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Richmond Hill is one of the older communities in Queens, and got its own high school in 1899, when there were only a few in the borough.
The school was unusual in that it had an astronomy observatory and telescope, built at a cost of $6,000. The first principal was not an administrator but respected mathematician and astronomer Issac Newton Failor (1851-1925). The RHHS yearbook and newsletters were dubbed “The Dome.”
In a city the size of New York, politics and crime are often the biggest newsmakers, as was the case in 2013.
There was no shortage of political headlines this past year, an election year at that. Queens elected a new borough president while Forest Hills and Rego Park opted to bring back Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) for another term. Area politicians made their collective voices heard throughout the year, filling the Chronicle’s pages for months.
It could be said that 2013 was a good year to be a political junkie in New York City with Public Advocate Bill de Blasio being elected mayor, and Eliot Spitzer and Anthony Weiner enjoying short-lived political comeback tours.
It also proved to be a bad year to be a school advocate, a Republican seeking elective office or former state Sen. Shirley Huntley.
When Mayor Bloomberg leaves office at the end of this month, he will do so having a legacy of completely transforming the largest school system in the nation.
Whether that transformation has been positive or negative is a contentious argument that will continue to define the legacy of the city’s longest-serving mayor in nearly half a century.
The end of the election season did not mean that Queens politicians would be sleeping on Saturday, when Borough President-Elect Melinda Katz, Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) and former Congressman Anthony Weiner were in Richmond Hill handing out Thanksgiving groceries at the River Fund food pantry.
Lynne Serpe, one of several candidates looking to take the District 22 City Council seat being vacated by Peter Vallone Jr. in January, says residents are in need of a change.
“Democracy is about choice,” she said. “This is the first time in a long time that the seat is completely open. For me, this election really gives the voters the opportunity to move forward and move forward in a way that is sustainable.”
For some, the Democratic Party’s long, competitive and sometimes bruising primary for mayor ended not with a bang, but with a whimper.
But for city Democrats, desperate to win back City Hall for the first time in two decades, that whimper came with a smile, a handshake and perhaps a sigh of relief on Monday.
We congratulate all the winners of Tuesday’s primaries. Many are de facto winners of the general election because they have no opponent in the other party, which underscores the importance of primaries.
Not every race went the way we had hoped, as regular readers of this page know. But winners and losers alike fought hard, and, for the most part, over substantive issues.
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio took a commanding lead in Tuesday’s Democratic primary for mayor, and may have won enough votes to avoid having a runoff election.
De Blasio scored 40.1 percent of the votes, according to preliminary Board of Elections figures. His closest rival was former Comptroller Bill Thompson, who won 26.2 percent. But not all votes have been counted yet.
With Primary Day two weeks away, the Bay Terrace Community Alliance held a candidates forum Tuesday night at the Bay Terrace Jewish Center in Bayside, with nine mayoral hopefuls in attendance, in addition to the six candidates for City Council District 19, four for public advocate and one for comptroller.
The moderators, BTCA President Warren Schreiber and Vice President Phil Konigsberg, asked questions on a variety of topics.
The city’s at a crossroads. The next mayor will face serious challenges even before you consider the unexpected. The choice of whom we elect will largely determine whether the gains of the last couple decades are maintained or we reverse course. You’ve heard it all before. But that’s because it’s true.
These are uncertain times. When will Wall Street’s recovery finally make its way to Main Street? How will roughly 150 new city union contracts be hammered out without either bankrupting the taxpayer or shortchanging the worker? Will violent crime begin to rise again? Will the next terrorist plot be successful? How can the schools be improved without leaving so many children behind?
Why are so many newspaper editorial boards along with other candidates calling upon former Congress member and mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner to drop out of the NYC Democratic Party primary with less than 4 weeks to go. Are they afraid that voters couldn’t care less about Weiner’s so-called scandal and he just might actually win?
There was a Christine Quinn sighting in Floral Park Tuesday evening.
Council Speaker Quinn (D-Manhattan) came out on offense against Public Advocate Bill de Blasio at a forum for mayoral candidates at North Shore Towers.
This was going to be the Scott Stringer endorsement for the Democratic nomination for city comptroller. The Manhattan borough president has served his constituents well, with integrity. He’d make a fine candidate to face Republican John Burnett in November, and if he were to win, a fine comptroller, we figured. He was certainly a safer bet than his primary opponent, former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who had, after all, resigned in disgrace after doubtlessly committing illegal acts.
But then we met with both candidates, Stringer last Friday and Spitzer on Monday. And, after much deliberation, we changed our minds.
Public Advocate and mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio stood in front of Haveli, an Indian cuisine restaurant located at 116-33 Queens Blvd. in Forest Hills, on Friday to lay out his proposed changes to the city’s approach to small immigrant businesses.
“The bottom line is, we have a lot tobe proud of as New Yorkers but we need to make sure our economy works for everyone,” said de Blasio, who toured small businesses throughout the city last week. “We need to make sure that there is opportunity for everyone.”
On Monday a federal U.S. District Court judge ruled that stop and frisk, the controversial practice that allows police officers to stop and search any individual they deem suspicious, unconstitutional as it stands.
“… the City is liable for the violation of plaintiffs’ Fourth and 14th Amendment rights,” Judge Shira Scheindlin, who presided over the cases challenging the practice, wrote. “The idea of universal suspicion without individual evidence is what Americans find abhorrent and what black men in America must constantly fight. It is pervasive in policing policies — like stop and frisk, and … neighborhood watch — regardless of the collateral damage done to the majority of innocents. It’s like burning a house down to rid it of mice.”
And the reports show that citywide races are still up for grabs among major candidates.
The following figures do not include those who have suspended their campaigns, or have reported little or no campaign fundraising or spending.
The candidates to replace Bloomberg responded quickly to the test scores on Wednesday, with City Comptroller John Liu, a Democratic candidate, releasing a statement Tuesday, even before the results were made public. In a statement, Liu accused the Bloomberg administration of “cooking the books” on test scores for the last 12 years and creating a culture in which students graduate having learned little.
“Pointing to rising high-school graduation rates, the mayor claimed that high-stakes testing was leading to greater student achievement and teacher accountability,” he said. “He excoriated teachers and others who pointed out the flaws in his analysis. In fact, the regime of teaching to the tests pushed kids out the schoolhouse door, even if their diplomas were worthless and their skills did not permit them to succeed in college or jobs.”
We were disappointed, but not surprised, to see that U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin determined that the Police Department’s aggressive use of stop and frisk is unconstitutional. Scheindlin clearly had determined that before hearing the first word of testimony in the case that resulted in her anti-police, anti-city, anti-peace ruling on Monday.
Scheindlin found that the NYPD’s use of stop and frisk to search people deemed suspicious, primarily in an effort to get guns off the street, violates the rights of citizens in two ways. First, it violates the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure. Second, it violates the 14th Amendment dictum of equal protection under the law by targeting black and Latino citizens far more often than whites.
The candidates to replace Bloomberg responded quickly to the test scores on Wednesday
Anthony Weiner brought his flagging campaign to Long Island City on Monday to discuss a 16-page paper on helping the middle class.
Public advocate candidate Reshma Saujani is calling for an end to the scandals and the gossip in New York City politics.
“We’re in a heightened celebrity culture,” Saujani said. “More people have seen a picture of a candidate’s private parts than have a knowledge of what the candidate’s stances are.”
The mayoral frontrunners from both major parties chose to skip a candidates forum in Laurelton last week.
But those hoping to force their way into a runoff after the Sept. 10 primaries took full advantage of the platform offered by the Concerned Citizens of Laurelton to make their case before about 200 potential voters.
Anthony Weiner came to Long Island City on Monday to introduce an addendum to his “Keys to the City” papers, the latest being 16 pages designed, he said, to keep New York City “the capital of the middle class.”
The 61 itemized points cover healthcare, crime, education, transportation and infrastructure and tax reform among other topics.
On Aug. 4, Jackson Heights was filled with Ecuadorian pride. Thousands of people turned out to the Ecuadorian Day parade that ran along Northern Boulevard from 69th to 87th streets.
In addition to the colorful floats and sea of people, mayoral candidates Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Anthony Weiner and Joe Lhota showed their support by sporting yellow, red and blue — the colors of the Ecuadorian flag.