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Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and New York City Department of Investigation (NYC DOI) Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn today announced the arrest of a nonprofit executive accused of pocketing taxpayer dollars intended for public services and capital improvements in New York City. A multi-agency joint investigation, including NYC DOI and two federal agencies, exposed the theft of approximately $373,000 in public funds provided by New York State, the New York City Council, and federal earmark grants.
Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio today announced his appointment of William J. Bratton to serve as New York City’s next Police Commissioner.
In selecting Bratton to lead the New York Police Department, de Blasio emphasized his commitment to proactive policing to protect New Yorkers, while simultaneously respecting their civil liberties.
The city Department of Education informed parents of students in the gifted and talented programs at PS 203 in Oakland Gardens that they will not be given admission as a group to middle school and will have to reapply to stay in the program.
“The DOE blindsided the parents who have children currently in these gifted and talented elementary school programs,” said parent Sandie Santos. “The parents at PS 203 were just notified this past November, one month before the middle school applications were due, that they were no longer going as a group into their middle school, MS 74, as they did last year.”
How disappointing to learn that “Council OKs school at Keil Brothers site” (Domenick Rafter, Nov. 21, multiple editions). Keil Brothers Inc., established in 1930 as a flower shop, grew into a well-respected, full-service garden center.
The owners of Keil Brothers had annual revenue in the millions and they provided gainful employment to over a dozen people. Many are our neighbors. Both the owner and employees pay taxes like the rest of us. They also generate employment for many suppliers, along with gardeners and landscapers who purchase their products. With 8 percent of residents out of work, 7 percent who have given up looking and many more looking to upgrade from minimum-wage or part-time jobs, the last thing we need is to drive more stores such as Keil Brothers out of business.
Many residents oppose construction of a school on this site for good reasons. It is primarily a residential neighborhood with two other schools located only blocks away.
The site rests along two major bus routes, and is next to a large thoroughfare in an area made up mostly of narrow residential streets. These capacity-constrained streets will be negatively impacted by both school buses and parents dropping off their kids during rush hour taxing strained city resources. Street crossing for students could be dangerous.
The City Council approved this new school by a vote of 36-2. Only aspiring candidate for Council Speaker Mark Weprin and outgoing Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. voted no. Weprin was unable to convince 49 other Council members to protect a thriving business and residential neighborhood. How effective would he be as the next Council speaker? Perhaps there are better candidates for than Weprin, ones who can protect small businesses and the residential neighborhoods which make up the heart of New York City.
The quarter-acre Plaut Triangle in Flushing will be getting a major facelift next summer with the addition of new pathways, a drinking fountain and a spigot for watering plants, new benches, additional plantings and gates.
Chrissy Voskerichian, vice president of the Station Road Civic Association, is delighted with the plans. Her group has helped maintain the site for five years. “Our civic and community members are very happy and excited that money was funded for the upgrades to Plaut,” Voskerichian said.
A bill introduced by Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. would remove former Mayor Ed Koch’s name from the Queensboro Bridge and place it on the Municipal Building in Manhattan despite the City Council approving the co-naming more than two years ago.
A plan to ease overcrowding at PS/IS 49 in Middle Village was unanimously rejected by District 24’s Community Education Council on Nov. 27.
The proposal changed the zone boundaries of the school, located at 63-60 80 St. to allow some sections of Middle Village zoned for PS/IS 49 to be moved to within the boundaries of PS/IS 128 at 69-10 65 Dr., about a half mile west of PS/IS 49 and PS 102 on Van Horn Street in Elmhurst.
Queens officials are hailing the City Council’s passage of a bill that will result in speed humps on busy streets that run past schools, and are pulling for one that would reduce speed limits on some side streets while mandating approval of slow zones.
Bill 732-A, introduced by Councilwoman Debi Rose (D-Staten Island), mandates that the Department of Transportation install one or more speed humps on a minimum of 50 streets per year adjacent to public or private schools.
One-way residential side streets like 84th Street in Middle Village could be subject to lower speed limits if the City Council can convince New York State to go along with a bill to adopt a 25 mile-per-hour proposal.
A new bill Mayor Bloomberg is expected to sign would mandate that the city install at least 50 new speed humps each year near schools to reduce speeding. The William Sidney Mount School in Rego Park, above, is one where people wanted speed humps installed for years. Another measure, not yet passed, would lower speed limits on some residential streets.
Borough President-Elect Melinda Katz has tapped a longtime associate and a former rival for key positions in Borough Hall come January.
Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), who dropped out of the borough president race this past summer, will serve as deputy borough president, while Jay Bond, a former policy advisor to Katz during her tenure on the City Council and in the state Assembly, will be brought on board as chief of staff.
Of all the accomplishments of Mayor Bloomberg’s three terms in office, which this page will be examining over the next several weeks, along with his shortcomings, the most profound is the remarkable reduction in violent crime that he has achieved.
The cut in the murder rate over the last 20 or so years has been nothing short of a miracle. In 1990, homicides in the city peaked at 2,262. They began dropping the next year under Mayor David Dinkins, and continued falling under Mayor Rudy Giuliani. But it was under the leadership of Mike Bloomberg that New York became, as he would be the first to point out, the safest big city in the United States, with murder rates far below comparable municipalities such as Chicago and Los Angeles.
The Queens Historical Society is jazzing up its 26th annual holiday historic house tour on Sunday, Dec. 8 with six buildings in Flushing and the addition of the Louis Armstrong Museum in Corona.
The open houses will run from 1 to 5 p.m., with each facility offering activities, refreshments and a little history thrown in. Participants will be able to access a free trolley that will take visitors to all the sites.
Though the signs have been hung and decision finalized, the fight over co-naming the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge continues.
Outgoing Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) has introduced a bill that would remove former Mayor Ed Koch’s name from the historic bridge and place it on the Municipal Building in Manhattan.
Borough President-Elect Melinda Katz has tapped a long-time associate and a former rival for key positions in Borough Hall come January.
Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), who dropped out of the borough president race this past summer, will serve as deputy borough president, a job that traditionally has included supervision of the borough’s community boards.
Ever since June, Queens residents have been taking full advantage of a state appellate court ruling allowing specially licensed green livery cars to accept street hails.
But with the landslide election this month of Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio, the program faces an uncertain future, and City Council members representing some of the areas where the Granny Smith-green cabs have been most popular are not commenting as to just where they stand on the matter.
Public hearings and community input are lacking in the rollout of the QueensWay project, a proposed public greenway that will transform the former railroad-consisting of the 3.5 miles from Rego Park and Forest Hills down to Ozone Park.
There are grave concerns advocates for and against this project must take into consideration before the final draft is put up for a vote before the City Council. Feasibility studies must address the social, economic and environmental impact this project will have on all surrounding communities.
Woodhaven residents, especially those who live in the area of the line that runs parallel to 98th street in Woodhaven, are expectedly concerned about their continued safety and quality of life. The crime issue in Woodhaven and Ozone Park will only be aggravated, even if proposals to build gates and closure of the entrances are implemented, further overwhelming our precincts. These communities do not have a Civilian Observation Patrol, like G-COP in Glendale. We should respect and address the concerns of the 120 households who signed the petition to stop the project, which constitutes an overwhelming majority of homeowners living there.
Decisions must take into consideration the impact the project will have on the livelihoods and families of small business owners that occupy space below and adjacent to the train tracks. Many have been here for decades.
We need to know the effect the plan will have on PS 65, the Raymond York Elementary School and MS 137, America’s School of Heroes, and other area schools.
Many small business owners in the Aqueduct Flea market were forced to close due to Resorts World’s expansion, and it would be harsh to uproot and destroy others in our area — again. Moreover, any proposal must guarantee jobs and contracts to residents in the impacted communities.
We should also consider whether the MTA got it right, when its 20-year plan recommended that the rail line from Atlantic Avenue to Rockaway Boulevard should be left as is and eventually be used as a connection for an express line into Manhattan.
Proponents of the QueensWay who compare it to Manhattan’s High Line must research whether continuous sponsorship and maintenance is a realistic expectation, given the economic constraints, and the comparative paucity of large corporations and tourism in this area to offset such costs. None of us want to be saddled with a proverbial “pie in the sky.”
Councilman Donovan Richards, shown at the Rosedale Library in 2012, is including the modernization and expansion of the branch in his priorities for the new City Council session that begins in January.
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.
Voices on both sides of a City Council proposal to ban packaging made of polystyrene, or Styrofoam, made their voices heard at a hearing held Monday.
Mayor Bloomberg, Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio and lawmakers who back the measure say it would protect the environment and save the city money because Styrofoam is not biodegradable. Many business groups say banning it would be costly to both small and large companies and would not have the desired effect of reducing waste.
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.
To say Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton) is excited about the coming City Council session would be a gross understatement.
Re-elected to his first full term this month, he will be working with a new mayor he likes, a new speaker and a new Council membership he believes will be more attuned to the ideas of its Progressive Caucus.
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.
The City Council voted unanimously on Nov. 14 to rename a section of South Road in Jamaica for the Tuskegee Airmen, a segregated unit of Army Air Corps pilots who rose above prejudice and military roadblocks to become one of the elite fighter squadrons in World War II.
South Road between Merrick Boulevard and Remington Street will become Tuskegee Airmen Way.
SJ Jung, president of the MinKwon Center for Community Action in Flushing, was forced to end his eight-day fast in Washington, DC to promote immigration reform due to deteriorating health.
He and other proponents have been at a Fast for Families Tent on the National Mall near the Capitol Building. Participants are only drinking water.