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Gov. Cuomo’s Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption quoted a recording purported to be embattled City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) last week as it reported preliminary findings on the state of money and influence in New York politics.
“Not about whether or will, it’s about how much, and that’s our politicians in New York, they’re all like that,” Halloran is alleged to have told an undercover investigator. “And they get like that because of the drive that the money does for everything else. You can’t get anything without the f---ing money.”
As a Queens resident who has had to deal with the issue of increased airplane noise in our borough, I’m writing to commend our local elected officials — specifically Reps. Steve Israel and Grace Meng, state Sen. Tony Avella and Assemblyman Edward Braunstein — for their work to curb airplane noise over our neighborhoods, and to create an Airplane Noise Community Roundtable. Their work has paid off after Gov. Cuomo recently directed the Port Authority to both monitor noise levels and form a roundtable. Increased airplane noise has been detrimental to the quality of life of so many in our community, and it’s encouraging that Queens residents will now be able to voice their concerns.
Queens has a rapidly growing elderly population facing severe problems, such as mental illness. Fortunately, there’s a place where many troubled seniors get help — Club Pride, part of the Pride of Judea Mental Health Center at 243-02 Northern Blvd. in Douglaston.
Funded by the Jewish Board of Family & Children’s Services and New York City’s Dept. of Mental Health & Hygiene, Club Pride (launched in 1997) is a geriatric psycho-social club. It provides counseling, therapy and social re-adjustment services for Queens residents, from 55 to 94, who suffer from mental illness & substance abuse. Clients come from Flushing, Kew Gardens Hills, Whitestone, College Point & Bayside.
They’re referred by psychiatrists and other mental health providers, after their discharge from psychiatric and chronic care hospitals. If not for Club Pride, many of them would have to be reinstitutionalized, at a heavy cost to taxpayers.
Club Pride provides daily transportation to members via two buses for the Flushing and Bayside areas. But Flushing bus service will end on Dec. 6 due to budget cuts. Many riders are physically disabled. They can’t use public transportation and can’t afford Access-A-Ride’s daily $5 roundtrip fare. They’re distressed by the fear of losing Club Pride’s vital assistance.
Don’t let this happen. Contact U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (212) 486-4430, Congresswoman Grace Meng (718) 445-7860, State Sen. Tony Avella (718) 357-3094, City Councilman Mark Weprin (718) 468-0137 and Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio (212) 669-7200. Urge them to save an essential resource for their constituents.
It was only last week that the Borough Board approved the city’s sale of 23 acres of Willets Point to a development group composed of the Mets’ real estate arm and the Related Companies for all of $1. So we see no reason the city can’t wait a little longer for the many small businesses it’s kicking out of the area to move.
In order to get the full year’s rent money they were promised for their new locations, businesses must move out by this weekend. But many are not ready to do that. If they move by Jan. 1, they can get six months’ worth of rent.
The blighted “Valley of Ashes” is undergoing the first round of relocation compensation deadlines on Nov. 30 but business owners and state Sen. Tony Avella are asking for an extension.
The ongoing Willets Point development plan is hard to pin down. It is a project with many moving parts that has been lauded as one of the best development deals made in the borough’s history, while at the same time denigrated as an attack on the lower class and outer-borough business owners.
But the colossal plan that has struggled to get its bearings for some time has gained stability over the past few months — after the City Council approved the revised version — and will take its first steps on Saturday when the first round of business relocations will be completed.
A full audience of Jackson Heights residents raised their hands Monday night when Janet McEneany, the president of Queens Quiet Skies, asked if they were tired of planes flying over their houses every minute, one after another, like a brigade of B52 bombers.
McEneany and Bob Whitehair, founders of Queens Quiet Skies, an advocacy organization that fights for noise regulations, gave their 26th community education presentation as part of a town hall meeting on the issue organized by Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights). Representatives from the Port Authority and the Federal Aviation Administration were also in attendance.
The City Council’s Public Safety Committee, chaired by Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), held a hearing on the councilman’s proposed law that would require the Police Department to submit reports of crime in all parks and playgrounds that are greater than one acre in size to the Council.
As it stands, the NYPD only discloses crime data from the city’s 31 largest parks.
State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) was joined on Saturday by Flushing residents at a rally calling on the MTA to allocate funding to change the location of the Q34 bus layover. Avella and residents have been advocating for this for the past few years.
The layover spot is on a narrow two-way street immediately adjacent to the exit of Flushing Memorial Fields. Residents near the Q34 layover location report that the buses are a danger to pedestrians and motorists because the buses travel through and park on the narrow residential block.
Whitestone resident John McHugh Sr. was honored last week by the Jefferson Democratic Club of Northeast Queens for his service during World War II.
Assemblyman Ed Braunstein presented a proclamation and state Sen. Tony Avella presented a resolution saluting McHugh who is a veteran of the Battle of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge. He is the recipient of many awards including the Silver Star for gallantry in action and the Bronze Star for meritorious service.
The City Council voted overwhelmingly to approve a school at the site of Keil Brothers Garden Center in Bayside Hills, despite the plan having being delayed and thought to be dead.
The Council approved the 416-seat school Thursday 36-2, with Council members Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens) and Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) voting no. Vallone’s brother, Paul, is the councilman-elect for the district that includes portions of Bayside Hills.
Queens residents who are tired of loud airplanes flying over their homes too frequently are actually happy about Gov. Cuomo’s veto of a bill that would have required the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to conduct a noise and land use compatibility study — if an identical measure passes in New Jersey — because he doesn’t want to wait.
Instead, he’s taking executive action.
The City Council voted overwhelmingly to approve a school at the site of the current Keil Brothers Garden Center in Bayside Hills, despite the plan having being delayed and thought to be dead.
State Sen. Tony Avella, center, honored veterans recently. They are Frederick Hensel, left, Michael Daughtry, Shin Il Han, Young Soo Lee, Yeong Bae Choi and Paul Narson.
Five area veterans were honored last week for their military service by state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside).
The men received state resolutions during a ceremony and celebration in the senator’s Bayside office.
State Sen. Tony Avella, left, with Bruce Pienkny of City Solve removing graffiti.
State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) has been fighting graffiti since before he became an elected city official in 2002. Now he’s instituting a program for his entire district.
The 11th District includes College Point, Whitestone, Flushing, North Flushing, Auburndale, Bayside, Bay Terrace, Little Neck, Douglaston, Floral Park, Glen Oaks, New Hyde Park, Bellerose, Fresh Meadows, Hollis, Queens Village and Jamaica.
On Wednesday, Oct. 30, at 6 p.m. in the International High School at Prospect Heights, the Department of Education’s Panel on Educational Policy voted on all co-location proposals. Martin Van Buren High School, IS 59, August Martin High School, PS 40, JHS 226, MS 72 and the Corona Arts and Sciences Academy are the schools in Queens facing co-location.
Last week, the DOE called off its plans to co-locate a new elementary school in the building of PS 1 after parents, teachers and elected officials spoke at the hearing against the proposal. At the Martin Van Buren High School co-location hearing on Oct. 23, state Sen. Tony Avella, Councilman Mark Weprin and I — along with parents, teachers, civic leaders, students and community members — urged the department to hold off on its plans to co-locate a new school in the building. However, the DOE has ignored our request for a meeting and is instead pushing through with the proposal.
Democratic incumbents for City Council Districts 20 and 23 have only minor party opposition in Tuesday’s elections.
Councilman Peter Koo of Flushing has no Republican opponent in the District 20 race, but will face three third-party candidates. They are Sunny Hahn on the Reform ticket, Martha Flores-Vazquez on the Independent Jobs and Education ballot, and Evergreen Chou, representing the Green Party.
A public hearing on Oct. 23 predictably brought out hundreds of staunch defenders of Martin Van Buren High School who want a new principal to get the time he was promised to turn the school around.
What those defenders may not have anticipated, however, was an unusually large and highly vocal group of nearby homeowners and civic groups who are very supportive of Mayor Bloomberg’s plans to co-locate a Pathways in Technology program in the school next year.
Developers of the $850 million Flushing Commons mixed-use development project are calling reports that work will begin this week premature. It’s actually set to start early next year.
Last week, Crain’s and other business publications announced that the project, which has been delayed three years due to lack of financing, would begin on Thursday, Oct. 31. The date was allegedly the latest allowed by the city’s Economic Development Corp. for the developers, TDC Development and Construction Corp. and Rockefeller Group Development Corp. to begin.
“MVB don’t want to share! Mayor Bloomberg, he don’t care!”
Thus went the battle cry on the steps of Martin Van Buren High School last Friday as more than 200 students, joined by elected officials, marched against the Department of Education’s effort to lower the Bellerose school’s enrollment next year to accommodate a Pathways in Technology, or P-Tech, charter school in the building.
The City Council pulled discussion of a proposed elementary school in Bayside off its agenda this week, possibly killing the controversial plan entirely.
The Department of Education wants to site the new elementary school at the location of Keil Brothers Garden Center at 210-11 48 Ave.
Mudslinging was the order of the day on Monday as a former Democratic candidate in the 19th City Council District endorsed the Republican nominee and had plenty to say about his opponent.
Urban planner Paul Graziano, who placed third out of five candidates in the September Democratic primary, let the feathers fly when he announced his support for attorney Dennis Saffran in Saffran’s Bayside campaign office.
Another fatal motorcycle accident on the Cross Island Parkway section known as Deadman’s Curve has led state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) to ask the state to redesign the area to prevent further tragedies.
David Wilson, 27, of South Richmond Hill, was killed when he lost control while operating a Suzuki motorcycle early Sunday morning and struck a barrier. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The accident occurred near the Whitestone Expressway.