• July 22, 2014
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Queens Chronicle

Queenswide

Stories with boroughwide interest

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LIRR contract accord reached; strike averted

The MTA and Long Island Rail Road employee unions have reached a contract agreement, averting a strike that had been set to begin at 12:01 a.m. Sunday, Gov. Cuomo, agency Chairman Thomas Prendergast and labor leaders announced today.

Remedy sought for illegal clothing bins
Updated: July 18, 2014 - 4:37 pm

Calling the use of illegal clothing bins for profit “a disgusting practice,” Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside) said Friday he is introducing legislation in Albany that should put a halt to the operation.

At a press conference Friday outside the gates of the historic Lawrence Cemetery in Bayside, Braunstein pointed to a large pink metal bin that purports to collect clothes for the poor placed illegally on city property.

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Avella-Liu fundraising heats up campaign
Updated: July 18, 2014 - 4:57 pm

Campaign finance reports have revved up the interest and the rhetoric in the state’s 11th Senate District, while in the 14th they brought more bad news for 14-year incumbent Malcolm Smith (D-Hollis).

Former city Comptroller John Liu, who joined the race less than two months ago, reported more than $508,000 in donations to his campaign to unseat incumbent Tony Avella (D-Bayside) in the 11th District Democratic primary in reports that were due by 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday.

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Dueling rallies are held on Israeli-Gazan battle
Updated: July 18, 2014 - 5:01 pm

The conflict between Israel and Palestinian Arabs living in the Hamas-led Gaza Strip prompted rallies in support of each side Monday at City Hall.

Supporters of Israel, largely elected officials including many from Queens, gathered at the foot of the steps to the building, while a crowd backing Arab Palestinians massed a few yards away at the edge of the gated plaza to denounce the Jewish state.

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Bill to create ID cards for all becomes law
Updated: July 18, 2014 - 4:13 pm

Mayor de Blasio last Thursday signed into law the measure that will create municipal identification cards for New York City residents. Although available to anyone, the cards are especially designed for people who will not or cannot get other forms of ID, such as illegal immigrants.

The mayor noted at a hearing held the day before the bill signing that many New Yorkers don’t have driver’s licenses — though he did not address the nondriver’s ID the state offers them — and that undocumented residents are forced to “live in the shadows” because they lack proper identification.

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Cuomo campaign cashing in
Updated: July 18, 2014 - 5:00 pm

On July 7, Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino told a group of supporters in Queens Village, “If we can raise enough money, we can win this thing.”

He’d best get cracking, according to campaign finance reports filed with the state’s Board of Elections by his and Gov. Cuomo’s campaign this week.

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Dem official expresses sympathy with Gaza
Updated: July 18, 2014 - 4:13 pm

One Jewish Democratic official called it “touching the third rail of Queens politics.”

A Democratic district leader from Jackson Heights posted one word and a symbol on her Facebook page last week and it has sparked criticism. Depending on whom you ask, her comment ignited a hot debate within the Democratic Party, or was just exploited in a cynical ploy in an obscure political race that is part of the ongoing battle between the Queens Democratic establishment and a group of anti-establishment party members backed by several citywide elected officials.

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BTECH prepares to welcome students
Updated: July 18, 2014 - 4:59 pm

In September, 125 freshmen will walk into the Martin Van Buren High School building. They won’t be students at Van Buren, but rather a new co-located school there. When they graduate in 2020, they will have not only a high school diploma, but also a college degree.

The new school, Business Technology Early College High School, or BTECH, will try to offer what the school’s founders call “a different type of high school experience,” which, rather than prepare students for college, will actually give them some of that education, so when they graduate, employers seek them out.

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They’re back: West Nile bugs
Updated: July 18, 2014 - 5:03 pm

For the first time this season, the Health Department has detected West Nile virus in New York City mosquitoes.

The infected mosquitoes were collected from the Douglaston and College Point neighborhoods in Queens and Old Town on Staten Island. No human cases have been reported this season.

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Having a ball at the ballpark
Updated: July 22, 2014 - 5:08 pm

For a few hours on Saturday morning, Citi Field was transformed into a field of dreams for 125 area children.

The Verizon Kids Clinic, hosted by the Mets, allowed young ballplayers a chance to hone their hitting, pitching and fielding skills under the tutelage of Mets relief pitcher Buddy Carlyle and the team’s third base and bullpen coaches, Tim Teufel and Ricky Bones.

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Tuesday 07/22/2014
More affordable housing planned in Flushing
Updated: July 22, 2014 - 10:29 am

Up to 200 units of mixed-income, affordable housing could be in the offing for Municipal Parking Lot 3 in Downtown Flushing.

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Arrests made in attempted Ridgewood rape
Updated: July 22, 2014 - 10:29 am

Two men are facing lengthy prison terms after being nabbed Friday for allegedly attempting to rape an 18-year-old woman in Ridgewood last week

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Friday 07/18/2014
Queens College lab gets $2M grant
Updated: July 18, 2014 - 2:00 pm

Aspiring scientists at Queens College just got a big boost.

At a press conference Thursday in the Ira Remsen Hall at the college’s Flushing campus, Interim President Evangelos Gizis announced that state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) secured a $2 million funding allocation for a much-needed renovation to a teaching laboratory on the hall’s ground floor.

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State Sen. Avella gets boost from Rep. Israel endorsement
Updated: July 18, 2014 - 11:21 am

Rebel state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), the vocal populist whose move into the Senate's Independent Democratic Conference angered the party establishment and prompted a primary challenge from former City Councilman and Comptroller John Liu, has now won the backing of a key congressman in his re-election campaign.

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Thursday 07/17/2014
NYC comptroller hammers Homeless Services on lack of transparency
Updated: July 22, 2014 - 10:31 am

For weeks, community leaders opposed to a new homeless shelter in Elmhurst and plans for another in Glendale have been urging residents to call or email City Comptroller Scott Stringer to make their opinions known.

Well, it's working.

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Two men wanted for attempted rape in Ridgewood
Updated: July 22, 2014 - 10:15 am

Police are searching for two suspects who allegedly attempted to rob and rape an 18-year-old woman in Ridgewood early Wednesday morning.

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Lyft rideshare on hold as company, TLC talk
Posted: July 17, 2014

Lyft, the rideshare company that connects drivers and riders through mobile apps, has agreed not to start its service in Brooklyn until it meets all requirements of the Taxi and Limousine Commission.

The TLC said Lyft officials began sitting down with them on Monday “to begin discussions on how they may provide for-hire service that is fully compliant with TLC rules.”

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LIRR, unions brace for a Sunday strike
Updated: July 18, 2014 - 4:33 pm

M ore than 5,400 employees of the Long Island Rail Road could walk off the job at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday if there is no progress on a new contract.

The workers are the highest-paid commuter railroad employees in the country, but also have been working without a contract since 2010.

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Tuesday 07/15/2014
They're back: West Nile bugs detected
Posted: July 15, 2014

For the first time this season, the Health Department has detected West Nile virus in New York City mosquitoes.

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Thursday 07/10/2014
Hurricane season is upon us — OEM
Updated: July 17, 2014 - 9:08 am

The city’s Office of Emergency Management last month published updated hurricane evacuation zones.

And while adjustments are slight from ones prepared in the wake of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, OEM has been spending the last few weeks getting the message out about the new maps, and precautions Queens residents should exercise before a storm hits.

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Gasoline prices at six-year high — AAA
Updated: July 17, 2014 - 9:08 am

Summertime, and the livin’ ain’t so easy, at least as far as the sky-high price of gasoline is concerned, but the typical Queens resident seems to be taking a spike in stride.

“Per ounce, gasoline is one of the cheapest liquids available,” said Alex Mermelstein, 32, of Briarwood. “We pay more for milk than we do for gas. Heck, some brands of bottled water are more expensive than gas. So just make peace with it and find the cheapest gas station in your area.”

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Blaz, WFP jolt NY Sen. races; help IDC Dems
Updated: July 17, 2014 - 9:08 am

The strange but true history of the New York State Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference took a turn for the positively wild on Tuesday, with Mayor de Blasio endorsing incumbent IDC members Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and Jeff Klein (D-Bronx).

Adding to the surprise was the announcement that the Working Families Party had withdrawn its backing of former city Comptroller John Liu, who is challenging Avella, and former state Attorney General Oliver Koppell, who is primarying Klein, and will remain neutral in both races

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DOE changes school utilization document
Updated: July 17, 2014 - 9:08 am

The city Department of Education announced last month that it was making changes to its Blue Book — the annual document that outlines school organization and utilization — based on suggestions from a panel created earlier this year by Schools Chancellor Carmen Fari–a.

The Blue Book has been the focus of several education-related debates in the city in recent years, from trailers in schoolyards to co-locations. Critics allege the Bloomberg administration’s Blue Books underestimated how much space schools need and overestimated how much space was available to make co-locations politically palpable.

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Lincoln Center comes to the Queens Library
Updated: July 17, 2014 - 9:08 am

An ensemble of Egyptian belly dancers and musicians and a Mexican band graced the entrance to the Broadway Library in Astoria with their performances on Monday afternoon.

Zykriat, a Queens-based ensemble renowned for extolling the traditions of Egyptian cinema and the greater Arabic world, brought two musicians, who sang a song, as if they were talking to the night, while two dancers in colorful costumes twirled to the music.

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Meng calls for DACA applications, renewals
Updated: July 17, 2014 - 9:08 am

Now is the time to apply for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program or, for those accepted into it two years ago, to renew their status, Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) said Tuesday.

Meng and a handful of immigration activists stood outside Newtown High School in Elmhurst to urge those who applied for DACA two years ago and those who are eligible to apply but haven’t in the past to file with the federal government as soon as possible.

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It takes two to tackle illegal immigrant crisis
Updated: July 17, 2014 - 9:08 am

Last week President Barack Obama announced that he would use executive action to address the country’s immigration system after House Speaker John Boehner stated that the House would not vote on it this year. President Obama recently described the increasing influx of unaccompanied children entering the United States illegally as an “urgent humanitarian issue” and announced the establishment of an interagency group to manage this issue. Although the initiative will provide some relief to the thousands of migrant children currently living in the United States, it ultimately only serves as a Band-Aid solution to a deeply rooted problem that must be solved on both sides of the border. Latin America and the United States must strengthen bilateral cooperation to decrease the number of minors attempting the dangerous journey across the border.

In the absence of comprehensive immigration reform in the United States, the number of unaccompanied minors illegally entering the country continues to worsen every year. In the last nine months alone, 47,000 minors have been detained after entering the U.S. illegally without the company of a parent or relative. This is almost twice as many as last year. Projections put the number of unaccompanied minors at over 100,000 in 2015.

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LIRR, unions on the brink of a strike
Updated: July 17, 2014 - 9:59 am

Gov. Cuomo called for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the unions representing more than 5,400 Long Island Rail Road workers to get back to the bargaining table after Congress announced in Wednesday that it would not intervene to end a pending strike.

The four unions, which conductors and track workers, car inspectors, maintenance and repair workers and others, have been without a contract since 2010.

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Beltrani takes over Queens Republicans
Updated: July 17, 2014 - 9:08 am

Queens Republicans have a new chairman.

After the death of Phil Ragusa last month, the county party’s executive vice chairman, Robert Beltrani of Jackson Heights, was automatically elevated to chairman.

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