In an effort to help families affected by Superstorm Sandy rebuild their homes, the city’s Build it Back program is seeking a new construction manager for Queens.
“Since the mayor’s overhaul, this has been a year of significant progress,” Amy Peterson, director of the mayor’s Office of Housing Recovery, which oversees the Build it Back program, said in an email to the Queens Chronicle. “And we expect the onboarding of new construction firms — who will deploy new strategies to target entire neighborhoods — will continue to accelerate the city’s Sandy recovery.”
Ozone Park resident Eduardo Venegas has been waking up at 5:30 a.m. to the sound of idling school buses for the past two years, and he’s sick of it.
“I’m thinking that I might have to move out of here,” he said. “They honk, double-park and litter all around the street.”
More than 90 percent of city teachers and principals were rated as effective or highly effective in the state’s Annual Professional Performance Review in the first year that the five boroughs were graded under the assessment system.
“For our schools to succeed, we need to hold ourselves accountable for the development of our educators,” city Schools Chancellor Carmen Fari–a said in a written statement after the report was released on Tuesday. “At the same time, a well-developed evaluation system — with four, much more nuanced ratings, instead of only two — helps us identify and provide specific support to struggling teachers, as well as identify those who do not belong in the classroom.”
Margaret Finnerty described her job as School District 27’s family advocate as a juggling act.
“You have to cover parents’ meetings and attend community education council meetings once a month,” she said. “There’s a lot going on throughout the district.”
Close to $5 million has been allocated to the revamping of the Cross Bay Bridge’s infrastructure and electronic equipment that was damaged by Superstorm Sandy, U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) announced last Thursday.
“Superstorm Sandy damaged Rockaway’s critical infrastructure like the Cross Bay Bridge, which connects the community with the rest of Queens and beyond,” Schumer said in a written statement. “I am pleased to announce $4.7 million in FEMA funding which will help repair and protect the Cross Bay Bridge in the event of a future storm.”
State Sen. Diane Savino (D-Staten Island) last week dismissed Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley’s (D-Glendale) assertion about gender discrimination in hiring at the Fire Department, instead arguing that most women are simply not interested to become firefighters or aren’t fit for the job.
Savino made those comments in a Facebook post, moments after a City Council Committee on Fire and Criminal Justice hearing, chaired by Crowley, grilled Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro about the lack of female representation in the department. The state senator dismissed Crowley’s claims that the FDNY is using “excessive testing” and rigorous exercises which cause women to drop out of the academy.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
The same week Mayor de Blasio announced a decrease in civilian police complaints, a grand jury announced the officer accused of killing Eric Garner in an apparent chokehold was not guilty.
A Staten Island grand jury’s decision last week not to indict NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo for the death of Eric Garner has triggered nationwide anger, including among Queens congressional members who are calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to slap a federal indictment against the cop.
At a press conference last week in Washington, moments after the announcement of the decision, lawmakers renewed their calls for the DOJ to launch a federal investigation in Garner’s death. The DOJ said it will probe the man’s death, including how the grand jury reached its decision.
Community Board 9 members have a message for Mayor de Blasio: not in our basements.
Members of the board passed a resolution affirming the board’s opposition to a plan by the mayor to legalize basement dwellings as part of his plan to place or preserve an additional 200,000 units of affordable housing throughout the city.
City Planning officials last Thursday said the objective of the department’s resilient neighborhood study in Old Howard Beach, Hamilton Beach and Broad Channel is to identify ways that people in those areas can be prepared for future floods.
“We want to make sure people have the ability to retrofit their homes,” Thomas Smith, a city planner, said at a presentation given to Community Board 10 members.
The epic battle between animal rights groups and Central Park horse carriage drivers has come to a head as Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) announced a bill that would ban the centuries-old practice from the city’s most iconic park.
“The morality of a nation can be judged by the way society treats its animals,” Dromm said in a prepared statement. “Horses don’t belong on New York City’s congested streets amid cars and pollutions. There have been too many crashes and too many horse deaths and injuries to justify the continuation of this industry.”
A report by a special MTA commission stated last week that the transportation agency must add new transit options in its system to continue serving a growing population, an assessment that Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway Park) sees as supportive of his proposal to reactivate the Rockaway Beach rail line.
“The @ReinventTranspo report agrees with @MTA, elected officials residents, the @NYDailyNews and so many more that we must restore @RBL1910,” Goldfeder said in a tweet shortly after the report was released.
Forty-five struggling public schools throughout the city, including three in Queens, have been partnered with community-based organizations to focus on the individual needs of children, officials announced on Monday.
“For our students to succeed they must be in school learning, and within the community school model, the whole needs of students are addressed,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fari–a in a written statement announcing the program.
Activists, officials furious over Garner case; protest today
Monday night’s decision not to indict Ferguson, Mo. Police Officer Darren Wilson in the August shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown has filled up any openings in the Rev. Phil Craig’s normally busy schedule.
“I’ll be in Staten Island tonight,” said Craig, pastor of The Greater Springfield Community Church in Jamaica on Tuesday afternoon. “I’ll be at the press conference in Manhattan on Wednesday.”
President Obama’s executive order to provide certain undocumented residents with deferred action in case of future reform legislation as a possible pathway to citizenship or deportations was debated over and over again on the news and in legislative offices around the country.
Many activist groups, including Make the Road New York, hosted viewing parties of the president’s speech and tweeted about being excited to hear Obama’s plan.
Many Queens lawmakers back President Obama’s executive order on undocumented immigrants, which says that many who have lived in the United States for at least five years without a criminal record can apply to legally work in the country and be protected from deportation. Up to five million may qualify.
Officials here largely said the move will not alleviate all the problems that exist in the nation’s “broken immigration system,” but is a “welcome step” that will move the country in the right direction.
When Eric Garner died from an apparent chokehold by a police officer in July, city officials and activists were riled up.
Since a video of Garner’s arrest and eventual death hit the internet, people from the Citizens United for Police Reform to City Council called into question the NYPD’s policy for apprehending an individual who is resisting arrest, as Garner was.
State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) is remaining mum on which party he will caucus with in Albany during the next session.
Last February, Avella joined the Independent Democratic Conference, a group of five lawmakers who joined with the minority Republicans to prevent Democrats from leading the Senate and, they said, to stop the logjam in the body. The move angered Queens Democrats, who ran former City Comptroller and Flushing’s favorite son John Liu to oppose him in September’s primary.
the country, are awaiting what they are being told is the imminent decision of a Missouri grand jury that is examining the Aug. 9 shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
Brown was unarmed when he was shot and killed by Ferguson, Mo. Police Officer Darren Wilson. Wilson has claimed that Brown attacked him and that they struggled for the officer’s gun.
A proposal to charge consumers 10 cents for every single-use plastic bag they use at checkout is gaining traction again. City Hall held a discussion Wednesday to discuss a bill introduced by Councilmembers Brad Lander (D-Brooklyn) and Margaret Chin (D-Manhattan) that’s designed to reduce disposable bag use in the city by implementing the 10 cent fee.
According to its sponsors, the goal of the bill isn’t to charge consumers the fee but to incentivize them to change their habits and become more environmentally conscious. Retailers would keep the money and the bill exempts transactions made using food aid programs.
Mayor de Blasio signed two bills into law last week that mandate the city to reject most requests from the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to detain undocumented immigrants for deportation, except in limited circumstances.
Intro. 486-A bars the Police Department and the city Department of Correction from honoring detainer requests without a judicial warrant. Other exceptions include if the immigrant is on the U.S. terrorist watch list, has been convicted of a violent crime or has committed a serious crime in the past five years.
In an era when there are cable news networks devoted to reporting the world of big business and world finance, an Obama administration official was in Bayside last week talking small business.
“Small businesses account for 51 percent of the jobs in this country,” said Maria Contreras-Sweet, administrator of the Small Business Administration.
Two days after the Republicans took control of both chambers in the United States Congress and the New York state Senate, York College hosted a post midterm election talk, which highlighted the implications it has on the nation going forward.
Bad messaging, focusing on the wrong issues and lack of communication are some of the reasons why the democrats lost a large number of their seats across the nation, even in deep-blue states, according Errol Louis, host of the NY1 News political program “Inside City Hall.”
At the 32nd annual legislative forum of the Queens Interagency Council on Aging, held Oct. 24 at Queens Borough Hall, it became clear that while strides are slowly being made toward an improved quality of life for seniors, much work remains to be done.
Perhaps the biggest coup since the last QICA forum was an increase in eligibility for SCRIE, the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption. Through the efforts of state and city lawmakers, the income level was raised from $29,000 to $50,000 per household.
A federal judge in Manhattan last week heard arguments from Haitian cholera victims who filed a lawsuit against the United Nations.
The plaintiffs contend that UN troops stationed in Haiti following a catastrophic earthquake in 2010 caused the cholera breakout that reportedly killed more than 8,000 people since October of that year.
Fortune Society sues R’way landlord over its denial of ex-cons
If Tuesday’s Republican election victories across the nation were the wave many in the media like to call them, the breakwater around Queens held firm for Democrats, even as the GOP tide rose in some districts as close as eastern Long Island and Staten Island.
In most cases the election was a done deal for Queens Democrats running for the Assembly, state Senate and U.S. House of Representatives before a single vote was cast, as they had no Republican opponents. Where they were challenged, they won.
Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing) has two upcoming events affecting his future: a re-election bid in November and the birth of his first child in December.
“We are having a daughter and I’m excited about it,” Kim said in a sitdown interview at the Queens Chronicle office on Tuesday. “But I am concerned about her future with issues about education and women’s equality.”
A proposition on Tuesday’s ballot that could take electoral redistricting out of the direct hands of the state Legislature is coming under fire from the Jamaica branch of the NAACP.
Leroy Gadsden, the chapter president, was joined on Monday by civic and clergy leaders at a press conference outside the group’s St. Albans offices.
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, the Republican candidate for governor, has some advice for anyone looking at the polls showing him far behind incumbent Democratic Gov. Cuomo: Don’t believe them.
“This race is going to be a lot closer than people think,” Astorino said.
With Election Day around the corner, residents across Queens are firing up to cast their votes Tuesday.
In the race for governor, incumbent Democrat Andrew Cuomo is challenged by Republican Rob Astorino, the Westchester County executive.
Democratic state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli faces Republican Robert Antonacci, the Onondaga County comptroller.
Democratic Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is up against John Cahill, former chief of staff to Governor George Pataki.
Public and private schools across the city and state could be getting updated technology into the classroom, if a $2 billion bond referendum is approved by voters during the Nov. 4 midterm election.
The referendum, formally known as the Smart Schools Bond Act, is proposed to place advanced technology and high-speed internet connectivity in classrooms across the state, according to the ballot language.
There are few things vaguer to New York voters than ballot propositions that are often as hard to understand as they are hard to locate on a ballot. This Election Day one such ballot proposal New York voters will be asked to decide on is a legislatively referred constitutional amendment to create a redistricting commission to establish state legislative and congressional districts.
Redistricting is the once-a-decade process in which the legislative districts are adjusted to reflect shifts in population. In New York, like most states, the Legislature has for years had primary control of the redistricting process and that has resulted in districts that tend to protect incumbents and produce noncompetitive elections.
When it comes to the controversy surrounding Rachel Noerdlinger, chief of staff to Mayor de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, the vast majority of city lawmakers from Queens have nothing to say.
Asked on Monday whether they support Noerdlinger’s continued employment as McCray’s top aide, only three of the 14 City Council members from Queens would answer the question.
Public Advocate Letitia James and 32 members of the City Council have sent a letter calling on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to reject a series of ads that they say are anti-Muslim and could provoke violence.
The ads were purchased by the group American Freedom Defense Initiative, which claims they tell the truth about the dangers of radical Islam.
Testing, testing, one, two, three ...
That’s what students do when they want to get into one of the city’s eight elite high schools — Stuyvesant, Bronx Science and the like, including, in this borough, Queens High School for the Sciences at York College.
Every 15 seconds, a woman in the United States is battered.
That adds up to more than 16,000 homicides and more than two million medically treated injuries due to intimate partner violence each year in this country.
The Civil Rights Division of the U.S Department of Justice has announced that it may launch a probe into the Police Department’s “broken windows” policy, which civil rights advocates say targets minorities for petty crimes.
The DOJ’s announcement came in response to a joint letter that six New York Congressional members sent to Washington in August. They urged the department to launch an investigation into the caught-on-camera chokehold death of Staten Island man Eric Garner and the broken windows policy they said Garner was a victim of.
If Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) is successful, Glendale will soon secede from neighboring Ridgewood, at least in the eyes of the United States Postal Service.
On Monday, the congresswoman introduced legislation calling for a new ZIP code for Glendale, which has shared Ridgewood’s 11385 since 1979.
Republican candidate for Governor Rob Astorino met with small business owners in Elmhurst on Tuesday to reach out to working-class and Hispanic voters.
“This is a mix of New York. Everything and everyone is here,” Astorino said of the Queens neighborhood. The candidate conversed with storeowners, restauranteurs and residents walking down the street in near-fluent Spanish.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn, Queens) paid a visit to Community Board 10 last Thursday to discuss the federal response to Hurricane Sandy and resiliency measures that are being taken in its aftermath.
“Normally, I’m in Washington, D.C. during the time in which this board meets,” he said. “But of course we’re in recess for the next few weeks and I wanted to make sure I made it my business to come out to be with you this evening and just share a brief thought about some of the things we are working on in partnership with the Army Corps of Engineers that may be relevant to the residents still recovering from Sandy and concerned about resiliency efforts.”
With thousands of undocumented, unaccompanied minors facing possible deportation and the federal government not doing as much reforming as city officials would like, the City Council has taken it upon itself to assist the immigrant youth who are unable to pay for proper legal representation while in immigration court.
Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan), the Robin Hood Foundation and New York Community Trust announced the new Unaccompanied Minor Children Initiative last week — a $1.9 million public-private partnership that will provide funding to legal organizations to address the need for free legal representation and access to social, mental health and medical services.
After a summer hiatus, the Howard Beach-Lindenwood Civic Association resumed its meeting schedule on Tuesday evening at St. Helen School cafeteria.
The more than 300 neighborhood residents who packed the meeting heard from elected officials and representatives of city agencies. Many expressed their concerns about area problems including rodents and traffic on residential streets.
Whether a high score on the SHSAT — Specialized High School Admissions Test — ought to remain the single gateway to eight of the city’s elite high schools has become a hotly daebated issue.
Two bills being debated in Albany would require multiple criteria — including middle school attendance records, grade point averages and state test scores — play a role in admissions decisions.
State Assemblyman Bill Scarborough (D-Jamaica) was arrested Wednesday morning and charged with felony grand larceny, filing false campaign documents and fraud.
The announcement of 33 city cultural institutions partnering with the municipal identification program is considered a major victory for Council members in support of the bill.
The citywide identification card will be made available to every New Yorker, regardless of resident status. Because of the universal availability, it had been dubbed as the “illegal immigrants card,” a name many people, including the bill’s sponsor Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) ,have been fighting to shake off.
Sometimes showing up is all it takes to make a difference. When 310,000 people showed up for the People’s Climate March on Sunday in Manhattan, they showed that climate change matters to the masses.
Ban Ki-Moon, the secretary general of the United Nations, linked arms with marchers in solidarity, two days before the United Nations summit began on Tuesday. The summit’s goals are to mobilize global politicians to forge a universal climate agreement in Paris by December 2015.
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