Friday, March 31, 2023

Queens winning in losing residents


NY Post

New York City is becoming the shriveled Apple.

Three of Gotham’s five boroughs saw some of the largest population declines in America last fiscal year, with only Manhattan bucking the post-COVID trend, according to US Census data released Thursday.

The population of Queens County plummeted by 50,112 residents in the 12 months ending July 1, 2022 — the third largest raw drop of any county in the US, behind only Los Angeles County (90,704) and Chicago’s Cook County (68,314).

Right behind Queens on the list of declines was Kings County (Brooklyn), which lost 46,970 residents over the same period, and Bronx County, where the population dropped by 41,143 residents.

Richmond County — also known as Staten Island — saw its population drop by just 2,351 residents over the same one-year period.

By contrast, Manhattan — which lost nearly 100,000 residents in 2021 — was the only borough that reversed its decline, with the population increasing by 17,472 residents in fiscal year 2022.

The increase is largely down to foreign and domestic migration.


Caption the Mayor and the NYPD Commissioner


Thursday, March 30, 2023

Noise annoys and kills

NY Daily News 

A string of deadly encounters that started with complaints over loud music or offensive noise highlights a growing problem across New York City: Complaints about noise have exploded since the pandemic.

Loud noise and music are common disturbances for New Yorkers — but the conflicts can turn deadly. At least four recent killings have been tied to disputes over noise, with the most recent episode involving a 27-year-old Bronx dad who was killed in a dispute over loud music with a neighbor last week.

The victim’s fiancée and mother of his two young children said they had made complaints to 311 and building management about the neighbor’s noise, but nothing changed. The couple had just put their 5-week-old infant to sleep when blasting loud music started to shake the walls of their apartment.

The victim got dressed, walked across the hall to confront the neighbor about the noise. As he walked away, the neighbor allegedly stabbed him in the back.

Tyquan Pleasant with his daughter Amiyah Pleasant.

There have been nearly 40,000 noise complaints called in to 311 this month, and roughly the same in the past few months, according to NYC Open Data. Noise complaints have boomed since the pandemic, with this year’s winter months seeing a roughly 40% rise in 311 noise complaints compared with the same time frame in 2019.

Arline Bronzaft, an environmental psychologist, said a variety of reasons may be to blame, including more time spent at home, working from home, outdoor dining, loud cars and helicopter noise.

“Noise can really drive people to be aggressive — have there been arguments? Yes. Are people pounding the ceilings until the noise comes down? Absolutely,” Bronzaft said.

“People react psychologically to sound that’s intrusive,” she said. “They get angry about the sound, they get upset. And then when you start showing those kinds of reactions, your heart beats faster, your pulse rate increases, circulation is altered.

“Psychologically, you’re stressed.”

“In New York City, neighbor noise is a serious problem, because we do have apartment buildings and people do live close to each other ... and things changed during COVID, when people started to work from home,” Bronzaft said.

Rachel Miller-Bradshaw, a board member of the Fordham Hill Owners Corp. and resident of City Council District 14, which logs among the highest numbers of 311 noise complaints in the city, said that she’s noticed more noise since the peak of COVID-19.

“It’s a major issue,” she said. “Every New Yorker, regardless of socioeconomic status or neighborhood you reside in, has a right to a serene living environment, at least outside of normal business hours, and after the pandemic things definitely did get worse.”

“It’s really declining the quality of life here,” Miller-Bradshaw added, noting that she knows people who’ve moved from the city because of noise.

Bragg indicts Trump

The NYPD is beefing up its presence as newly indicted former President Donald Trump is expected to surrender in New York on Tuesday, according to his lawyers.

Prosecutors with Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office — which filed an unprecedented indictment against Trump, 76, related to hush-money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels — wanted him arraigned Friday, sources said.

But Trump’s lawyers wouldn’t agree to that and instead, he’s expected to turn himself in Tuesday, his legal team said.

The ex-president will likely appear in court for his arraignment the same day, according his lawyers and a court administrator.

In a statement, Bragg said his office was in touch with Trump’s legal team on a surrender date.

“This evening we contacted Mr. Trump’s attorney to coordinate his surrender to the Manhattan DA’s Office for arraignment on a Supreme Court indictment, which remains under seal,” the statement said. “Guidance will be provided when the arraignment date is selected.”


Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Southeast Queens Communities open letter to YIMBY Hochul


 For decades, Southeast Queens has been held up as a model of the American Dream for those striving for a better life. Our communities in Southeast Queens have more than 220,000 residents claiming African American and Caribbean American heritage, many of whom themselves (or their parents and grandparents) left other denser parts of the city – often at greater cost and expense than most other ethnic groups in the city – to have some breathing room, own their own home, a backyard, grass and trees and to give their children a better life.

From Hillside Avenue to JFK Airport, Lefferts Blvd. to the Nassau County line, our mostly suburban neighborhoods have survived and thrived despite systemic racism and redlining. We cherish our low-density communities in Southeast Queens, and we have consistently defended our detached one-family zoning in places like Addisleigh Park, Cambria Heights, Hollis, Jamaica, Laurelton, Queens Village, Rosedale, St. Albans, South Ozone Park, and Springfield Gardens. Additionally, over 60% of our residents own their own homes, more than double the citywide average.

We want to be clear: we are united with all of our neighbors in Queens, Staten Island, the rest of New York City, the suburbs in Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester and beyond regardless of race, ethnicity or economic background who oppose the “Housing Compact” which, in our estimation, will be the equivalent of a nuclear bomb going off in our communities.

Having the Governor mandate more development in southeast Queens, increasing density by 500% within ½ mile of our LIRR stations, forcing increases in housing if we don’t do it ourselves by overriding local zoning, giving blanket amnesty to dangerous and deadly basement and cellar apartments – these are extinction level policies that will wipe out our neighborhoods, plain and simple. Most of our elected officials from southeast Queens understand this.

Some supporters of Gov. Hochul’s plan, such as Assemblywoman Emily Gallagher of Brooklyn have equated single-family zones with Jim Crow practices, and have deemed the governor's plan as necessary to achieve "racial justice." While historically that is true, it does not apply to our communities in Southeast Queens in 2023.

What we’ve achieved over the years is the ability to live the life we want, where we want and how we want.

The governor's plan, far from bringing "racial justice" to our black and brown communities in Southeast Queens and other areas, would bring devastation throughout our neighborhoods if implemented.

The financial and political gains that African Americans have made in our city, our suburbs and across the State – our top elected officials except for the Governor herself are African American in both the State and the City – all of this will be lost if the “Housing Compact” becomes law.

We are the civic leadership of Southeast Queens. We are Black and we are 100% opposed to Governor Hochul’s “Housing Compact” and the attempts to increase density exponentially in our communities. We hope that the Governor and Legislature are listening very carefully.


Addisleigh Park Civic Association
Alpha Street Civic Association
Brinkerhoff Action Association
Eastern Queens Alliance
Greater Triangle Civic Association
Queens Village Civic Association
St. Albans Civic Improvement Association
149th Street South Ozone Park Civic Association
221/222 Street Block Association
South Ozone Park Civic Association West
Sojourner Truth Democratic Club
United Coalition for Veterans & Community Rights (UCVCR)
United Neighbors Civic Association (UNCA)
Wayanda Civic Association

I'm going to leave this here too. This is a malignant thread from Manhattan Twitter, I mean Borough President Mark Levine that wants to destroy community boards as well so this housing compact can get rubber stamped and approved. Even though it still doesn't provide enough affordable housing for lower income working people.


Racist hacks into South Queens Education town hall zoom meeting




Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Dob employee with fake georgia temp plate parks front of queens borough hall daily

If you walk by borough hall on queens boulevard in queens, monday through friday during business hours you will see a white bmw with a fake temporary georgia plate and a department of buildings vest in the dashboard.
The temporary georgia plate is fake as the paper is not cardstock and printed from a printer, missing the georgia state seal sticker logo, some blurred ink printing and the color of the vehicle only the 1st letter should be capitalized not the whole word
The commanding officer of the 102 precinct and the queens borough president's chief of staff Michael Mallon were notified about this and several 311 complaints were made, but still this department of buildings employee is allowed to drive around with a fake plate, unregistered and uninspected vehicle and to make it worse put his department of buildings vest in the dashboard and park in front of a city building with it. 
How lovely that us hard-working law abiding taxpayers who pay exorbitant amounts to register and inspect our vehicles properly in new york are forced to observe this direct violation of the law in front of a city building where our Borough president's office is. Apparently the law only applies to non city employees.

Monday, March 27, 2023

Mayor Adams housing plan doesn't do windows 


Mayor Eric Adams wants to build a half million homes over the next decade, but that will be impossible without new tax incentives meant to spur housing development—and maybe even changes to current building codes to allow for single-room occupancy units, he said Monday.

With budget negotiations underway in Albany, Adams said state lawmakers risk compounding the housing crisis if they fail to take up a tax break similar to the expired, and controversial, 421a program, which waives most property taxes in exchange for some income-restricted housing .

“There is a complete drying up of the pipeline,” he said. “We can’t be so idealistic that we’re not realistic.”

Adams spoke with WNYC-Gothamist editor Josefa Velásquez about his “moonshot” housing plan during an event at the Greene Space — New York Public Radio’s live events venue — describing his approach to an issue that affects everyone in the city and that New Yorkers have shown they care deeply about.

In a citywide survey of 62,000 New Yorkers, a quarter of respondents listed building and preserving affordable housing as their top concern. Respondents also named affordable housing as the most effective intervention for improving public safety.

Adams said a new 421a is essential to meet that need. But progressive elected officials counter that the program has diverted revenue from the city and does not create homes that are actually priced for poor New Yorkers. And many housing activists say the mayor and governor’s housing plans rely on the notion of “trickle down” affordability without deep targets for the low-income New Yorkers most in need of places to live.

Adams dismissed the criticism of 421a and called it “crucial” for the future of the city.

He said locations in South Jamaica and the Rockaways are ripe for new housing development, and called for a more centralized strategy for targeting tax breaks.

“Being smart about where you want to do the incentives would allow us to get housing in the pipeline,” he said.

He also said some city laws need to be amended to allow for different types of housing, like single-room occupancy and dormitory-style units, especially when it comes to turning offices into apartments. New SRO construction has been illegal since the 1950s, and building codes mandate strict light and air requirements.

“Why can't we do a real examination of the rules that state every bedroom must have a window?" Adams said. “You know when you sleep it should be dark. Instead of doing that, have studio apartments with shared living and working spaces.”

Millions of residents across the five boroughs are feeling the impact of the current housing crisis, with median rents and the city’s shelter population both reaching record highs.

Caption Donovan Richards


Saturday, March 25, 2023

Homeowners resist Hochul's YIMBY decree

Many homeowners against Hochul plan 1

Queens Chronicle

Lawmakers, Eastern Queens civic leaders and homeowners were in Laurelton last week to rally against Gov. Hochul’s proposal to upzone and legalize accessory dwelling units to create more affordable housing in residential neighborhoods.

Many people were concerned about the character of their communities, which consist mostly of one- to -two family homes, changing to become a higher-density area like Long Island City.

The rally was held March 17 in front of the home of Bess de Betham of the Federated Blocks of Laurelton.

“Nearly 52 years ago I moved from Far Rockaway because I liked this neighborhood,” de Betham said at the event. “Why did I move to this neighborhood? Because it had one -and- two family homes and front and backyards. It has treelined streets and spaces between homes on each block. I have not felt crowded or overwhelmed by others living on that block.”

De Betham said that she is not against more affordable housing throughout the city and state, but her family has worked hard and she must protect the biggest investment of her life and of her neighbors’.

“We are here today to let the governor and our state elected officials know that we are not accepting the imposition of mandates of top-down change to the quality of life that we have worked so hard to preserve,” de Betham added. “I hope our elected officials are listening. The people are paying atteniton to not only how you feel on this Housing Compact, but how you will vote on this Housing Compact ... Welcome to my home.”

Hochul’s Housing Compact proposal for the fiscal year 2024 budget is to create 800,000 new homes over the next decade whether it is through new housing production or legalizing accessory dwellings like basement apartments, according to If passed, her proposal would expedite rezonings and give developers tax breaks to make at least 100,000 of the homes affordable.

Hochul said in a statement that the New York dream should be attainable for all who call the state their home and that the objective of the Housing Compact “is for families to stay in New York.”

Bill Perkins of the Rosedale Civic Association said that when homeowners learned about Hochul’s measure had to do their own research to fully understand the extent of the changes she was proposing.

“Many of our communities were downzoned,” Perkins said. “We saw what happened when density wasn’t controlled. It was unbridled and we weren’t prepared for it.”

Perkins said that if Hochul’s proposal were to go through that it would eliminate home rule, with communities being mandated to follow Albany’s growth targets.

“Whenever you have mandates that you are penalized by, that is not the right way to grow our communities,” the Rosedale civic member said. “We grow organically. We think about our growth. We are strategic about it.”

Along with the growth mandates, Perkins does not support amnesty for ADUs.

“About a year ago, nine people died in illegal basements because they could not get out of the basements,” he said, referring to the death toll in Queens from the remnants of Tropical Storm Ida. “You should feel it’s an indictment on you if you are a one- or two-family homeowner because that means it’s taking away ... the ability to be in the community you want to be in.”

Perkins said that Hochul’s bill is doing the opposite of keeping New Yorkers within the state because people like him and de Betham would be less likely to stay.

“We have to be together on this,” he added. “The vote on this is on April 1.”

Friday, March 24, 2023

Bad Don Juan Ardila is not going


Ten days after a series of bombshell allegations came out accusing Assemblyman Juan Ardila of sexually assaulting two women, one of the victims told amNY Metro that she is devastated that he has shown no signs of stepping down and that his actions represent a continued “abuse of power.”

Ardila, a first-term assemblyman who represents western Queens, has been silent since he issued a statement on March 14, one day after several local news outlets reported allegations that he had sexually assaulted two intoxicated women at a party in October 2015.

He said in that statement that he took “responsibility for my actions” and was “eager for a restorative justice-centered process.”

But not a word has been uttered by him since on the matter, despite calls from more than a dozen elected officials for him to resign. The officials include Gov. Kathy Hochul, State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Congressmembers Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Grace Meng, New York City Comptroller Brad Lander, and state Sens. Kristen Gonzalez, Julia Salazar and Mike Gianaris, Ass. Zohran Mamdani, Councilmembers Julie Won, Tiffany Caban, Robert Holden and many more.

One of the women who accused Ardila of sexual assault said his silence was in keeping with his character.

“Juan’s response to the accusations has shown me that little has changed between now and 2015,” she told amNY Metro. “Despite the evidence, Juan initially denied the allegations, and then reluctantly delivered a manufactured apology followed by radio silence.”

The woman, who called for him to resign last week, then went on to say: “It is clear that he does not care about the harm that he has inflicted on others, including his constituents who feel deceived and are calling for him to resign. Juan does not embody the level of integrity or honesty that should be expected from someone in his position. Just like that night in 2015, he continues to abuse power. He needs to resign.”

Ardila posted two tweets Wednesday night, the first communication he has had with constituents since his May 14 statement. Neither addressed the sexual assault allegations.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Mets owner closer to getting casino

The City

A state lawmaker introduced a bill Wednesday that would authorize New York City to build on the parking lot at Citi Field, which would help pave the way for redevelopment plans envisioned by Mets owner Steve Cohen that include a new casino.

The legislation introduced by Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry (D-Queens) calls for the parking lot to be developed for “a gaming facility and, in conjunction with such facility, commercial, retail, entertainment, recreational, hotel, convention, and or community facility uses,” according to the bill text.

Because the Citi Field lot is technically parkland, designated in 1939 as part of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, it requires state intervention to “alienate” it to facilitate construction. 

Aubry’s bill specifies that the land be discontinued as parkland “through the entering of leases or other agreements with New Green Willets, LLC, its affiliates, or any other entity or entities,” referencing the lobbying firm owned by Cohen. As part of what’s known as “park alienation,” the city would have to find at least 20 acres of replacement parkland or significantly improve other existing greenspace — paid for by the private developer, according to the legislation.

Cohen has pushed for redevelopment of the Citi Field parking lot, which is owned by the city and leased to the Mets, since shortly after buying the team for $2.4 billion in November 2020.

In the past few months he has hosted “visioning sessions” with locals and community leaders to get feedback on what Queens residents — and Mets fans across the city — would like to see in the area.

Aubry, who did not immediately respond to a call and text message seeking comment, previously told THE CITY that he had spoken many times with Cohen’s lobbying firm, New Green Willets, about their ideas for the parking lot. He said he was most concerned with creating jobs and recreational activities for his district, which includes Corona and East Elmhurst. 

“They have talked to me about it a number of times,” he told THE CITY in January. “The casino in my mind is important to them — not so important to me.” 

State Sen. Jessica Ramos, a Democrat who also represents the neighborhood, said she was blindsided by the legislation — a version of which she had planned on introducing.

“I was taken aback this morning, it was quite a surprise to see legislation submitted,” she told THE CITY, adding that any park alienation would require her sign-on in a jointly-introduced bill.

Ramos said she had not had the chance to read Aubry’s legislation yet.

“Not only do I have some reading to do but I also have some conversations to be had,” she added.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Lithium-ion battery explosion ruins Queens Man's life


Gabriel Dolores, a Mexican native and delivery worker residing in Corona, Queens, recently purchased a second-hand lithium-ion battery through Amazon in order to continue his job with Relay. It didn’t take long before disaster struck, and his life was forever altered.

With the help of a translator, Dolores recounted the fire that broke out at his home on the morning of March 17 when the battery burst as he recharged it, igniting flames in his home that left him homeless with burned, bubbled flesh.

According to FDNY sources, 60 firefighters and EMS personnel rushed to Dolores’ 96th Street residence in Corona, Queens at 6:34 a.m. While the fire was placed under control in under 30 minutes, he was whisked to Harlem Hospital with second degree burns.

“He is very sad because he lost everything. He lost his phone and he lost whatever he had in his room. His clothing, all of the important papers. He lost everything. Basically, right now he doesn’t even have underwear. It’s an unfortunate situation for him but he said he is grateful he is alive,” Jose Rodrigo Nevares Castilla said, a member of Dario De Los Delivery Boys, who helped provide translated details the dire situation.

E-bike fires have been tearing through New York City like a knife through hot butter, leaving destruction, charred apartments, and broken hearts in their wake.

It’s just the latest danger facing delivery workers in the Big Apple, who constantly deal with the threat of attempted bike robberies and traffic collisions in the sun, rain, and sleet. 

Resulting from relatively small Lithium-ion batteries, these power sources have a big impact on the lives of e-bike owners and their neighbors when these devices explode into fireballs. In a conversation with amNewYork Metro, Chief Fire Marshal Daniel Flynn said that the batteries can explode while both on and off charge. He also recommended owners only use batteries that are paired with its designated bike. 

Dolores’ injuries came just days before Mayor Eric Adams signed a new package of legislation into law aiming to combat the sale and distribution of second-hand lithium-ion batteries across the city.

Mayor Adams finally takes incremental action against lithium-ion batteries, partners with Con Ed for charging stations at public housing buildings

 Queens Chronicle

Two e-bike batteries exploded in the back of a Richmond Hill repair shop on Monday, starting a blaze that sent two firefighters to the hospital.

The batteries were charging in the back of The Kings Electric Scooters store, which is located at 102-44 Jamaica Ave. and leads out onto 87th Avenue, when they combusted around 2:30 p.m, officials believe.

Bab Chung, who owns an adjacent building, was out cleaning up debris this morning. Employees of the store were charging two batteries and they both exploded at same time, Chung told the Chronicle.

The FDNY received the call for reports of a fire in the e-bike store, which is located in a two-story, mixed occupancy building, and elevated it to a two-alarm fire about 20 minutes later. It was under control by 3:30 p.m., according to the agency.

Twenty-five units responded, including 106 fire and EMS responders. Two firefighters sustained minor injuries and were transported to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center. 

The flames roared through the first floor of the building and destroyed at least one residence. Carmen Charles, who lives above the store, told ABC 7 that she has “nowhere to go” and that everything is gone. 

“Another day, another major fire caused by lithium-ion batteries,” Councilwoman Joann Ariola (R-Ozone Park) wrote on Twitter. “It is well past the time to enforce common sense legislation regulat[ing] the sale of these batteries.”

Last week, the City Council introduced a bill that would regulate the batteries and enforce the regulations.

Earlier this month, top public safety officials met for a safety briefing and FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanagh addressed the ongoing dangers posed by the lithium-ion batteries that power the devices. Officials reported then that there were over 22 fires and 35 injuries so far this year.


While signing five bills designed to combat an ongoing scourge of fires linked to faulty batteries found in e-bikes and e-scooters, used by most delivery workers, Mayor Eric Adams on Monday released his own plan to combat the blazes.

During a news conference at City Hall on Monday morning, the mayor remarked on just how dangerous these battery-associated fires can be, as they spread faster than other fires and are harder to extinguish.

“They’re not just regular fires, they’re basically explosions and they spread so rapidly,” Adams said. “They spread so rapidly, and it [takes] more than just water to put them out. It’s a very complicated fire.”

The battery-linked infernos doubled between 2021 and 2022 — rising from 104 to 216 fires in one year — with injuries also doubling, and six people dying last year. They’ve already caused two deaths and 40 injuries in the first two months of this year, according to the mayor’s office.

The most notable Adam signed, which passed the council earlier this month, would ban the sale, lease or rental of e-bike and e-scooter batteries that fail to meet industry safety standards — chiefly standard 2771 established by Underwriters Laboratories.

The mayor also signed legislation requiring the FDNY and the city Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) to develop a public information campaign on e-bike and scooter battery safety, directing both agencies to provide materials on the safe storage of the batteries and for FDNY to annually report on fires connected to the power cells.

“We need to make sure that products sold in our city are safe for New Yorkers,” said Council Member Oswald Feliz (D-Bronx), who sponsored the bill banning the sale of unregulated batteries and whose district was home to the massive Twin Parks fire that killed 17 people last year.

“We were proud to work on a very thorough package of fire safety legislation, including legislation that will require that these batteries be certified in order to be sold,” he added. “Requiring these batteries go through fire safety checks, to make sure that they have tools that prevent overheating, overcharging and other things that we’ve seen cause fires.”

Con Edison and the New York City Housing Authority will place chargers and storage for e-bikes and e-scooters at NYCHA developments to see how much riders like the concept.

The chargers and secure storage areas will be at four developments in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn under the demonstration project that Mayor Eric Adams announced today.

The project will test whether the use of e-bikes and e-scooters would increase if New Yorkers had suitable charging and storage. Increasing the use of these devices would reduce reliance on fossil fuel-powered transportation, meaning cleaner air and safer streets.

The partners also want to determine whether providing safe, secure charging and storage outdoors would reduce indoor charging, which can be dangerous.

It’s also a test of a business model. Con Edison will gather information from the chargers to see how many unique riders use them, how long riders use the chargers and the times of day when riders charge. In addition, the company will determine the amount of carbon that would been emitted if the users had driven passenger cars instead of their micromobility devices. 

“As electric bikes and scooters grow in popularity, we want to explore ways to ensure that New Yorkers have access to safe, convenient charging and secure storage,” said Raghu Sudhakara, vice president, Distributed Resource Integration, for Con Edison. “Making micromobility safer and easier will be a plus for the many hard-working people who earn their living delivering food to our homes and businesses. Our demonstration project with NYCHA will provide us with information on how we can support these forms of transportation, which provide environmental benefits, convenience and enjoyment when used safely.”

“The safety of NYCHA residents is our chief priority and central to the work we do every day,” said NYCHA Interim CEO Lisa Bova-Hiatt. “We are pleased to partner with Con Edison on this pilot program, which will provide NYCHA residents with a safe outdoor charging and storage alternative, while supporting the growth of this sustainable mode of transportation." 

The first chargers and storage areas will be at these NYCHA developments: Queensbridge North and South in Queens, De Hostos in Manhattan, and Van Dyke I in Brooklyn. The parties hope to begin the demonstration project by the end of this year.

Con Edison has posted a request for information, a step toward finding a vendor to provide and operate the chargers once they are installed. Con Edison and the chosen vendor will visit the NYCHA developments and determine how many chargers to place at each site.

The goal is to provide chargers that will accommodate all e-bikes and e-scooters, regardless of the manufacturer.

Along with environmental benefits, micromobility devices contribute to urban quality of life in other ways. They are quiet and reduce traffic congestion.

Electric micromobility devices are an affordable alternative to cars for low-income New Yorkers, many of whom have jobs delivering food or other goods to customers throughout the city. But food delivery app companies usually do not provide workers with transportation devices.

That has resulted in many workers using their own devices to make deliveries to New Yorkers and charging those devices in their apartments.

Con Edison and the chosen vendor will seek charging locations that are away from residences. The locations will be designated in accordance with Fire Department of New York guidelines for safety.

Con Edison urges anyone using a lithium ion battery to make sure the battery has been certified by UL or another safety testing lab, comply with FDNY safety rules, use only charging cables that the manufacturer recommends, and stop using a battery that is damaged. The FDNY offers these and other safety tips. The National Fire Protection Association also offers safety advice for lithium ion batteries.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

MTA B13 reroute makes a transit desert on purpose


A Glendale resident voiced her concern about the MTA’s proposed Brooklyn Bus Redesign that would impact the B13 route that runs through Queens during last week’s Community Board 5 (CB 5) meeting at Christ the King High School in Middle Village.

During the meeting, a letter from Glendale resident Deloris Bachmann was read in which she stated that the proposed changes along the B13 line would make it harder for her and other senior citizens who use that line to go anywhere. 

“This is a hardship for the many senior citizens and handicapped people who live in my neighborhood, not to mention an inconvenience in bad weather,” Bachmann said in the letter. “Without reliable bus service, how will be able to shop, visit doctors, go to Wyckoff Heights [Medical Center], visit friends, go to church or the library?”

The MTA revealed their Brooklyn Bus Network Redesign back in December that proposed the B13 reroute to the Ridgewood Reservoir and Cypress Avenue, which would eliminate stops along Cooper Avenue, Fresh Road Pond Road and Gates Avenue. 

“Queens is already a transit desert — why create another?” Bachmann said in her letter. “This plan may look good on paper, but the MTA has not considered the welfare of those who live along that line.”

CB 5 has reached out to the MTA in the past regarding the MTA Brooklyn Bus Network Redesign and getting reliable bus service to the Ridgewood Reservoir. In their letter to the MTA, CB 5 stated that the residents will be negatively affected by the proposed changes.

“The currently proposed B13 Bus route change is very likely to negatively affect bus riders in parts of Ridgewood and Glendale, Queens, who would, if the plan is adopted, lose helpful transit links to areas north and south of where they live,” the letter read.

CB 5 District Manager Gary Giordano told QNS that MTA needs to find a solution that would benefit both parties.

“They gotta find a way,” Giordano said.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Juan Ardila admits sexual assaults; victim/constituent and AOC demand his resignation


 Queens Post

Freshman Assemblyman Juan Ardila, who represents western Queens, faced political fallout Tuesday after being accused of sexual assault by two women—allegations that the lawmaker did not refute when asked for comment.

Ardila, who first took office in January after winning a vacant 37th District assembly seat last year, allegedly targeted two women at a party in October 2015. The party took place inside a Manhattan apartment and was attended by Fordham University students and alumni.

One of the victims, who reached out to Queens Post and requested anonymity, said that Ardila “got physical” with her – and was “touching her” — while she was drunk on a couch at the party. The woman, who was 21 at the time, said Ardila then tried to drag her into the bathroom before a friend intervened.

Meanwhile, another woman that night provided a statement saying that Ardila pulled her into the bathroom a short time later, before exposing himself and then groping her. The woman allegedly then ran out of the bathroom.

The women were both seniors at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus at the time of the party. Ardila had graduated from the university in the spring and had just started working for Brad Lander, who was a councilmember at the time. Neither woman had ever spoken to Ardila prior to the night of the party.

Ardila, who was endorsed by progressives such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and State Sen. Jessica Ramos in his race last year, issued a statement late last night expressing regret for his actions. The statement came shortly after he told the Queens Chronicle that he had no knowledge of the alleged incidents.

“I apologize for my behavior,” Ardila said in his statement. “I have spent time reflecting and I hope to prove that I have matured since college. I’m committed to learning from this and I am able to demonstrate my own personal growth.”

But the victim who contacted Queens Post wasn’t buying Ardila’s statement after it was read to her.

“I find Juan’s statement to be deeply troubling and dismissive of the harm he has caused me and others. His apology—which comes on the heels of his initial denial—rings insincere,” she said. “He blames the assault on youthful indiscretion during college (although he had graduated at the time of the incident) and I find this both dismissive and insulting. Sexual assault is a serious crime, and it is not something that can be excused or explained away by age or circumstances.”

The woman, who moved to Long Island City last month, said that she only decided to go public with her ordeal when she discovered that Ardila was an assemblymember—and the one who represented her area.

“The public deserves to know about his past,” she said, noting that she has reached out to several local news outlets about the incident.

Queens Post

While Queens Assemblyman Juan Ardila acknowledged and apologized for sexually assaulting two women at a party in 2015, one of his alleged victims now demands that he step down.

“I am calling for Juan Ardila to resign as an Assembly member and would like to see the organizations and elected officials who have publicly supported Juan retract their support,” the woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, told Queens Post Tuesday afternoon.  

Some elected officials and community leaders called for an investigation into Ardila, while others demanded his resignation and asked those who previously endorsed him to withdraw their support.

These announcements come one day after news broke that Ardila allegedly sexually assaulted two women at a Manhattan party held by Fordham University students nearly eight years ago. One victim said he inappropriately touched her and tried to lead her into the bathroom before a friend intervened, while another said he groped her. Both requested to be anonymous.

Ardila, who issued an apology following the allegations, was elected last year to represent the 37th assembly district covering western Queens, taking over a seat that was left vacant by Cathy Nolan.

Among those who endorsed Ardila during his campaign last year were Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez; Comptroller Brad Lander; Public Advocate Jumaane Williams; Queens Borough President Donovan Richards; state Senators Michael Gianaris and Jessica Ramos; Council member Tiffany Cabán, the Working Families Party and many others.

Councilman Robert Holden, a former opponent of Ardila’s when campaigning for City Council in 2021, was the first elected leader to come out today to demand his resignation. He also called on those who had endorsed him to retract them.

“Juan Ardila’s record of racism, xenophobia, homophobia, antisemitism, reckless driving, and now sexual assault has disqualified him from office,” Holden said in a statement. “His actions are reprehensible and unacceptable, and they should be disavowed at all costs by elected officials, like [Queens Borough President] Donovan Richards, unions, and other groups. Sexual assault must never be tolerated.”

Richards responded, saying the allegations against Ardila are “deeply troubling and require a full and thorough investigation.”

“If these disturbing accusations against him are found to be true, Assemblymember Ardila should resign,” Richards said in a statement to Queens Post. “Trust in government cannot be possible without accountability from all who have been elected to lead our communities.”

A spokesperson for U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told Queens Post the congresswoman believes Ardila should step down.

“We will be withdrawing his Courage to Change PAC endorsement, which was issued for his 2022 campaign,” the spokesperson said.

Monday, March 13, 2023

Bad Don Juan 

Queens Eagle

Queens Assemblymember Juan Ardila has been accused by two women of sexual assault during a 2015 party shortly after he had graduated college.

The two women, who both attended Fordham University at Lincoln Center at the same time as Ardila, allege that at a party in October of 2015, the current assemblymember for Long Island City, Sunnyside, Maspeth and Ridgewood, but at the time a recent graduate of the school, sexually harassed one of them and attempted to pull her into a bathroom, then later in the night pulled another woman into the bathroom and assaulted her. 

The first victim, who reached out to the Eagle and also spoke to the Queens Chronicle on the condition of anonymity, alleges that while she was drunk, Ardila attempted to pull her into a bathroom before a friend intervened. 

The first victim was also sent a communication from the second victim in which the second victim claims Ardila pulled her into the bathroom and forcibly kissed her and removed his pants.

The first victim, who was 21-years-old at the time, said the night of the party she was heavily intoxicated. Ardila was allegedly also at the party and had previously had no interactions with the first victim. 

The first victim said she remembers sitting on the couch next to Ardila, and remembers him being “very close” to her and “touchy.”

“I was the most intoxicated person there,” she recalled.

“But I do remember being on the couch, in the living room kind of away from everyone else, with Juan and it was towards the very end of the night, so people were starting to leave and the party didn't feel as crowded,” she added. “I remember he and I were close to each other, and he started getting physical with me.” 

At that point, she said her memory cuts out. Her friend, who also wished to remain anonymous, says she saw Ardila pulling the first victim into the bathroom, and decided to intervene.  

“They crossed paths with me and I saw [the first victim] way beyond the ability to consent,” the friend told the Eagle. “So, I interceded and I just grabbed her arm and I said, like, ‘No, she's drunk,’ and that was the end of it.” 

The second victim declined to speak to the Eagle.

However, she shared an account of her experience via text message to the first victim after the first victim informed her that she’d be reaching out to the press. The text was shared with the Eagle. 

“It happened towards the end of the night,” the second victim’s message said. “As far as I can recall [Ardila and I] had exactly zero conversation. It’s possible we were introduced because we’d never formally met before but I don’t remember that.”

“We were standing in a group by the door when [Ardila] said come here, and pulled me into the bathroom,” the text continued. “What felt like 0.2 seconds later we were in the bathroom with the door closed and he was kissing me. When I realized what was happening I pulled away, looked down, and he’d already taken his penis out and was stroking himself.” 

She said she bolted out of the bathroom and immediately told her friends what had happened. 

According to the text, Ardila then left the party. 

Friday, March 10, 2023

Flushing illegal vendors making streets more unwalkable and less joyful 


Councilwoman Sandra Ung on Wednesday, March 8, announced a petition calling on the city to enforce existing street vending regulations, including the no-vending zone that went into effect in 2018, to address the proliferation of unlicensed street vendors in downtown Flushing. 

The councilwoman was joined by Dian Yu, executive director of the Flushing Business Improvement District (BID), and concerned community members for a press conference near the Flushing LIRR Station on Main Street and Kissena Boulevard, where some vendors sell vegetables, fruits and clothing. 

“I am encouraging everyone who is frustrated like us to sign this petition and show the city that people who live, work and visit here, support enforcement of the no vending zone and want our sidewalks to return back to the pedestrians they’re intended for,” Ung said.

The current density of street vendors has created a risk to public safety. The petition drive comes ahead of an interagency meeting Ung will host next week to discuss the issue.

“It’s one of the busiest commercial corridors in the five boroughs and home to the third busiest intersection in the city,” Ung said. “And let me be clear, our goal is not to prevent people from making a living or providing for their families; however, in the absence of enforcement, the current situation in downtown Flushing has become untenable.”

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Innovation QNS is getting a luxury public housing tower neighbor

Queens Post

The two developers behind a 354-unit residential building in Astoria have secured a loan to finish constructing the project.

The developers, Silverstein Properties and Cantor Fitzgerald, announced Wednesday, March 1, that the joint venture arranged a loan of $165 million from Banco Inbursa — a financial firm based in Mexico — to complete the project at 44-01 Northern Blvd.

The project, which broke ground last year, will bring a mix of one and two-bedroom units — 25 percent of which will be deemed as “affordable.”

The development will also include 25,000 square feet of retail space facing Northern Boulevard and 200 parking lots.

The building is scheduled to open in the spring of 2024, the developers said.

Chris Milner, the head of real estate investment management at Cantor Fitzgerald, said securing the loan was important, given the current economic climate.

“In an environment of cautious construction lending and inflation hikes increasing the cost of debt, making it more expensive to borrow money, we appreciate Banco Inbursa’s recognition of the strength of the Cantor Fitzgerald and Silverstein partnership and the quality of this asset,” Milner said. “We are thrilled to have completed this transaction and to move forward with the construction of 44-01 Northern Boulevard.”

Monday, March 6, 2023

Poverty pimping sister act,1024&quality=75&strip=all 

NY Post

Providing shelter is a family affair at the city Department of Homeless Services.

The firm of Homeless Service Administrator Joslyn Carter’s sister has been awarded 17 contracts with the agency valued at a staggering $1.7 billion, according to data compiled by city Comptroller Brad Lander’s office.

Carter’s sister, Valerie Smith, is vice president of New York City Housing programs for Yonkers-based Westhab Inc., which runs homeless shelters in the city.

She has been a top administrator there since 2017.

Seventeen of the social services contracts were awarded by DHS, many in recent years with Smith working at the agency as the city grapples with a record homeless population fueled by a massive influx of migrants from the southern border.

Three others were awarded by the Department of Youth and Community Development and two by the Department of Education, totaling $4.7 million.

Councilman Robert Holden (D-Queens) demanded an investigation by the Department of Investigation and Conflicts of Interest Board after hearing of the unusual sibling relationship involving the city homeless services honcho and a top contractor awarded business with the agency.

Holden griped numerous times about problems at a shelter for 180 single men run by Westhab on Cooper Avenue in Glendale in his district — including complaints of drug use, violence, masturbating in public and menacing neighbors — some of which were exposed in a CBS report last September.

He suspected something was amiss when he said he failed to get an adequate response from Westhab or the city homeless officials.

“The whole thing stinks to high heaven. Why is Westhab getting all this money?,” Holden said Sunday. “It looks like they have someone on the inside. They’re protected.”

“They’re not doing a good job at the shelter on Cooper Avenue. It’s a mess over there.”

In a Feb. 8 letter to DOI and COIB, Holden said, “I recently learned from a credible source that the Department of Homeless Services Administrator Joslyn Carter is the sister of Westhab’s Vice President of New York City Shelter Programs, Valerie Smith. I am concerned that immediate family members can work on the same contract despite a potential conflict of interest.”

He told the investigative and ethics agencies that there have been 1,500 calls to 911 for the shelter and 156 resident arrests.

“As you know, corruption and criminal acts often occur in the social service industry.

Saturday, March 4, 2023

The LIRR's Ides Of March

NY Post

The MTA was warned a decade ago that the Long Island Rail Road’s Jamaica hub would be overwhelmed and face frequent commute meltdowns — like the ones commuters have been forced to endure all week, The Post has learned.

The dire prediction came in an analysis of the Jamaica, Queens station’s capacity, completed in 2012, that simulated service changes nearly identical to the one launched by the MTA this week to its new $11 billion terminal on the East Side of Manhattan and found it would overwhelm operations at the station.

“Evaluation of the new operation on the existing conditions indicates an inability of the current infrastructure to accommodate the higher volume of service during the morning peak period and evening westbound direction due to cascading delays,” the analysis determined.

The simulation showed trains arriving into Jamaica on-time 93% of the time under the then-current runs, even when encountering routine service disruptions, like a medical emergency on a platform or a mechanical problem with a train.

But the on-time percentage with the new service plummeted to just 72%, a 21% point drop, the analysis prepared by San Diego-based TranSystems Corporation determined.

The prophetic study found that the operational collapse occurred even if the MTA simplified the Jamaica operation by axing one-seat service from Long Island to Brooklyn and instead ran a shuttle to Atlantic Terminal — and even if officials axed timed transfers to boost station capacity by reducing the amount of time trains spend parked at the platforms.

A key fix, the analysis determined, was to replace the low-speed switches that run through Jamaica Station — which limit trains to just 15 mph — with more modern systems that allow trains to run at 30 mph or faster.

MTA officials approved spending $85 million to do just that in 2020 — some eight years after the engineering report was completed. That project is not expected to be completed until December 2027.

It does not appear that the MTA ever made the analysis public, but it was heavily excerpted in an academic article that the firm subsequently prepared, which was published in 2014.


Civics unite against Kathy Hochul's YIMBY housing doctrine

Queens Chronicle

A pitched battle against Gov. Hochul’s sweeping new housing plan for New York is starting to pick up momentum in Eastern Queens.

More than 150 homeowners from widely disparate neighborhoods packed a meeting room in Douglaston last Friday for a forum that featured civic leaders vowing to stop her controversial proposal for building 800,000 new units in the state to fix the region’s chronic housing shortage.

Civic leaders from Cambria Heights, South Jamaica and Addisleigh Park spoke alongside community activists from Whitestone, Bayside and Broadway-Flushing against the plan that would allow Albany to upscale local zoning laws without local consent.

The meeting was an unusual display of unity between racially different neighborhoods in Northeast and Southeast Queens — and a warning to the governor that single-family homeowners in the city were ready to join forces with communities on Long Island and Westchester to oppose the sweeping plan.

“We moved to our communities because we wanted a certain quality of life for our families,” Bill Perkins of the Rosedale Civic Association told the forum.

“It’s not a race thing,” he said. “It’s not a where-you-live thing.”

Under the new proposal introduced last month in Albany, the state would, among other things, require every town and county in the state to build 3 percent more housing stock every three years or face fines and to rezone a half-mile radius around every MTA train and subway station in the region for greater density.

Those mandates would also include legalizing basement apartments and small, backyard houses (called accessory dwelling units or ADUs) where they are currently prohibited.

The goal of the plan is to create more affordable housing by requiring areas traditionally reserved for low-density, one-family homes to drop longtime restrictions against the construction of apartment houses and other multifamily dwellings.

“When I drive around Jamaica and think about it, I wonder, where are these apartment buildings going to go?” said the Rev. Carlene Thorbs, chair of Community Board 12 (who emphasized she was speaking on her own behalf and not for the board).

“We have a front yard, we have a backyard, we have a driveway,” she said. “This is how we want our communities to stay.”

The governor’s Housing Compact has been met with hostility from the nearby suburbs of New York City, as well. Civic leaders from Nassau and Yonkers attended the event to pick up support for resisting the plan one called “worse than what you think.”

“The conversation we always hear is that ... ‘Oh, it’s affordable housing,” said Thorbs. “No, it is not,” she said. “Not when a studio is $1,700.”

Baked Astoria\

Queens Chronicle

The Astoria Pool is undergoing a major reconstruction project that will keep it closed all this upcoming season, while the Parks Department’s goal is to have the work done in time to reopen it for summer 2024.

The $19 milllion project will see the entire pool shell replaced, along with the gutter and deck; the installation of new systems for filtration and recirculation, backwash and chemical treatment; upgrades to the electrical and heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system; and work to address leaks in the filter room and tunnel.

“We never close amenities unless absolutely necessary,” a statement from the Parks Department said, “and unfortunately, Astoria Pool will be closed this summer for needed repairs to the pool tub and mechanical systems — at nearly 100 years old, many of the pool’s features have reached the end of their service life.

“Fortunately, the recently renovated spray showers adjacent to the pool will remain open during construction, so there will still be a great option for families to cool off on those hot summer days.

“We know this historic pool is a beloved neighborhood amenity, and these repairs will help to ensure that this 87 year old icon continues to serve future generations of New Yorkers.”

The Old Astoria Neighborhood Association supports the pool’s reconstruction, which will be topic No. 1 at its next online meeting, set for 6:30 p.m. March 8.

“The upcoming restoration of the Astoria Park Pool is an inconvenient, but necessary project,” OANA President Richard Khuzami said in an email. “Nothing is more essential than a renewed pool tub and mechanical systems to insure the long life of this essential community asset.

“We do call upon the Parks Department to make all efforts to limit the closure to one season. Two seasons would place an unacceptable burden on our community.”

The civic also wants the city to study either providing transportation for area residents to alternative sites, such as other city pools, or reimbursing them for fare payments to get there.

City Councilwoman Tiffany Cabán (D-Astoria) also had a request for the administration while the work goes on.

“The Astoria Pool is a vital community resource that contributes immeasurably to our neighborhood’s health and safety,” Cabán said in an email sent by her office. “Of course, we are delighted that the pool is being upgraded. Unfortunately, District 22 ranks second-to-last in percentage of residents who live within walking distance of a park (just 59.2%), so we’re requesting that the City work with us to expand programming, convert space, etc. while the pool is under construction.

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Ridgewood landlords capitalize on obscure city law to raise rents!/format/webp/quality/90/?


The number of rent-stabilized apartments registered in Ridgewood, Queens, has plummeted — and a loophole in New York’s rent regulations may help explain why.

An analysis by THE CITY shows that the number of rent-stabilized units registered in the increasingly trendy neighborhood plunged from 6,228 in 2019 to just 2,149 in 2021 — a decline of more than 65%, compared to a roughly 10% decline citywide.

The sharp drop happened even though a June 2019 law prohibited moving apartments out of the state’s rent regulation system, with few exceptions.

One of those exceptions is called “substantial rehabilitation,” and tenant advocates say they see signs that landlords are angling to use it to remove entire buildings in Ridgewood from regulation and sharply hike up rents — by claiming the buildings were dilapidated and then undertaking extensive reconstruction.

“Just by walking around Ridgewood, you’ll go from block to block, and on every block, there’s a…building that has a new façade and it’s totally renovated,” said Raquel Namuche, a volunteer tenant organizer with the Ridgewood Tenants Union.

A three-story, six-unit walk-up building at 1819 Grove St. is one area property that appears to have undergone a rehab inside and out, with a group of new tenants who moved in earlier this year. As recently as 2019, its owner reported six regulated apartments in the building. Now it reports none — and a refurbished apartment in the 93-year-old-building is now being offered on Streeteasy for $3,300 a month.

In Ridgewood, just north of Bushwick, the median sale price for residential real estate — which includes condos, co-ops and one- to three-family buildings —  has almost tripled in the last decade, going from $390,000 in 2012 to $1.09 million in 2022, according to Jonathan Miller, president and CEO of real estate appraisal and consulting firm Miller Samuel Inc. 

That’s benefitted property sellers and landlords, Miller said, as rents in Queens have hit an all-time high thanks in part to what he called “the global phenomenon of Brooklyn spillover into Queens.”

Restaurant shanties will only be a spring/summer thing

Crains New York

With spring rapidly approaching, talks are ongoing between the City Council, Mayor Eric Adams’ administration and the restaurant industry. It seems increasingly likely that the bill will create a seasonal program that would require owners to dismantle their curbside setups each fall, two council sources said Monday.

It could look much like the April-to-November program outlined last year in an initial council bill. The measure has stalled for months amid uncertainty over how new dining structures would be designed and which agency would supervise them.

It’s unclear how well a seasonal version will sit with restaurant owners, many of whom spent tens of thousands of dollars to build dining sheds and might not have the money or storage space to take them down each fall.

“Where are we supposed to store these things?” wondered Patrick Fromuth, an employee at Branded Saloon in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. Fromuth helped construct the bar’s elaborate, colorful streetside dining structure, which Grub Street called a work of art.

“How are we supposed to fight back in the warmer months to get the cars out of the way, to redo it?” he said.

As Streetsblog reported Monday, the latest proposal could keep outdoor dining under the auspices of the Department of Transportation, which has led the program throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, rather than shift it to the smaller Department of Consumer and Worker Protection, as last year’s bill had called for.

Outdoor dining has remade the city’s streetscape and has served as a lifeline for thousands of restaurants during the pandemic, allowing them to expand seating onto the sidewalk and into the street during a time when many New Yorkers were reluctant to eat indoors.

But it also saddled some streets with unsightly plywood sheds that sat largely empty during the colder months, and it prompted lawsuits from residents who claimed the sheds fostered noise and sanitation issues.

The existing bill, introduced by Marjorie Velázquez of the Bronx, would allow so-called roadway cafés—tables and chairs in the curb lanes or parking lanes of city streets—to be up and running from April 1 through Oct. 31.

Sidewalk cafés, by contrast, could stay open year-round under Velázquez’s bill and would be similar to those that existed before the pandemic. Restaurateurs would need to get separate two-year licenses for each type of setup, paying $255 for a curbside café and between $225 and $510 for sidewalk seating.

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Civic activist demands return to CB5 for being right about the COVID-19 lab leak,683&quality=75&strip=all

NY Post

A member of a New York City community board ousted for referring to COVID-19 as the “Wu-Flu” in a January meeting is demanding he be reinstated — saying he’s been “vindicated” by a classified US intelligence report that said the deadly virus most likely leaked from a lab in Wuhan, China.

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards removed longtime Glendale community activist and CB5 member Richard Huber after fielding complaints that the “Wu-Flu” comment was anti-Asian and racist and violated the code of conduct for board members.

“I was cancelled,” Huber told The Post Monday.

“But I have been vindicated. Just look at the front page of the NY Post.”

The Post’s front page story highlighted the US Energy Department claim, as the FBI had previously, that the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed more than 1 million Americans and 6.8 million people worldwide likely originated in a Wuhan lab.

He said friends texted him The Post cover with smiley faces.

Huber said his use of the shorthand for Wuhan was not anti-Asian — nor was it intended to be.

Oh, God!

NY Daily News

Mayor Adams on Tuesday dismissed the notion that there should be a separation between church and state in American society, drawing ire from fellow Democrats and civil rights advocates who contended his line of argument runs counter to deep-rooted U.S. values.

Adams, who’s Christian, has over the course of his political career spoken extensively about how important faith is in civic life and said as recently as last February that “God” told him to become mayor.

But his comments Tuesday morning, delivered at an interfaith breakfast at the New York Public Library’s central branch in Manhattan, took it a step further.

The tone was set by Ingrid Lewis-Martin, Adams’ chief adviser in City Hall, who introduced him at the event by declaring that the mayor’s administration “does not believe” it must “separate church from state.”

“Ingrid was so right,” Adams said once he took the stage. “Don’t tell me about no separation of church and state. State is the body, church is the heart. You take the heart out of the body, the body dies. I can’t separate my beliefs because I’m an elected official.”

He added: “When I walk, I walk with God, when I talk, I talk with God. When I put policies in place, I put them in with a God-like approach to them — that’s who I am.”

Adams’ comments appeared at odds with the establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.

The clause holds that the U.S. shall make no laws “respecting an establishment of religion,” a principle derived from the teachings of former President Thomas Jefferson, who wrote that there must be “a wall of separation between church and state” in society.

Later Tuesday, Adams spokesman Fabien Levy said the mayor isn’t pushing for upending any U.S. laws or principles. Levy also noted that Adams delivered the remarks in front of “hundreds of representatives from a multitude of religions.”

“While everyone in the room immediately understood what the mayor meant, it’s unfortunate that some have immediately attempted to hijack the narrative in an effort to misrepresent the mayor’s comments,” Levy said.