I was shocked, saddened and disappointed with the recent Juniper Park Civic Association articles and letters sent to the local papers and printed in the Berry, which quite frankly, are inaccurate and insulting. For 15 years, I have worked closely with the JPCA and its executive board. I’ve watched as my mentor and friend, former Councilman Tom Ognibene, was chosen as its first “Man of the Year” and I remember taking pride as a member of the team that contributed so much to the operation and accomplishments of the JPCA. In December 2002, Bob Holden wrote an article and printed it in the Juniper Berry titled “Councilman Dennis P. Gallagher: Right on Target,” highlighting my ability to be a skilled debater and for having the moral courage to vote against the largest tax increase in the history of the City of New York.
In the March 2002 edition of the Juniper Berry, another article was written by Lorraine Sciulli titled, “Gallagher: The Man Who Saved Middle Village,” stating “Council member Gallagher has shown himself to be an energetic council member who brings a common sense approach to government. He is accessible and accountable and is fighting for the interests of the communities and the people that he represents, neighbors like you and me.”
The July 2002 issue of the Juniper Berry’s Community Views section extended praise for my ability to fund local projects for our parks, schools, seniors and youth during the most difficult of fiscal times. It also stated that “following in the footsteps of Thomas Ognibene would be difficult, but it is clear that Council member Dennis P. Gallagher is more than up to the task.”
Articles appeared in later editions highlighting my work on the Elmhurst Gas Tank site and for being an effective leader in opposition to the Cross Harbor Tunnel plan. I was proud to have worked with the community in successfully leading the petition drive that ultimately led to the defeat of this neighborhood destroying plan. Other articles praised me for having the courage to stand up to those who wanted to spend millions of taxpayer dollars on brochures written in multiple languages.
Just last year, Holden again penned an article honoring me as the “JPCA Man of the Year” and the “Defender of the Middle Class.” So just what happened in one year? I guess I had the unmitigated gall to disagree with him on how to proceed with certain community issues.
One of the primary topics of Holden’s attack is regarding St Savior’s. No one should confuse a difference of opinion with a lack of support. The JPCA executive board wanted a costly legal battle. I, after consulting with multiple legal counsels, believed that the legal avenue was the wrong way to handle an issue that seemed legally to be in the owner’s favor. I advocated an approach through negotiations to preserve St. Savior’s and the character of the surrounding property. Now, the courts have spoken—JPCA’s legal action has been dismissed. The owner is free to tear down all the structures at the site, but he has not. It has been my continued negotiations that have prevented the site from being demolished. I give credit to JPCA for their being able to initially stop the demolition. I hope that they would be able to give me credit for stopping the demolition now. At the most recent Community Board 5 meeting, I notified the board of the possibility of a compromise that would preserve St. Savior’s. An overwhelming majority of the community board members seem ready and willing to support a compromise. I firmly believe that the community will benefit from this dual approach.
What I have learned recently is what many of my colleagues in government learned before me—if you don’t agree with Holden on one issue, you pay the price of a personal political attack and assassination of your character in the Juniper Berry, or in letters to the editors by his executive board members.
We’ve seen it before, whether it was Congressman Joseph Crowley, Congressman Anthony Weiner, Assemblywoman Marge Markey, Councilwoman Melinda Katz, and most recently myself. It is not only elected officials who are attacked, it is members and former members of JPCA. A perfect example was March’s meeting, when members disagreed with Holden and he angrily dismissed them stating, “Come on folks … All of you get out of here. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.” This was clearly inappropriate for a “public town hall meeting.” Or, in the September meeting, in which I was refused an opportunity to speak and a PTA mother had the microphone pulled from her and then given her $20 dues back. These actions are indefensible and are an embarrassment to our community, and clearly casts a negative shadow over Holden’s accomplishments.
The JPCA is not the executive board nor its president—but its members—of which I am proud to be one. I will strive to the best of my ability to provide the best quality service as I have for the past five years as your councilman, and for the past 20 years as a dedicated public servant. I will always work on behalf of the best interest of the community I call home and am proud to serve.
New York City Council member,
30th Council District
I am responding to letters written by Pat Lease and Marie Carlson concerning Bob Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association. I had a front row seat at the civic association meeting and Councilman Dennis Gallagher’s actions were, to say theleast, reprehensible.
Clearly, Gallagher is worried.Prior to the meeting, his cohorts handed out an inflammatory letter. He attempted to hijack the meeting by packing the audience with his own people (politicos, etc. You could tell them apart by the suits they were wearing.) to loudly and obnoxiously applaud him and harass Holden. One of them sat next to me and my neighbor and, clearly, he was not from the community—sitting there eyeing most of us contemptuously in his expensive suit. The councilman’s people were rude and repeatedly spoke out of order. But Holden persevered and maintained control. The councilman brought big gun Sen. Serphin Maltese with him. He also previously formed his own civic association in Maspeth.This is a man who has run unopposed for years.
Do we have to ask ourselves why developers are all over Queens tearing down single family homes and pressuring people to sell to make way for dense housing?
Holden has been serving the interests of the small property owner for years. He does this without any financial renumeration. He is a man of principle and integrity. He deserves our respect and gratitude.
I say to the good, honest people of Middle Village and Maspeth, no councilman should run unopposed.Take back your community and vote them and their ilk out of office.
Karaoke Bar Attack
Since my appointment to the State Liquor Authority just under a year ago, I have worked to bring the SLA to the people we serve by attending meetings with community boards, neighborhood associations and local government leaders throughout the state.During these meetings, I have found much confusion exists concerning the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law and specifically with regard to what is conventionally referred to as the “500 Foot Rule” and the “200 Foot Rule.”
Under the 200 Foot Rule, no full liquor license, meaning spirits, wine and beer, can be issued if an establishment is on the same street and within 200 feet of a school, church, synagogue or other place of worship.The rule also applies to liquor stores. There are two exceptions under the law; if the establishment existed prior to the enactment of the law or if the establishment was present prior to the school or place of worship. The 200 Foot Rule does not apply to what are referred to as on premises wine licenses. These are licenses that allow a business to sell beer or wine only, for consumption on the premises.
The 500 Foot Rule prohibits the Authority from issuing a full liquor license for on premises establishments when there are already three or more establishments with full liquor licensees within 500 feet.The law provides only two exceptions.Those establishments that were operating prior to the law’s enactment were grandfathered in. In addition, the Authority may also approve the application if, after consulting with the municipality or community board, it determines that granting the license would be in the public interest.
The establishment referenced in the Queens Chronicle’s Oct. 12 article, Pastel Karaoke Bar, applied for a wine license, and therefore, is not subject to either the 200 or 500 Foot rules. However, properly issuing licenses is only part of what the SLA does. Protecting the public from dangerous bars and clubs is the SLA’s critical responsibility and an enforcement priority.
Since taking over the State Liquor Authority in February, Chairman Daniel Boyle and the members of the board have sent a clear signal to licensees that dangerous bars that pose a threat to the public will not be tolerated. Since the start of this year, the board has voted to terminate 194 liquor licenses and issued four emergency summary suspensions in New York City.The message we are sending bar and club owners is simple: If you operate unruly, dangerous establishments, you will lose the privilege of holding your liquor license.
With respect to the appalling murder of Junghwa Lee, I want to assure Bayside residents the SLA is looking at whether this bar is responsible. If the bar is found to have violated the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law, consistent with Liquor Authority policy, they will be punished accordingly.
Joshua Toas, Esq.,
chief executive officer,
New York State Liquor Authority,
Albany Term Limits
What is it going to take to shake the voters of Queens from their unexplainable support of convicted politicians? Even after state Sen. Ada Smith was accused of assaulting a staffer and a state officer, 49 percent of voters in her district pulled the lever for her in the primary election. Even as former Councilman Allan Jennings’ behavior continued to deteriorate, voters in his district gave him a second term, before finally ousting him from office last year. So should it come as any surprise that some of Brian McLaughlin’s former constituents and union members continue to firmly stand behind him?
No matter how criminal the behavior of some of our elected officials, their status as incumbents makes it intimidating for serious primary challengers, and for anyone to question their behavior. The longer they serve in office, the more comfortable they become with their position. The solution is term limits. It works for the City Council (against the wishes of some of its members) and it can work for Albany. Term limits will make elections more competitive, and make our elected officials more accountable for their actions. Maybe then the voters of Queens will wake up and stop blindly supporting lawbreaking lawmakers.
A monument in Flushing Meadows Park in a story in the Oct. 5 edition was incorrectly named. It is the heads of state monument.