Thursday, August 31, 2017

Ridgewood rising

From the Queens Tribune:

Eastone Capital has recently made strides towards the development of a five-story, mixed-use building on Forest Avenue in Ridgewood that will include residential units and a gym.

The property—located at 62-41 Forest Ave., near Metropolitan Avenue and between Harman Street and Greene Avenue in Ridgewood—will have more than 30 residential units, according to the city Department of Buildings (DOB).
According to the city Department of Planning, the community facility could be anything that provides educational, health, recreational, religious or other essential services. The developer has announced that the community facility portion would house an ambulatory diagnostic center.

The first floor of the building will also feature a gym and 901-square-foot outdoor recreational area. Above that, the residential square footage will be divided among 30 units, for an average size of approximately 1,060 square feet per unit.

According to the DOB, the site will have 15 parking spaces, a mechanical area and eight off-street parking spots. There will also be 23 bicycle parking spaces in a 270-square-foot area.

Briarwood’s Gerald Caliendo Architects is designing the project, which is located in one of the quieter neighborhoods of western Queens. The site is two blocks from Grover Cleveland High School and Christ the King High School, one block from PS 71 elementary school and a 10-minute walk to the M train stop on Forest Avenue. It is close to the Metropolitan Avenue shopping strip and is approximately one mile from Wycoff [sic] Heights Medical Center.

The site most definitely is not 2 blocks from Christ the King High School. Since this strange story featured photos from March, we decided to include some taken this past week for your enjoyment. Not out of context at all!

Ozone Park dude tries to join ISIS

From the NY Post:

A 22-year-old Queens man has been busted trying to join ISIS, authorities said Tuesday.

Parveg Ahmed was deported back to the US from Saudia Arabia on Monday as he attempted to cross into Syria to joint the militant group, according to a newly unsealed indictment.

The Ozone Park man left a message for his family before traveling overseas, according to court papers, writing: “Forgive me if I was harsh/overbearing. Please remember all that I tried to teach you.”

He faces charges of attempting to provide material support to ISIS and is expected to face arraignment in Brooklyn federal court. If convicted, he faces life behind bars.

After Ahmed was taken into custody, authorities discovered disturbing images “associated with violent” groups on Ahmed’s phone, including “a picture of five men hanging by their necks with the caption ‘Gay men to be hanged,’ texts justifying attacks on the World Trade Center and a picture of the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Video Voter Guide: Council Districts 20 & 23

These 2 incumbents are presented without their challengers, who failed to record videos for the voter guide.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Video Voter Guide: Council District 19

LIC luxury high rise drug mill busted

From NBC:

A Queens man and a New Jersey woman have been arrested for allegedly conspiring to distribute dangerous designer drugs, including a synthetic opioid several times more potent than morphine that has been blamed for at least one overdose death, authorities said Tuesday. Lori Bordonaro reports.

Crowley challenger receives bomb threat

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Elderly man's driveway floods whenever it rains

From PIX11:

"I pray when it rains. I say, Lord, I hope you stop the rain. Please don't flood. Help me out," said Gadson, who still preaches at a local church once a month.

PIX11 News reached out to the Department of Transportation and Department of Environmental Protection for answers.

A DEP spokesperson says their "records show that DEP inspected catch basins on that block, as well as on the adjacent blocks, last week, and they were found to be clean and working properly."

A DOT spokesperson said that "a recent roadway inspection revealed a low curb in front of the residence in question. As you may be aware, Section 2904 of the New York City Charter places the responsibility for the repair and maintenance of the sidewalk and driveway area on the property owner. DOT is scheduling a subsequent inspection of the sidewalk and curb to determine next steps."

Vallone petition forensic report is getting really interesting

Forgery - Garden Variety and the Real Deal - Part 3 by Paul Graziano on Scribd

LIC: It's almost hot!

From DNA Info:

“There’s going to be a lot of new stuff happening in Long Island City,” noted Carole Bloom, of Bloomstone Group, which is marketing the 168-unit Watermark LIC, an energy-efficient, non-smoking building with a rooftop gym, a Zen-like garden and coffee bar lounge, among other amenities.

Around the corner from the building, a Starbucks is opening next to a Chipotle, and Watermark is getting some new retail in its space, too, she said.

“It’s soon to be vibrant,” she said, “but not too vibrant that you won’t want to come home to it, like other neighborhoods that get too touristy. It will remain residential and won’t be bogged down with tons of people.”

Haven't they been pretty much recycling the same article and quotes for the past 20 years? And who the hell gets excited about shitty chain stores opening in their neighborhood? You'll also note that "It's soon to be vibrant" but not diverse!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Calamus Ave residents concerned about water quality

From PIX11:

The DDC has now changed its regulations as a result of the mistake in Maspeth. In a statement to PIX11, a spokesman says “The agency has added a new specification to its construction requirements that mandates that only hose manufactured for potable water be used in future projects.”

So you mean to tell me that there was no regulation in place prior to this that hoses for drinking water be made for drinking water? How many other have been affected by contractors cutting corners?

Religious ritual is bad for the environment

"Hi Crappy, this is what goes on in Jamaica Bay at Frank Charles park in Howard Beach and the parking area on the south side of the Joseph Addabbo Bridge.This land is under National Park Service control and they claim they can't stop it because it's a freedom of religion issue.They dump into the water all kinds of fruits, vegetables,flowers,and food.On land they also leave behind statues,pictures and reams of cloth flags.
There is supposed to be an ecology minded group within the Hindu community that has been discouraging this practice and they say they do a cleanup once a month but I have never seen them at Charles Park. Last week I saw NPS clean the beach with a four man crew, they say they come every Sunday.
I think if NPS is going to allow this the they should clean the beach more often, nobody being on a beach with rotten fruit and it is bad for the health of the water and the animals that need a healthy environment to live." - Rich

How's that for height?

From NBC:

Residents in a quaint, townhouse-filled Brooklyn neighborhood are furious over a developer's plan to build the borough's tallest high-rise building in their backyard. Lori Bordonaro reports.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

City to help churches become developers

From Curbed:

A new program backed by the city and community partner Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) NYC will help nonprofits throughout the city develop affordable housing and community space on their underutilized properties.

The program, called the New York Land Opportunity Program or NYLOP, will provide free assistance to the institutions as they seek to develop their underused properties to benefit the community at large. Participation in NYLOP will come with access to lawyers and architects and help the institutions with issuing requests for proposals so that they can identify and select experienced developers as joint venture partners.

NYLOP is launching with five nonprofit institutions in its first round. All five institutions are faith-based organizations and include The Community Church of New York Unitarian Universalist with property in Murray Hill, Manhattan; St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in The Bronx; Shiloh Church of Christ in Harlem; Wakefield Grace United Methodist Church in the Wakefield neighborhood of The Bronx; and St. John’s Global Ministries near downtown Jamaica, Queens.

“Working with New York City’s community-based organizations, and particularly faith-based leaders, we are finding new ways to turn underutilized lots into modern affordable housing and community spaces that will benefit New Yorkers in need,” Mayor de Blasio said in a statement.

In addition to helping nonprofit institutions bring affordable housing to their neighborhoods, NYLOP will also help the churches create space for crucial community programs.

Council member introduces bill for shelter commission

From the Daily News:

A city councilman wants to take the politics out of locating homeless shelters by having an independent commission decide where new ones should be built.

“This isn’t happening just in one neighborhood, but it’s happening all across the city,” Councilman David Greenfield told the Daily News. “I think it will be a lot easier to get done than the way we have to get it done right now, which is piecemeal.”

Greenfield will introduce a bill Thursday to create a 15-member commission, made up of 5 appointees from the mayor, 5 from the City Council speaker, and one by each of the 5 borough presidents. The commission — which would have to be approved by voters at a referendum — was inspired by the independent board that determines which military bases face closure, another political can of worms.

“It’s an ambitious solution for what is essentially a political problem, where the politics of placing homeless shelters prevents them from getting built and we’re always playing catch up,” Greenfield said.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Richmond Hill block has a squatter problem

From PIX11:

Boarded-up homes in Queens surrounded by garbage are being taken over by dangerous squatters.

"It's a real big danger to my family," said Charles Mahadeo, who lives next door to one of the abandoned homes on the corner of Lefferts Boulevard and 95th Avenue in Richmond Hill.

"There have been two deaths in here, it's a dumping ground, it's very smelly and it's not a very good atmosphere at all around here," he said. "I'm very much concerned this place is very bad for my children and very dangerous, especially with the squatters."

Mahadeo told PIX11 Friday the owner of the home died a few years ago and no one has done anything with the house since.

Right across the street sits another abandoned house and there was a woman inside when we showed up.

She shouted, "I'm not a squatter."

The boarded up houses are among many occupied two and three-family homes.

Office of Nightlife created

From Crains:

The City Council voted Wednesday in support of a measure to establish an official Nightlife Advisory Panel and Office of Nightlife, which will reach out to the city's clubs and entertainment venues in hopes of reducing regulation on small operators.

The board will consist of representatives from the Council and the mayor's office with ties to the industry, and will deliver a host of policy recommendations within 18 months. The office will seek to monitor trends and changes within the field and make appropriate suggestions to City Hall. Mayor Bill de Blasio supports the measure.

Brooklyn Councilman Rafael Espinal, who sponsored the bill, described it as a way of giving underground venues and small-dollar local establishments a chance against larger businesses.

Espinal said he hopes to turn next to repealing the city's cabaret license statutes, which forbid establishments to obtain special permits in order to allow dancing.

Friday, August 25, 2017

More about those Vallone petitions...

Forgery - Garden Variety and the Real Deal - Part 2 by Paul Graziano on Scribd

City Council Member wants more say in rezonings

From Crains:

A city councilwoman is taking her opposition to residential developments planned for the Lower East Side to a new level. Margaret Chin introduced legislation Thursday that would change the way city government handles rezoning proposals and give elected officials even more power to block new projects. If the law is approved, Chin could use it to try to dictate the size and scale of three long-planned waterfront towers just north of the Manhattan Bridge in the Two Bridges neighborhood.

Typically rezonings must go through a lengthy vetting process with the Department of City Planning before they are made public. In certain cases the bill would allow the mayor, borough presidents and the City Council's Committee on Land Use to skip the so-called preapplication process, which can last up to a year. Such a change would give politicians a huge advantage over private developers.

Chin plans to use the altered rules to immediately introduce a zoning tweak that would force the developers of the three towers to go through the public-review process. That would give Chin the power to kill the proposals unless the developers meet her demands, which would likely entail scaling back the height of the buildings and thus reduce their residential density. Without the legislative tweak, Chin would never get this change approved in time to quash the projects.

Anti-establishment pol rages against the Machine by endorsing a Crowley

From the Queens Chronicle:

In his endorsement, announced by the Crowley campaign on Tuesday, Barnwell specifically cited her opposition to last year’s plan to convert the Maspeth Holiday Inn Express into a homeless shelter as a reason for his support.

“For the last eight years, Elizabeth Crowley has been a tireless fighter for our community. She stood with us against the Mayor to oppose the disastrous homeless shelter proposal for the Maspeth Holiday Inn,” Barnwell’s statement reads. “This is the kind of leadership that Elizabeth Crowley brings to the Council, and I’m proud to endorse her re-election and stand with her on the issues that matter to our families.”

The lawmaker had told the Chronicle multiple times since Holden announced his candidacy in April that he didn’t expect to officially support anyone in the race.

And his endorsement of Crowley represents something of a departure from his rhetoric during his successful Democratic primary campaign against then-Assemblywoman Marge Markey last year.

Barnwell was present at nearly every nightly protest for over a month, speaking to the crowd of angry constituents multiple times — even being introduced by Holden on some occasions.

And in at least two of those brief speeches, Barnwell took swipes at Crowley for not attending any of those protests.

“Is Liz Crowley here? Who’s that?” Barnwell asked the crowd on Aug. 19. “The fact is [Crowley, Markey and state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach)] haven’t showed up to give us an update and it’s atrocious.”

“You guys stopped this. The elected officials didn’t stop this,” Barnwell said on Sept. 10, after the city announced it would not convert the entire hotel into a shelter. “They haven’t stood with us. And it’s not the first time they haven’t stood with us.”

The assemblyman defended his past statements in a Tuesday interview with the Chronicle, saying Crowley deserved credit for bringing a lawsuit against the city over the shelter plan.

“She brought a lawsuit and it was dismissed for a lack of standing. So as a legislator, I brought up a bill that would give us standing,” Barnwell said. “How many other politicians have ever brought a lawsuit against Mayor de Blasio?”

Actually, Letitia James has sued de Blasio multiple times and Rory Lancman has as well. And let's not forget that little lawsuit that saved FMCP from having a shopping mall developed inside it.

Now it's been confirmed that Crowley knew about this shelter months before the community did, and she failed to show up at any of the protests that were held, so this Barnwell statement is a bit suspect.

It's more likely that Barnwell is being threatened with a primary challenge and therefore was "forced" to endorse Dizzy Lizzy and acquiesce to having this statement attributed to him which was obviously written by the Crowley camp. Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss. Only 8 months in and this guy's already crossed over to the Dark Side.

It must really be terrifying to a pol to be faced with the prospect of having to find a real job.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Strange goings on at Sunnyside condo

From PIX11:

Elevator surveillance video allegedly shows Neil Milano, wearing a mask of the president, plastering the door with Trump stickers in a would be attempt to “menace” his neighbors in Sunnyside at a building on 39th Place.

“This is not the type of neighborhood for him,” said a neighbor, Renee, who does not want to disclose her last name.

She says Milano has been menacing neighbors who get on his bad side.

“Every time he does something like this, he escalates his behavior,” she said.

Milano is the condo board president of a building around the corner, where he’s put up other references to President Trump, and a lot more.

From provocative Jim Crow-era images, to banners of Adolf Hitler, all framed around what Milano’s lawyer calls a historical display.

Queens City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer could not disagree more.

“We are asking the NYPD to investigate this as a hate crime, and for the human rights commission to investigate what can be done here,” Van Bramer said.

But does the fountain work?

From NY1:

Borough President Melinda Katz and other elected officials cut the ribbon on the newly-dedicated Women's Plaza in Queens Tuesday. It now has new masonry, benches and plants.

The monument on Queens Boulevard and Union Turnpike used to be home to a statue called the "Triumph of Civic Virtue." It depicted a man standing over two women symbolizing corruption and vice.

“It really represented old-fashioned, old-fashioned thoughts about women,” said Claire Shulman, a former Queens Borough President.

As do you, grandma!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

De Blasio thinks he's doing more than Bloomberg did

From CBS 2:

Mayor Bill de Blasio has touched off a battle royal with former Mayor Michael Bloomberg over who is the biggest workaholic.

As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, it began with de Blasio insisting that he needs way more top-dollar special assistants because his agenda is bigger.

“It’s about getting the work done,” de Blasio said.

De Blasio was just back from vacation Monday and apparently feeling pugilistic, as he metaphorically bopped former Mayor Bloomberg on the noggin.

De Blasio was defending is decision to hire nearly three times more high-priced special assistants than Bloomberg had. The current mayor laid down the gauntlet, challenging Bloomberg on his work ethic.

“We’re trying to do a lot,” de Blasio said. “I can’t tell you all the intricacies of the Bloomberg administration. I can tell you in this administration, we’ve put together very ambitious goals.”

Bloomberg had 109 special assistants, while de Blasio has 298.

“I can say on a number of items, we’re trying to do things on a bigger scale,” de Blasio said. “We’re running this government very differently, and we’re doing a number of things that weren’t touched at all in those years, and we’ve got to have the personnel to make it work.”

But former Bloomberg director of communications Bill Cunningham was quick to fire back.

“It’ a joke, right?” Cunningham said. “He’s trying to fill in for Jerry Lewis and Dick Gregory since they passed away.”

BDB used personal email for city business

From CBS 2:

A city document indicated that Mayor Bill de Blasio and four of his aides used personal email accounts for city business, sources said late Tuesday.

Sources told CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer about the use of the personal email accounts, which the New York Times also reported on Tuesday night.

The Department of Investigation discovered the use of the accounts while investigating the mayor’s campaign fundraising last year, sources said.

De Blasio was not charged criminally in connection with the campaign fundraising but, the U.S. Attorney’s office said the mayor intervened on behalf of donors seeking political favors, and the Manhattan District Attorney’s office said the way the mayor raised money violated the “spirit” of the law.

The mayor used his personal email address at least 1,850 times for conducting city business, sources said. The actions could be in violation of some city guidelines, sources said.

Rufus King Park needs some attention

From DNA Info:

A Jamaica park that recently underwent a $2.2 million makeover is a "disaster" plagued by litter and filled with homeless people, locals say, but the Parks Department thinks the green space is clean enough.

The 11-acre Rufus King Park in downtown Jamaica, which is home to Rufus King Manor, is one of the most heavily used in the neighborhood that hosts numerous community events.

Last year, as part of the city's Jamaica Now Action Plan seeking to revitalize the once-overlooked area, a new lawn, trees and shrubs were planted, the park's pathways were repaved, a new spray shower was installed, and its gazebo was restored.

Locals said that while they hoped the overhaul would the improve park's conditions, trash continues to cover its lawns.

“It’s such a beautiful park, it has so much potential, but when you come there you see trash everywhere,” said Phil Lobato, 42, a registered nurse who works in downtown Jamaica and passes by the park every day.

“I’m absolutely appalled by what I see,” he said, adding that the park stays cleaner in the winter, "but when spring hits, it’s a disaster there."

The Parks Department said it has assigned two employees to the park who "maintain the grounds and pick up litter every day," according to agency spokeswoman Meghan Lalor. "Parks Enforcement routinely patrols the park to enforce Parks rules."

She also noted that when the green space was inspected through the Parks Inspection Program on March 7, it “was given an acceptable rating for cleanliness.”

But during a visit to the park on Thursday, about a dozen apparently homeless men could be seen in the park, with several of them sitting on benches while others slept on the grass and in the park’s pavilion. Litter could also be seen strewn about the green space.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Part 2 of Queens Tribune's city council debate

Can the Crapper call them or what?

Remember this silliness from 3 years ago? An arts center who is catering to the disabled but wants a liquor license...

Ah, Billy, their liquor license has been rescinded. Word on the street is that they got into some big trouble and now owe SLA thousands of dollars. And one of the co-owners is in really hot water over what he did over at the Market Hotel. Surprise, surprise! I wonder when the follow up "news" articles will come out?

Monday, August 21, 2017

Details released about Vallone petitions

Forgery - Garden Variety and the Real Deal - Part 1 by Paul Graziano on Scribd

WOW, and this is only part 1!

Good times.

Lobbyists basically run City Hall

From Politico:

As Mayor Bill de Blasio’s staff first learned to navigate the city’s vast bureaucracy, they sought regular help from an eager lobbying firm that had much to gain in return.

Commissioners and employees across city agencies solicited the advice of the firm Capalino + Company to shape policy, raise funds for events and answer technical questions on myriad aspects of municipal government, according to thousands of pages of emails reviewed by POLITICO New York.

The emails, obtained through a records request, show Capalino's stable of lobbyists was so entrenched in the minutiae of de Blasio's first term, they formed an unofficial, additional layer of government — sometimes instructing staffers how to do their jobs — all while advancing the interests of their paying clients.

Bureaucracy keeps small business in the dark

From CBS:

Anil Argawal, wiping away tears, explains the frustration of sitting in his dark Kew Gardens, Queens, grocery store, with no electricity, empty coolers and freezers, and no business for months.

“I came 30 years ago in this country hoping to make a bright future for my kids and my wife,” he told CBS2’s Marcia Kramer. “Now I feel like I got nothing to provide them.”

CBS2 first reported about Argarwal’s plight six weeks ago after the electricity was turned off as the result of a complicated series of events involving the MTA, which owns the property because the store is on a bridge over the Long Island Rail Road; the landlord, who has a deal with the MTA to sublease the 13 stores on the bridge; and Con Ed, which was called in to help upgrade the power lines, a move necessary to serve the freezers and coolers installed in the grocery.

Putting aside the blame game, an Aug. 4 letter from Con Ed to landlord Kunal Kapoor said he had to install something called a “sleeve” in the foundation before Con Ed could get started.

The landlord’s lawyer said he thought the sleeve came after Con Ed did the work. Now he knows differently. He said he expects the sleeve will be installed next week.

The real question is whether Argawal will ever be able to restock all the empty shelves

“I don’t even have the money to fill it up,” he said.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

A crap above, Ridgewood edition

Here we are at 1874 Hart Street, which is on a nice, quiet, rowhouse-lined block in Ridgewood.
What we have here is a horrendous vertical enlargement.
The 4-apartment building will soon be an 8-apartment building.
Some of the complaints are quite interesting.
One resulted in a stop work order.
Looks like they're also moving the entrance over to the left and installing a ramp which no other building on this street has. Sigh.

Seriously stupid

So is there one DOT crew that installs these and another that comes and takes the plastic off? Or did someone just do a half-assed job, which is what I suspect?

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Worker dies at Manhattan building project site

From the Daily News:

A 22-year-old construction worker from Yonkers died after falling 20 feet down an elevator shaft while working on a high-profile luxury building, police said.

Jonathan Lupinski fell two stories to the basement at 281 Fifth Ave. at E. 30th St. about 9:40 a.m. He suffered grave head injuries.

“While stripping the elevator shaft, the worker fell to the cellar level,” a Department of Buildings report said.

Medics rushed him to Bellevue Hospital, where he died, officials said.

What killed the Flushing Creek fish?

From the Queens Tribune:

With reports last week of “thousands of dead fish” floating in Flushing Creek, the city’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) placed the blame on predatory TK fish, which the agency said chased the defenseless fish into low-oxygen areas where they ultimately died.

But Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) and local environmentalists tell a different story, blaming the deaths of the fish on the polluted conditions in the creek, where the city is currently looking to reduce combined sewage overflows (CSOs). These are instances where, during heavy rainfall, sewage-treatment plants cannot handle the increased load, and a combination of excess rainwater and untreated sewage seeps into local waterways.

On Aug. 11, Koo used the deaths of the fish as evidence that the city should rethink its long-term control plan for Flushing Creek and Flushing Bay—which is the DEP’s plan to reduce CSOs. Alongside environmentalists, Koo argued that the plan’s use of chlorine to disinfect the waters could have a negative impact on the waters’ ecosystems, and that the city should invest in increasing the capacity of the area’s sewage infrastructure.

The DEP also says it sampled the waters the Monday before the fish kill, which occurred on Aug. 9, and found sufficient oxygen to support marine life. Additionally, it says the rain that occurred that Monday was all captured by the $350 million sewer overflow tank. It argues that fish kills like this have happened before, and if the water conditions were at fault, the predatory fish would be dying as well. The DEP is building green infrastructure in the area to capture stormwater before it enters the sewer system.

But marine immunologist James Cervino, who is the chairman of Community Board 7’s environmental committee, said that he analyzed the dead fish and concluded that the fish were killed by polluted waters. He said that had the fish been killed off in a predatory event, there would be “massive lesions and bitemarks.”

“There [are] no bitemarks,” he said. “Some of the fish have been eaten by blue fish and chased, which is a normal process, but a majority of fish that died off were due to a harmful algal bloom.”

What the hell is a TK fish?

Development along coast is questioned

From DNA Info:

Critics of the city's plan to build a school, offices and 1,000 apartments on the Long Island City waterfront called it "irresponsible" to develop the site because it's located in a hurricane evacuation zone that's prone to flooding during storms.

Advocates said they would rather see the two city-owned parcels — located next to the East River at the end of 44th Drive — converted to public parkland, with plantings, oyster beds and other green infrastructure to help make the area more resistant to floods.

"We think continuing to build in a flood plain is irresponsible," said Diane Hendry, a member of the LIC Coalition, an advocacy group that launched a petition last week opposing the city's plans. "The land is a natural wetlands. It should be preserved. We do not want this land used for 1,000 luxury units."

The city's Economic Development Corporation and developer TF Cornerstone are planning the mixed-use project, which will include a 600-seat school, offices and light manufacturing space, as well as at least 1,000 apartments, a quarter of which will be set aside for affordable housing.

The development will rise on two sites across the street from one another: 5-40 44th Drive, currently a Department of Transportation facility, and 4-99 44th Drive, which includes a Department of Education parking lot and the shuttered Water's Edge restaurant.

The site is located within Hurricane Evacuation Zone 1, what the city has designated as the most likely to flood during a storm. The parcels also sit on the border between two FEMA flood zones with the highest risk of flooding, according to a map from the agency.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Part 1 of Queens Tribune's city council debate

Featuring: Hiram Monseratte, Rory Lancman, Peter Koo, Alison Tan, Paul Vallone, Paul Graziano, Elizabeth Crowley and Robert Holden

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Queens newspaper publisher may do 20 years in prison

From the Daily News:

A Queens newspaper publisher found herself on the wrong side of a headline after authorities said she was messing with the mob.

Patricia Adams, publisher of The Forum, was arrested Wednesday on a charge of witness tampering in a bizarre offshoot of a loansharking case involving the Bonanno crime family, according to Brooklyn federal prosecutors.

Instead of simply signing off on a story about the scheme, Adams became a key player, using her weekly newspaper to bully a woman out of testifying against a Bonanno associate accused of sexually harassing the woman at his Broad Channel deli.

The harassment accusation against Robert Pisani threatened the freedom he enjoyed after posting $500,000 bail in a $26 million loansharking scheme in and around Howard Beach, officials said.

Adams allegedly stepped in, and tried to make the woman’s father talk his daughter out of cooperating with federal law enforcement.

Days ahead of Pisani’s bail revocation hearing, the local newswoman played hardball with the victim’s dad and said she’d dirty up the daughter in her paper, prosecutors said.

Judge Brian Cogan agreed to release Adams late Wednesday on $150,000 bond. Adams also had to put up her house as collateral.

She’ll be under house arrest, so if she wants to go out and interview people for the paper, she’ll have to get the green light from pretrial services, Cogan said.

Adams is looking at up to 20 years if convicted.

Liz Crowley looking kinda desperate

So Liz Crowley's gotta be pretty worried if she is sending mailers out like this.
1) She's had several opponents and never got this down and dirty with any of them.
2) She's using a 10-year old photo from a blog that attacks her and praises her disgraced predecessor, Dennis Gallagher.
3) Holden is running on other lines in the general election (and she has the WFP line although she was bounced from the Independence line) so it's guaranteed that they will meet in November, no matter what happens in the primary. And a good portion of her district is solidly Republican and non-affiliated voters.
4) The whole focus of this piece is that the guy accepted an award from the Queens GOP. Not for upholding Republican values, but for his civic work over the years. I'd like to thank Ms. Crowley for explaining that civic work is a Republican value and not a Democratic value. This whole time I thought political party didn't matter when it came to caring about one's community, but clearly I was wrong.

Sorry, but an incumbent sinking to this level reeks of desperation.

I'll let Holden have the last word:

“I don’t care if you’re a Democrat or a Republican, if you don’t do right by the neighborhood, we’re not going to get along.” - Robert Holden.

What an awful philosophy! All hail the Queens County Machine!

(The funny thing is that if the Queens Dems are so opposed to Trump, why did they endorse a guy who likes him?)

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Graziano details allegations against Vallone

From the Queens Chronicle:

“Faced with arguing his absurd case in front of a Judge, Graziano instead chose to withdraw the complaint, tacitly admitting that this was nothing more than a cheap, meritless publicity stunt that wasted everyone’s time and our taxpayers’ hard earned money,” a Vallone campaign press release said.

Graziano has not quite admitted that the suit was “meritless,” though. Although the Democratic challenger dropped the litigation, he said he is still wholly convinced that the Vallone campaign committed forgery and fraud to collect the signatures needed to run.

And here we go...

If you have about 1/2 hour to sit and watch this, I assure you, it's quite interesting!

"Dear Friends:

As many of you know, due to financial issues I was unable to continue my court action against my opponent, Paul Vallone, which focused on massive fraud, forgery and illegal activities in the gathering of petition signatures in order to get on to the Democratic Party ballot line.

On Monday afternoon, I began to release my findings to the press and the public. Above is the full video of the press conference, which was well-attended by the local and city-wide press.

As stated at the press conference, I will be releasing new information twice a week for the foreseeable future; rather than overwhelm the press with an incredibly complex story all at once, each release will be a chapter in the larger story of what I uncovered.

Scans of the original petitions are here:

If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to reach out to me at any time."

Paul Graziano

These videos show what appears to be an underage teenager (high school sophomore) procuring and witnessing signatures on petitions for Paul Vallone. In the background can be seen a number of other underage teenagers doing the same thing.

Flushing has its own "half house"

"The owner of 141-20 Booth Memorial Avenue (which I drive by a lot) McMansionified his attached house, which must be hell for the neighbors at 141-18, judging by the complaints on the DOB website. I can't believe they let the owner do this." - anonymous
Similar to the Elmhurst Half-House, one of the earliest posts on QC!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Cuomo ok with congestion pricing (after the election)

From Curbed:

To carry out immediate repairs on NYC’s faltering subway system, $800 million in funds are needed. The state has contributed $400 million so far, and expects the city to provide the rest. While not committing to providing these funds, Mayor Bill de Blasio did propose a millionaires tax to help fund half-priced MetroCards for low-income New Yorkers.

Now Governor Andrew Cuomo is trying to pump more funds into the subway, albeit with a type of proposal that previously failed: congestion pricing. Reporters were speculating about this on Twitter last week, and Cuomo subsequently confirmed to the New York Times that he was looking to develop a congestion pricing proposal, but declined to provide details.

A previous plan on congestion pricing introduced by Mayor Michael Bloomberg got derailed in the state legislature, particularly on concerns that it unfairly favored Manhattan residents. Cuomo told the Times that his plan is inspired by that proposal, but will move in a different direction. This quote from the Times basically sums it up:

“Congestion pricing is an idea whose time has come,” Mr. Cuomo said. He declined to provide specifics about how the plan would work and what it would charge, but said that he had been meeting with “interested parties” for months and that the plan would probably be substantially different from Mr. Bloomberg’s proposal.

The Times piece also revealed that Cuomo had introduced a pilot program a few months ago to reduce the amount of trucks in Manhattan during rush hour: trucks that worked overnight got reduced tolls.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Cuomo aide says Albany drama is all because of Gianaris

From the Daily News:

A top aide to Gov. Cuomo says reunifying the fractured state Senate Democrats will be almost impossible as long as Sen. Michael Gianaris remains in a top leadership role for the mainline Dems.

The personal animosity between Gianaris and Bronx Sen. Jeffrey Klein, who heads up a group of eight breakaway Senate Democrats aligned in a leadership coalition with the Republicans, is the single biggest roadblock for Dem control of the chamber, the Cuomo official said.

The aide sought to peg most the problems on Gianaris, who has had his own tensions with the governor, most recently over the mass transit crisis.The Cuomo aide accused Gianaris, of Queens, of trying behind the scenes to torpedo any deal because he’d rather be deputy leader in the minority than lose influence if the Dems are in the majority.

“This is the oldest story in the book — it’s power, who gets it and who loses it,” the aide said. “When Jeff Klein rejoins the Democrats, Mike Gianaris gets displaced, and therefore he is working to further the divide.”

To break the stalemate, the Cuomo official said, the governor has gone “so far as to offer Mike a job in the administration or offer to support him to run for Queens County (district attorney) down the road.”

Queens Gentrifiction Tour points fingers at pols

From Progress Queens:

Members of an activist group, the Queens Anti-Gentrification Project, conducted a "gentrification tour" of a Queens neighborhood on Saturday, reciting facts and figures at various tour stops to recount in stark terms that Government policy was supporting radical changes to Long Island City that was displacing long-term tenants and changing the landscape of Queens. The tour was joined by approximately 50 people.

The Queens Gentrification Tour began outside the former site of 5Pointz, a building complex that was demolished to make way for two luxury apartment buildings. With the rumble of the 7 subway train overhead, a member of the activist group described how, in the time leading up to the New York City Council approval of the rezoning for the construction project, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) accepted several thousand dollars in campaign donations from the Wolkoff family, owners of the site at the time. In advance of the tour, the Queens Anti-Gentrification Project released information in a blog post about real estate industry-related campaign donations received by Councilmember Van Bramer's campaign committee. Some of those figures were recounted during the tour.

For this report, the office of Councilmember Van Bramer did not answer a request to respond to the accusations made by anti-gentrification activists that Councilmember Van Bramer served the interests of his campaign committee's real estate donors.

At various stops of the tour, members of the activist group challenged what they described as the "myth" that real estate development in New York City was driven by the free market. Instead, one activist said at one tour stop that the New York tax policy known as 421-a was responsible for encouraging luxury real estate development speculation by eliminating property taxes to allow real estate developers to construct zone-busting apartment buildings. The annual cost of the 421-a property tax abatement program was reported as $1,4 billion in a report published by The New York Times. At several tour stops, the foregone $1,4 billion in annual property taxes was denounced for the missed opportunities to make strategic investments in infrastructure or public schools.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The truth about cars in Queens

Next time one of those "transportation advocates" tries to tell you that car ownership is a luxury and most households in the city don't own one, you can whip this map out and show them that in Queens, not only is it the norm, but it's practically a necessity.

Tell them when they find a way for you to get from Glendale to Bayside without multiple transfers and about 2 hours wasted, you'll give public transportation a shot.

$2M for a small piece of Ridgewood

This seems like a bit much for a property that only has 2 residential units and an office and isn't right near a subway station (the M is about 5 blocks away and will be out for a while).

St. Nicholas Ave church-to-crap

I missed the unveiling of this rendering back in 2015 when Curbed put it out there. But I had the misfortune of passing the site recently and saw it on their sign. Yikes.
Believe it or not, this is supposedly going to be a 3-family home.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Getting to MS-13 through immigrants

From Fox News:

Critics of the sanctuary city crackdown say it will chill immigrants from helping ICE go after MS-13 gang members, but the feds say they have plenty of tools – including a change in visa status - to win cooperation from the immigrant community.

The options seem to be paying off, with investigators from ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations saying immigrant cooperation is making a big difference in the fight against the lethal and ruthless MS-13 gang.

In an atmosphere where cooperating with law enforcement is a death sentence imposed by the gang, most illegal immigrants appear to be more concerned about how to obtain legal resident status than financial reward, said one investigator who declined to be identified.

But at the same time, critics warn that the visa tool should be used only sparingly, since it could lead to fraudulent claims.

Now we have "rogue bikesharing"

From the NY Post:

A California company will dump 300 dockless share bikes across the Big Apple on Monday — and they don’t have permission from the city to do it.

Spin, a San Francisco-based company, will drop 150 rigs throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn and another 150 in the Rockaways, according to City Councilman Eric Ulrich, who is in favor of the company moving in even though New York has a contract with Citi Bike.

“Bike sharing represents the future, and I don’t believe we should be protecting Citi Bike as a monopoly,” said Ulrich. “Citi Bike has a contract to have docks on city property and that’s fine, but the city has to let bike riders and New Yorkers decide who they want to pay.”

Unlike Citi Bikes, which must be picked up from and brought back to a station after each use, dockless bikeshare companies use cycles with self-locking technology that customers can access through an app. They can then pick up and leave the bikes anywhere.

Transit advocates fear dockless bikes could be a disaster.

“They litter the streets everywhere they go,” said a source familiar with the operations. “They have to go somewhere and they end up in the middle of sidewalks and in dumpsters and in the way of everything.”

At least five rogue dockless bike companies have been sniffing around the city and buttering up officials since the spring, officials have said. Spin will be the first to actually set up shop here.

This is funny. If it's Spin or nothing, the Rockaways should have nothing, according to DOT. Also humorous is the unnamed transit advocate who claims these bikes will end up in the middle of sidewalks and in dumpsters. What?

Friday, August 11, 2017

Falling back on fallout shelters

From PIX11:

Decades after the end of the Cold War, old “Fallout Shelter” signs are still all around New York City. But people are beginning to look at them in a whole new light given the nuclear tensions between the United States and North Korea.

These bomb shelters were built after Gov. Nelson Rockefeller called for a massive shelter program in 1960 (he later had shelters installed in the governor’s mansion and his three homes). Shelters were built in office and apartment buildings and even high-profile places, allegedly including The Waldorf-Astoria and Grand Central Terminal. In 2006, a shelter in the Brooklyn Bridge was also uncovered.

The shelters were stocked with supplies like aspirin, toilet paper and biscuits. By the 1970s however, the shelters had run out of financial support nationally and locally. The remaining supplies were either removed, destroyed or forgotten.

Most of the shelters have been repurposed, with only their faded signs remaining. And until recently, few have given them a second look.

Big hotel coming to downtown Jamaica

From AM-NY:

Downtown Jamaica has worked hard to reclaim its status as a destination for shoppers.

Now officials are hoping to make it a lively tourist hub, with plans for a dozen new hotels as well as residential towers and retail stores.

After decades of plans and proposals to revive the area, progress can be seen in two towers rising near Jamaica Station on Sutphin Boulevard.

One of those sites will hold a Fairfield Inn and Courtyard by Marriott with more than 300 rooms; and the other, a mixed income housing development.

Hope Knight, president of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, said the group hopes to attract travelers who would otherwise stay in hotels outside John F. Kennedy Airport, where there is little for them to do.

“Being able to stay in downtown Jamaica is a competitive advantage,” said Knight, who pointed out the AirTrain, subway and Long Island Rail Road all stop at Jamaica Station. “And they can get to Downtown Brooklyn or Penn Station in 20 minutes.”

Summer Friday caption contest

From the NY Post:

​Disgraced​ former​ ​Queens city councilman Ruben Wills cried like a baby as he was sentenced to two to six years in prison Thursday for looting public coffers​, pleading for leniency and maintaining his innocence to the end.

Wills, who was stripped of his title at sentencing, was ordered to pay almost $33,000 in res​​titution after a jury found him guilty of pocketing some $30,000 in city funds.

The normally well-heeled politician arrived in court in jogging duds and blue sneakers–and bawled as he begging the judge for leniency, claiming he’d done nothing wrong.

“Do not incarcerate me,” Wills begged. “I maintain my innocence and disagree with the verdict.”

“I did those things to enrich the community,” the typically cocky man said through sobs, at times crying so hard he was unintelligible. “I cannot justify that I did something wrong.”

“In my entire life I’ve never taken anything from anyone,” he blubbered. “My purpose from birth is I am an advocate.”

The still-teary pol then turned to his wife, and apologized for not spending more time with her “because I was out in the streets helping people and praying for people.”

Defense attorney Kevin O’Donnell also asked the judge for mercy, saying “very few people have given more to the community than Ruben Wills.”

“Show him some mercy, some compassion,” the lawyer implored, adding that jail would bankrupt his client and leave him unable to pay restitution. “I’m just asking you, judge, that you do the right thing and let him do community service. Nobody wins by him going to jail.”

“I have no doubt that you have done some good things in the community,” Queens Supreme Court Judge Ira Margulis told the whimpering lawmaker. “However you are convicted for stealing from state and city agencies.”

Margulis then slapped the disgraced pol with a $5,000 fine on top of everything else, and ordered him cuffed.

So there you have it. Now caption that photo!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Classic NYC government at work

From Brooklyn Daily:

Neighbors are outraged that the city tried to fine a Bay Ridge woman $100 for letting other residents’ garbage bags pile up in front of her 94th Street home — after it ordered residents of a nearby private street to leave them there for pick-up.

Earlier this year, the Department of Sanitation ordered residents of four private streets to start hauling their trash to the nearest public street corner to be collected, and the irony that the agency is now penalizing their neighbor for the pileup shows how flawed that new policy is, one resident said.

“Because of the change of policy, [the agency has] created a sanitary condition and is now going to penalize people for a condition created by its policy change,” said Bill Larney, who lives on Barwell Terrace, one of streets affected by the change.

The department has since moved to withdraw the July 26 summons, and claimed the ticket was a mistake. In fact, according to a agency spokeswoman, department staff was warned not to cite certain violations in the are, to avoid just such ironies.

“The Department of Sanitation instructed its enforcement personnel not to issue summonses for certain infractions at these locations,” said Kathy Dawkins. “Unfortunat­ely, a summons for storing plastic trash bags placed out on a public sidewalk on a non-collection day was issued to that address in error.”

The city told residents of Barwell Terrace, Wogan Terrace, Hamilton Walk, and Lafayette Walk back in March they they would have to start bringing their trash out to the curb of a public street for collection, ending the nearly 80-year practice of sanitation workers walking down the private walkways to pick up trash from the homes, according to Community Board 10 district manager Josephine Beckmann.

“These four locations are unique in that they’re off a main public street, and the manual collection was designed for that reason,” she said.

On June 5, the Department of Sanitation’s director of community affairs, Harry Ehrhardt, sent a letter to CB10 explaining that sanitation workers would no longer collect trash from the private streets due to safety concerns. And on June 26, residents of the four private streets responded by filing suit against the city and Department of Sanitation seeking restoration of service.

A resident who also lives on 94th Street between Hamilton and Lafayette Walks said he does not want to pay a price for the new policy because he lives in front of a newly designated trash drop-off area.

Flushing candidates speak at BFHA

Above is footage of the Broadway-Flushing Homeowner's Night. Paul Vallone, Paul Graziano and Alison Tan speak on these videos.

In related news, I received this...

A personal message from Paul Graziano:

As a candidate for City Council, I take the election process very seriously. This is why I began my court action against my opponent, Paul Vallone, as I discovered during the petitioning process that his campaign had conducted a program of massive fraud and forgery.

While I have found clear and disturbing evidence over the past few weeks that supports my claims, it is with great reluctance that I ended my court challenge today, due to lack of campaign funds; although I have received the maximum amount of public matching funds - $100,000 - this funding cannot be spent on legal action, particularly related to challenging the validity of an opponent's petitions.

Therefore, I have decided to release all of my detailed findings to the public, as I believe the residents and voters of the 19th Council District deserve to know how Paul Vallone and his campaign have obtained access to the Democratic Party ballot.

Please join my attorney, Martin E. Connor and me for a press conference to be held at 146-24 32nd Avenue on Monday, August 14th at 1pm where we will present our findings and discuss our next steps.

Paul Graziano, Democratic candidate for 19th Council District
Martin Connor, Esq., election law attorney

Presentation of our findings and discussion of our next steps re: allegations against Vallone campaign

146-24 32nd Avenue, Flushing

Monday, August 14, 1pm

Stay tuned! Sounds like it's just about to get really interesting.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Trump's first home listed on AirBnB

From the Times Ledger:

The childhood home of President Donald Trump, sold at auction in March to an anonymous individual, is listed on Airbnb for $750 a night and boasts 17 beds.

The Jamaica Estates address cited on the president’s birth certificate appeared on the website in June and uses the property’s history as a selling point for visitors. It also mentions the location’s proximity to the F train.

“POTUS - Donald J. Trump’s childhood home,” the listing said. “Stay in the heart of NYC in the president’s childhood home. Featured in hundreds of news articles, stay in a part of living history.”

State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), who has led a crusade against the rental website stemming from resident complaints about listings in their neighborhood, laughed Monday about the fact Trump’s home had even fallen victim to what he believes to be an epidemic in suburban Queens neighborhood.

Avella noted that presidential homes are usually made into museums and carry strict historic preservation protections, but that the former home of the controversial leader had been had not drawn this reverential treatment.

The comment came during a news conference on the unveiling of Avella’s bill designed to hinder the unrelenting proliferation of Airbnb in Queens without the requirements designated for hotels.

Koslowitz says she'll stop Key Food's departure

From the Queens Gazette:

The Forest Hills and Rego Park communities near the 112th Precinct have been in an uproar since it was announced that one of the community’s treasured shopping locations would be moving out of the area to be replaced by an 11-story, 170-unit rental apartment building, depriving the area of a supermarket and adding to the traffic and parking problems that already plague the area.

Former Queens County Deputy Borough President and present NYC Councilwoman for the area, Karen Koslowitz, vowed to stop the egress of the long-time food market located at the corner of Yellowstone and Queens Blvds. Her announcement was made during her participation in National Night Out Against Crime on Tuesday evening, August 1, as she spoke to a group of about 200 community residents who gathered together to recognize and honor the members of local law enforcement whose mission is to keep the community safe.

This I gotta see.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Cuomo to introduce modified congestion pricing

From AM-NY:

Congestion pricing was killed the way many policy proposals die in Albany: behind closed doors.

In 2008, Assembly Democrats revolted against the inititive championed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg because it included East River tolls, which critics said would disproptionately affect residents of Brooklyn and Queens.

"It's really, really difficult for people in Brooklyn and Queens at this point to consider something like this. And I think we just need to start from the ground up all over again," Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan of Queens said at the time.

But with the subways in crisis and searching for a dedicated funding source, congestion pricing could be resurrected. Sources say Governor Andrew Cuomo is considering supporting a plan that would charge fees on for-hire vehicles like Uber and Lyft.

But lawmakers outside of Manhattan are still wary.

"Residents in New York want mass transit options. They don't want a financial burden. And they don't want to keep reaching into their pockets," said Assemblywoman Nily Rozic of Queens.