Monday, December 18, 2017

How did they ever come up with that?

Headline of the year courtesy of the Queens Chronicle.

The grudge continues

From the Times Ledger:

In late November, Democratic Party leaders sent IDC members an ultimatum calling for reunification of the party through a coalition to claim two seats up for special elections outside of Queens or face primary challenges, which would affect state Sens. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) and Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and six other members of the committee.

Comrie claimed a Democratic coalition was unrealistic considering his dealings with Avella, who he said has never tried to work with other Democrats in the state Senate, despite his own efforts to maintain a working relationship.

“I’ve tried to work with him over the years, but he is not interested in working with us in any way, shape or form,” Comrie said. “He is the singular most selfish person that I have ever met... This is beyond his desire to work collectively because I don’t think he’s interested in working collectively with anybody. He sees himself as an independent warrior, as his own soldier to go and rally against the things he feels are unjust and he will do whatever he can to step on whoever he wants to make that happen.”

The Hillcrest Jewish Center where the forum was held is in Avella’s district. Most of the criticism was directed against him.

But Avella struck back in a later statement at the accusations from IDC detractors, saying Empire State Indivisible and similar groups perpetuate the same “distortion” of facts they claim to oppose from the Trump administration.

“Obviously I like to work with people. Otherwise how would I get 49 bills past the Senate?” Avella said. “What I have a problem with are politicians who are working against the public good... If [Comrie] follows the political adage ‘going along to get along’... If he believes in that adage, well then shame on him. I don’t.”

Avella said Comrie had ignited conflict by introducing a bill to allow a Sephardic temple in Fresh Meadows with safety violations, and owned by Avi Dishi who was once on the 100 worst landords list, to file for a tax exemption. Avella declined to back the bill because the people conducting worship did not own the property and there were safety concerns.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Woodhaven's paving problem

From CBS 2:

Officials said the main reason paving over your yard is banned is so residential areas have green space.

Residents said another reason for the zoning change is so there would be proper drainage after a rain fall — preventing water from flowing from a driveway into the street.

A problem because although some of the converted driveways aren’t eliminating curbs, they are limiting parking.

Homeowners posted ‘no parking’ signs so people won’t block their illegal driveways.

Forest Hills empty storefronts are bad news

From CBS 2:

There are many empty storefronts in the main shopping district in Forest Hills, Queens. They stand out like the empty space left when a tooth has been pulled, and business owners say it hurts just as much.

A staggering increase in the number of vacant storefronts is the city’s latest economic crisis, with many wondering why nothing has been done. According to a new report by the City Council, 600,000 people are employed by small retail businesses and restaurants in the city.

This made a City Council hearing on vacant storefronts all the more disheartening, Kramer reported. Members of the De Blasio administration were unable to tell Councilman Dan Garodnick and others what’s going on and what they’re doing about it.

Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz, who represents Forest Hills, says the city has to do something.

“We have to look at each neighborhood to see what is going on, and why is this happening, and also have conversations with the landlords,” she said.

Meanwhile, two state lawmakers are taking action, introducing legislation to create a property tax exemption for landlords who offer mom and pop stores a long-term lease with fair increase to help them stay in business.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

One's out, one's back for another term, both were absent

In debt up to our eyeballs

From the Observer:

New York State has the second-highest debt total in the United States, and it’s expected to grow in the coming years, according to state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

New York’s state-funded debt is expected to reach $63.7 billion at the end of the current fiscal year and increase over the following four years to $71.8 billion, according to a report released by DiNapoli on Thursday morning. New York’s current total state debt is second only to California’s, which is at $87 billion.

The average amount of debt for every man, woman and child in the state is $3,116, three times the median for all states, the report found. And the annual debt service payments — the amount of money needed to reimburse debts over a period of time — are projected to surpass $8.2 billion by the end of state fiscal year 2021-2022.

Friday, December 15, 2017

December CB7 meeting scheduled

From the Queens Chronicle:

A post from last Tuesday on the blog Queens Crap pointed to how even though December is not listed as an exception to the charter rule, Community Board 7 did not have its regular meeting with a public hearing during that month last year or the one before.

Although the agenda for November’s CB 7 full board meeting said the next one would be in January, the advisory council has set up a meeting for Dec. 18.

Board Chairman Gene Kelty told the Chronicle that though the board did not have a full meeting last December or the one before, the members weren’t ignoring any major issues in the district.

“If we didn’t have a meeting then it meant that we really didn’t have anything on our agenda,” he told the Chronicle.

“All I know is we’re in compliance this year and we’ll be in compliance in the future,” the chairman added.

Now you can put the RKO on your agenda.

Development of RKO Keith's not happening anytime soon

From the Real Deal:

When Xinyuan Real Estate paid $54 million for a Williamsburg development site in 2012 with plans to build a luxury condominium, the project was heralded as the first go-it-alone venture by a mainland Chinese firm. Two more deals — including last summer’s $66 million acquisition of the RKO Keith’s Theater in Flushing — gave the publicly-traded firm nearly 1 million square feet of New York condo product in its pipeline.

But in recent weeks, the company has dismantled the team running its U.S. development arm, known as XIN Development, several sources told The Real Deal. And following the departure – some were let go, others moved on – of several key executives, XIN has turned over the management of three New York City projects to Kuafu Properties, a four-year-old development firm backed by Chinese private equity.

Precise terms of the deal with Kuafu weren’t disclosed, but Xinyuan said it would retain ownership of the projects.

Sources said that headwinds in the condo market could impact the developer’s other projects — specifically an ambitious plan to redevelop the long-shuttered RKO Keith’s Theater. “The project is stalled and there are landmark issues,” said a broker who has worked with Xinyuan.

After paying $175 per foot for the site in August 2016, plans called for tearing down most of the theater and building a 16-story condominium with 269 luxury units, priced between $1,150 and $1,300 per foot.

But just a few months after announcing the deal, Liang said he saw “danger” in the U.S. real estate market. “With its seven- to eight-year cycle, you get a sense now that it’s peaking,” he told the Wall Street Journal.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Questions about Van Bramer's fundraising

From Progress Queens:

For this report, Councilmember Van Bramer's communications director, Sean Butler, did not answer on the record questions submitted in advance by Progress Queens. A request for an interview was also not answered about the top 40 days when donations were clustered. If Councilmember Van Bramer's committee to reelect did not use more intermediaries to raise the $520,000 that was reported to have been directly raised by committee officials, then the coordination that took place was done by the committee. As noted by the activism group Queens Anti-Gentrification Project on a post on the group's blog, more than $100,000 of the money raised by Councilmember Van Bramer during the recent Municipal election cycle came from the real estate industry. Councilmember Van Bramer has not publicly opposed large real estate industry-backed projects -- such as the proposed rezoning of Long Island City, the proposed trolley service that would run through the Brooklyn and Queens waterfronts, known as the Brooklyn-Queens Connector, and the proposed development of Sunnyside Yards -- that Queens activists say will spread gentrification into the City's second-most populous borough. Activists have charged that Councilmember Van Bramer was "firmly aligned with a real estate industry that shows no regard for the working class." In an editorial published by the nonprofit news Web site City Limits, a member of the Queens Anti-Gentrification Project also questioned the direction of Queens under Councilmember Van Bramer's leadership.

For this report, neither Councilmember Van Bramer nor Communications Director Butler disclosed whether Councilmember Van Bramer had formed a dedicated campaign committee for his speakership race or when Councilmember Van Bramer began his Council speaker campaign. A source familiar with the Campaign Finance Board's regulations directed Progress Queens to the list of declared campaign committees when asked whether Councilmember Van Bramer had formed a dedicated campaign committee for the Council speakership. A review of the list showed that Councilmember had not appeared to have formed a dedicated campaign committee for his speakership race that was registered with the Municipal campaign finance regulatory authority. A separate review of State campaign committees registered under Councilmember Van Bramer's last name showed no change from a prior list of registered campaign committees generated online by Progress Queens on or about the time the complaint was filed with the Federal prosecutors' office.

Council member wants to bring back sidewalk clothing bins

From CBS 2:

Sanchez said the Eddie Bauer winter gear was found discarded outside the 5th Avenue store on Sunday night. She wanted to know why the store would ruin the men’s merchandise so it couldn’t be worn when it could have done so much good.

“This is not a singular incident,” councilman Rafael Espinal said.

Espinal is working on a bill to fine companies that deliberately destroy and dump clothing.

“Incentivize the donation of clothing by creating bins to place in front of retail stores,” he said.

Didn't we just spend years trying to get rid of clothing bins on sidewalks?