman Joann Ariola (R-Ozone Park), a member of the City Council’s Common Sense Caucus, said in a prepared statement. “From the very beginning of this pandemic, my colleagues and I have opposed these requirements.”

Also in the caucus are Queens Councilmembers Bob Holden (D-Maspeth) and Vickie Paladino (R-Whitestone).

Those who refused vaccination will no longer be subjected to weekly tests and new hires will not need to prove their vaccination status, opening up a pool of potential employees to fill pandemic-driven manpower gaps, Ariola noted.

But she and her colleagues noted that there is still work to be done as approximately 1,780 workers fired for refusing vaccination will not be able to automatically return to work. 

“This is an excellent step in the right direction, but more needs to be done: let’s rehire all those who lost their jobs to the DeBlasio-era mandates and bring the city back to normalcy,” Holden said on Twitter.

Paladino tweeted, “The war is not yet over, we must continue to fight for those who were wrongfully fired due to a personal medical decision.”

Those workers will be able to apply for positions with their former agencies through existing rules and regulations and hiring processes, the announcement from City Hall stated. The city said it has fully processed and issued decisions for all pending “reasonable accommodation” appeals.

“We are glad that the City has decided to stop fighting against our court victory overturning this unjust and illogical mandate,” PBA President Patrick Lynch said in a statement. 

In September, a judge ruled that the city’s vaccine mandate for municipal workers in the city’s largest police union was invalid.

“However, the job is only half done,” Lynch continued. “We call on the City to ensure that our members who were fired or had their employment unfairly impacted are reinstated, with back pay and without condition.”

Monday’s announcement includes city DOE employees as well as nonpublic school, early childcare and daycare staff.

Queens man plans to convert his illicit commerical residential space into a commercial space


NBC New York

While Sampson Dahl's ex-girlfriend thought the old laundromat he was considering as a potential new apartment was "disgusting," he saw the potential for a great live-work space. He moved in a month later.

"I don't think a space needs to be a perfect representation of what we hope a simple mind looks like," Dahl tells CNBC Make It. "I think a space should be an imperfect representation of the people who are in it at that moment in their lives."

The 27-year-old production designer is no stranger to living in commercial spaces; he used to live in a warehouse in Chicago, so he knew going into his apartment hunt that he wanted to repeat that experience.

"I like the freedom of a commercial space, even though there are definitely fewer tenant rights," he said. "Something feels more ethical about moving into a vacant storefront that's been empty for years than taking up an apartment in some residential neighborhood that you're not familiar with."

Dahl found the former laundromat in Maspeth, Queens, in an online forum in 2019. A former tenant added a small kitchen that gives Dahl enough space to have a sink, stovetop, and toaster oven. The laundromat hasn't been in working order since 2005.

When he first moved in March 2019, the rent was $1750, and he paid two months' rent up front and an $875 security deposit. In 2021, his rent went up to $1850, and on average, he pays $120 for electricity and $60 for the internet.

Dahl is in production design, and one of the perks of the job is access to a lot of free furniture after the projects are done, so he's used that to decorate the space.

"This space enables some [my] hoarding tendencies, but I try to be as decorative with it as possible," Dahl says. "While most of the stuff is technically trash, and a lot of it was free, I try to curate it in the way that is most comfy to me."

Although Dahl loves the space he created, which also includes a songwriting and organ station, he says he only lives there because it's what he can afford right now, but he hopes to move out and have it continue to be a collaborative studio space.

"It'll just be an open store for whoever wants to come in and learn to paint or continue a painting or learn to record a song or continue a song. It's for beginners and people who are already passionate about what they do," Dahl says.

"Living in a storefront has taught me resourcefulness in a way I've never known before. I really can't be too picky about what comes my way; I just have to make the best of it. And that's the greatest skill I could ask for, he added.

"It's nothing I could teach myself; it's something you can only learn from life. That's really in line with the life philosophy I have."

Friday, February 3, 2023

More room at the inn at NYCHA

The Department of Transportation Alternatives gets excoriated for Ridgewood Reservoir bus route that eliminates more essential bus routes


Following the December 2022 release of the MTA Brooklyn Bus Network Redesign proposal, which would eliminate several stops in Ridgewood on the B38 and B13 lines, Queens Community Board 5 (CB5) is drafting a letter to the Department of Transportation (DOT) to voice their opposition to the changes. The bus redesign plan and letter were discussed at Wednesday’s CB 5 transportation and public transit meeting, held at 61-23 Myrtle Ave.

According to the MTA, their bus redesign proposal for the B38 would eliminate service to Stanhope Street, Woodward Avenue, Starr Street, Metropolitan Avenue and Grandview Avenue. Meanwhile, their proposal for the B13 would travel through the Ridgewood Reservoir and Cypress Avenue.

“A good number of people in that portion of Ridgewood along the 38 used that bus in that area, including students from Grover  Cleveland High School,” said Gary Giordano, district manager of CB 5.

Along with Grover Cleveland High School, other important stops in Ridgewood will be cut off in the MTA bus redesign proposal.

“Well, with the B38, it serves a high school, a pretty large public park and two cemeteries, and the route goes up and down the hill, which a lot of people aren’t gonna be able to walk,” said Christina Wilkinson of the Juniper Park Civic Association.

Wilkerson also stated that eliminating service to Liberty Park along the B13 would be unfair to residents living in the area.

“Well, first of all, removing an entire bus line from Liberty Park, they’re also removing part of the Q39, which goes to Liberty Park so that that whole neighborhood won’t have any bus service, it seems like,” Wilkinson said. “I don’t think that’s fair. I think residents should have bus service in that area.”

She also said that adding a bus stop at the Ridgewood Reservoir would be difficult because of the speed bumps on the road.

“It’s going to be difficult to place a bus stop there, and it’s gonna be difficult to place a bus line along that route because it has speed bumps and the roads are restricted to passenger cars only,” Wilkinson said.

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Kathy Clown's budget plan for the MTA is based on payroll taxes and funding speculations


Gov. Kathy Hochul presents her fiscal year 2024 executive budget proposal in the Red Room at the state Capitol.

Mike Groll/Office of Gov. Kathy Hochul

Gov. Kathy Hochul unveiled a $227 billion budget Wednesday that has something for everyone, and something almost everyone will dislike — especially the progressives who dominate the Democratic majorities in Albany.

The plan increases spending across the board but puts much of the $8 billion in unexpected tax revenue from the current year into reserves and tries to convince legislators that economic headwinds are likely to bring revenue growth to a halt.

Hochul proposes to bail out the Metropolitan Transportation Authority with an increase in payroll taxes paid by employers in the New York City commuter region (the city and suburbs that Metro-North and LIRR cover) and licensing fees to be paid by new gambling casinos in the city. She’s also demanding $500 million more per year from the city, while offering $300 million in new state aid.

She also urges raising the state’s minimum wage, currently $15 an hour in most of New York, by indexing it to inflation, and seeks to extend an expiring increase in corporate taxes for three years — but ignored proposals from progressive and tenant groups for big increases in state spending.

Acting Budget Director Sandra L. Beattie said caution is needed to deal with the grim forecast for the coming fiscal year, which begins April 1.

“Tax collections are expected to peak in the current year and fall in fiscal 2024, and we are harvesting the gains to prepare for the uncertainties ahead,” Beattie warned.

The entire budget includes both state revenues and federal aid, with state-funded programs increasing by 2.4%, or $327 million, from this year’s budget, and would be balanced.

It puts half the unexpected revenue increase into the state’s major reserve funds, and another $1 billion into a debt reserve fund. The rainy-day funds will reach 15% of spending in the next fiscal year — two years earlier than the governor had previously proposed.

At the same time, the budget reduces expected revenues for fiscal 2025-2027 by almost $20 billion, opening gaps in those future budgets to $22 billion. Leading fiscal experts warn of the risks of increased spending, as Hochul’s proposal goes to state lawmakers angling to increase spending.

“The governor’s proposal usually sets the floor in negotiations with the legislature,” said Andrew Rein, president of the nonprofit Citizens Budget Commission. “All New York State leaders should focus not just on today, but on protecting generations of New Yorkers from a future downturn and self-made fiscal crises arising from unaffordable spending or counter-productive taxes.”

The MTA bailout plan, designed to close an expected $3 billion budget deficit in 2025, illustrates the governor’s on-the-one-hand, on-the-other-hand-strategy.

Both the Riders Alliance and the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA hailed the governor’s proposals to boost transit funding. But while city Comptroller Brad Lander praised the tax increase and diversion of casino revenues, he also strongly objected to the request for an additional $500 million in city aid to the agency. 

Mayor Eric Adams said he intended to study the implications of the budget.

In an emailed statement, Adams said, “While we are reviewing the details of Governor Hochul’s budget proposal, it is clear that there are many victories worth celebrating, particularly in the areas of [addressing] serious mental illnesses, addressing our housing crisis, and strengthening the entire ecosystem of public safety.

“There are also areas of uncertainty that will require deeper review,” he said.