The war against charter schools being waged by much of the education establishment and City Hall on multiple fronts continues unabated.Now it’s at the point where the state education commissioner can’t even publicly demonstrate support for ch…
So, Queens got treated as a second-class borough after last weekend’s colossal snowstorm. What else is new?
At least many of our elected officials let City Hall know it was doing a lousy job and got the administration to redeploy plows and other equipment to get on the ball here. Credit goes to the likes of Queens Councilmen Rory Lancman, Eric Ulrich and Jimmy Van Bramer, the majority leader, for letting Mayor de Blasio know in no uncertain terms that initial efforts to clean up the snow here failed tens of thousands of residents. Van Bramer even toured some of his district with de Blasio so the mayor could see the mess firsthand.
In what’s being sold as an attempt to reform Albany, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics just passed an utterly unethical measure that amounts to a full frontal assault on the First Amendment. We urge the state Legislature to intervene immediately by passing a law overturning this unelected panel’s insidious attempt to restrict free speech and the press. Immediately.
JCOPE thinks any public relations consultant who speaks to a newspaper opinion writer must register as a lobbyist and report his or her contacts with the media. That’s a disgrace. The press is given as wide latitude as it is by the Constitution for good reason, and the men who wrote it would never, ever, ever have entertained the idea that in their new, free country any private citizens would have to report conversations with newspaper writers to the government. The move “is a reasonable regulation of speech,” JCOPE’s chairman said. The hell it is, you wannabe Soviet apparatchik.
After throwing out platitudes about good intentions and respect, City Councilman Dan Garodnick of Manhattan summed the situation up well on Wednesday, as reported by the Gotham Gazette: “[W]ith this bill we are interjecting local government into private enterprise in a way that we should not be doing. We are going too far.”
The issue is the city’s latest power grab, which Mayor de Blasio will sign into law soon, a bill preventing supermarkets that buy out a rival from firing anyone whatsoever for three months. That slacker who never shows up on time? He’s got tenure. The guy making $27 an hour to slice meat? The one who mouths off to customers? The store’s stuck with them too. Along with all the hard workers who’d be kept on regardless.
Last Friday afternoon the gates were down on Councilman Ruben Wills’ Jamaica office when one of our editors stopped by hoping to discuss his legal problems. Staffers were there, but constituents weren’t welcome.
It’s time to pull the gates down on Wills’ career for good. He faces a 12-count indictment for allegedly stealing money from his own campaign as well as a state grant secured by one of his cronies, former state Sen. Shirley Huntley, who served prison time for corruption.
Why are Flushing Meadows Corona Park and neighboring areas such magnets for dumb ideas?
Whether it’s long-ago Borough President Donald Manes’ plan to turn the park into a racetrack, Major League Soccer’s proposal to build a stadium on ground that probably wouldn’t even support it, or major developers’ ongoing claim that they can build a mall on parkland without state approval, the hits just keep on coming for the park.
As the war between Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio continues, the latest victims could be college students — and probably city taxpayers too. Cuomo seems ready to throw them all under the bus just to hurt the mayor.
Cuomo’s budget proposal would include a $240 million cut in aid to the City University of New York’s four-year colleges, money that would have to be made up for with higher tuition, the redirection of city funds, a tax hike or some combination of all three. All that to fund pay hikes for CUNY workers.
Everyone in America aside from the merchants of death in the firearms industry and their enablers in the National Rifle Association and halls of Congress should be thankful President Obama is finally taking meaningful executive action to reduce gun violence in the face of intransigence on Capitol Hill.
If all his directives and proposals are followed, no longer will people be able to acquire firearms through loopholes that allow them to avoid background checks that could reveal reasons they shouldn’t get them. The Federal Bureau of Investigation will be able to expedite the system of checking backgrounds, reducing needless delays for those who should be allowed to buy a gun, by hiring 230 new people. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will get 200 more agents to enforce existing gun control laws. Another $500 million will go toward mental health services. And more research will be done on smart-gun technology, such as that which only lets the owner of a weapon fire it by reading fingerprints.
All through 2015, community volunteers you may or may not know have been working to improve the quality of life in Queens, as they do every year, many to no or little fanfare. They’ve been growing gardens on what had been desolate lots, raising money for charity, working to protect historical structures, keeping an eye out for criminal activity, and much more. It would be impossible to cite them all in this space, but we wish to thank at least a few who stand out in our minds as the year comes to a close.
Start with Ryan and Danielle Allen of Howard Beach, who suffered a great tragedy when their 2-year-old daughter, Valentina Marie, died last May of severe birth defects. The Allens did not suffer silently and withdraw, as parents in their position understandably might. Instead they joined with other
members of the community, such as family friend Phyllis Inserillo and Gold’s Gym manager Justine Orr, to give back to those who had done their best by Valentina, by raising tens of thousands of dollars for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where their daughter had been treated. While the direct beneficiary of the effort was the hospital, all of South Queens was elevated as the entire community came together in honor of the Allens’ little angel. “Team Valentina” was quite unlike anything we have seen before.
Maybe now that Mayor de Blasio is finally shaking up the Department of Homeless Services there’ll be some improvements in how that embattled agency fulfills its mission. Things are a mess as they stand now.
Forget for the moment about how the DHS has repeatedly misled the people of Queens when it comes to where it plans to house homeless people. That’s a travesty, but even worse than how it treats the taxpayers is how it treats its clients.
You would think that when Mayor de Blasio wisely chose not to join in the appeal filed by developers in Avella et al. v. City of New York et al., that would be enough for the rest of our elected officials.
But unfortunately, it wasn’t. Perhaps showing their true colors, nearly every member of the City Council voted on Wednesday to file a friend-of-the-court brief in the case, backing the illegal construction of a 1.4 million-square-foot mall next to Citi Field. The move is an outrage.