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The Queens County Democratic Party on Monday announced its endorsements three three citywide candidates, as well as its pick to be Borough Hall’s next occupant.
The borough’s Dems, led by Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens, Bronx), are backing former Councilwoman Melinda Katz for borough president, Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) for mayor, Resham Saujani for public advocate and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer for comptroller.
The Queens County Democratic Party on Monday announced its endorsements for three citywide candidates, as well as its pick to be Borough Hall’s next occupant.
The responsibilities of a borough president have recently become the subject of debate. While some have said these borough-heads who cannot make any decisions on legislation are irrelevant, Queens borough president candidate Barry Grodenchik says the position is about more than rules and regulations.
“The job is about bringing people together,” Grodenchik said in a sit-down with the Queens Chronicle editors last Thursday. “We live in the most diverse place in the country and probably the world, and while it’s easy to scream and rant, the tougher job is to work with the people.”
The reviews are in, and critics of Mayor Bloomberg’s final executive budget are saying they have seen this show before.
And, as per usual, there is likely to be a rousing closing dance number when City Council members restore funding for the same fire companies, after-school programs, senior centers and libraries that have been proposed for cuts by the mayor for years.
Residents and elected officials from Southeast Queens on Friday took what they hope is not a last look at about 700 trees in the Idlewild Park Preserve.
Nearly 400 of the trees have been marked by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey as being potential hazards to planes landing at or taking off from John F. Kennedy International Airport.
With chants of “save our centers” reverberating across the steps of Queens Borough Hall, hundreds of young students, representing various after-school programs and encouraged by their mentors and elected officials, made their voices heard at a rally on April 24 to protest proposed budget cuts that would leave many of them without a home away from home.
“How would you feel if your second home was gone?” 10-year-old Jessica Calvo asked the crowd as she stepped up to the podium.
The chattering classes like to characterize state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) as the outspoken, fuming-red lawmaker from Northeast Queens who puts good government ahead of political gamesmanship; a sort of Stunt Pol who tackles Hurricane Sandy damage with a chainsaw and considers dicing his state-issued parking placard as an act of valor.
Well, to Tony Avella ... That sounds like just the guy to be the next borough president.
State Sen. Jose Peralta, left, former Councilwoman Melinda Katz, former Deputy Borough President Barry Grodenchik and Councilman Leroy Comrie in Howard Beach last week.
Even though a revision to the City Charter in 1990 reduced the borough president position to a largely ceremonial one with a limited advisory role, there are no lack of candidates for the job in Queens.
Four of the six hopefuls came to the Old Mill Yacht Club in Howard Beach last Thursday during a forum hosted by the South Queens Democratic Club, to outline their visions for Queens in the first public forum for beep candidates in South Queens so far.
About 12 years ago Five Omar Mualimmak — who says his unique numerical name is the subject of a whole other article — was arrested on drug trafficking, possession of an illegal weapon, money laundering and tax evasion charges and sent to Rikers Island. Those charges were changed and dropped and then a few reissued, Mualimmak, 38, said, keeping him in the system for 11 years.
Once he was put in prison, a fight landed the Bronx man in solitary confinement.
It is very important that the projects that were approved for funding in Councilman Daniel Halloran’s 19th Council District under the participatory budgeting project be allocated those monies (“Quinn takin’ Halloran’s bacon,” April 11, multiple editions).
The people voted and their choices must be honored. In addition, other projects that were put forth must also be considered for funding, because those ideas came from the people as well. They worked hard to formulate proposals to meet the needs of the communities that make up the district.
As a member of the steering committee of the PB project, I saw firsthand the dedication and drive of dozens of community residents who wanted to move forward on worthwhile projects that would benefit the people of the 19th District. I would urge Speaker Christine Quinn, Councilman Leroy Comrie and the rest of the Queens City Council delegation, who will be deciding on how our funds are allocated, to please do their best to ensure that the people of the 19th District are not shortchanged or left out in the cold during this very difficult time.
Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens) now knows how his constituents want city money spent in their district. Through the participatory budgeting process, residents voted on which projects would receive $1 million from the city.
There were 1,116 votes cast and six projects will be funded. The winning projects were: Emergency equipment for the Glen Oaks Volunteer Ambulance Corps.; a new roof for the Queens County Farm Museum; a technology upgrade for Martin Van Buren High School; security cameras for three locations in the district and, at Cunningham Park, picnic area enhancements and a new music stage.
The last two weeks have provided a steady list of reasons to be cynical about government as a whole, and the doling out of taxpayer funding in particular. But running on parallel tracks has been an attempt at opening up the decision-making process to three Queens lawmakers’ constituents.
Councilmen Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone), Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens) and Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) were three of eight city legislators to enroll in Participatory Budgeting, which allows constituents to vote on the allocation of up to $1 million in discretionary funding.
Understate (v): represent as less than is the case.
Example: Councilman Dan Halloran’s (R-Whitestone) life has become somewhat difficult after he was snagged in an alleged bribery scheme a week ago. Actually, it’s careening towards a professional hellhole.
Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) stands accused of taking bribes to guide the flow of taxpayer cash, creating a pay-to-play environment for what is commonly called discretionary spending.
Or, depending on how you feel about it, “pork.”
Thousands came from throughout the city and Long Island on Saturday to continue an Easter tradition with the 12th annual Easter egg hunt sponsored by City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-S. Albans) and Affinity Heath Plan.
The day featured rides, carnival games and live musical performances. There also were free Healthplex dental screenings for children.
State Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-Hollis) and his close associates, both political and personal, appear to be keeping a low profile since Tuesday morning, when the seven-term senator was arrested on federal charges that include bribery, wire fraud and conspiracy.
Smith, 56, was arrested at his home in Queens by FBI agents as the result of a 28-page federal complaint charging him with attempting to bribe two city Republican officials in an effort to secure the Republican nomination for mayor.
At a forum held in Astoria on March 14, as the Queens Chronicle reported in its March 21 edition (“Schools, jobs top boro pres forum”), the six Democratic candidates for the office of Queens borough president said small businesses must be nurtured if they are to provide the jobs needed for the borough and the city. On the small business issue alone. the only credible candidate is state Sen. Tony Avella. The others, Councilman Leroy Comrie, former Deputy Borough President Barry Grodenchik, former Councilwoman Melinda Katz, state Sen. Jose Peralta and Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., not only lack credibility but exhibit hypocrisy that negates qualification for the office they seek. Only Avella has come out against Mayor Bloomberg’s ill-advised Willets Point proposal, the others all support the proposal, and therein lies the hypocrisy.
For decades the city collected sewer rent and real estate and other taxes from Willets Point owners notwithstanding there were no sewers and a failure to address the area’s infrastructure needs. Ignoring its own culpability, the city declared the area a blight that must go. The development wil
l require millions of dollars in cleanup and infrastructure costs, most of which will be borne by taxpayers and not the developer chosen by the city. The city could of course do the cleanup for the benefit of the current businesses in the area, but that would not fit with Bloomberg’s romance with fat-cat real estate developers.
Implicit in the Willets Point proposal is the destruction of 225 small businesses — that is correct, 225 small businesses — the loss of jobs for 1,000 employees and the fallout on their thousands of dependents. The development will not include a mom-and-pop grocery store or small manufacturing business. It may well include a Gucci store and all kinds of upscale establishments. It will also destroy the small businesses on Northern Boulevard, Roosevelt Avenue, 108th Street and the 20th Avenue and Rego Park malls.
To support redeveloping Willets Point does not make one interested in small businesses, but on the contrary a supporter of big business and an enemy of the small business owner. For most of the above candidates, claims to care about the importance of small business are empty words. There is a real choice, and if one cares about small businesses, the choice should be Avella.
Councilman Leroy Comrie recently honored 16 women from across Queens in his seventh annual Unsung Heroines event for Women’s History Month; 15 were present at the ceremony.
Honorees included Gaye Anderson, of Healthfirst; 33rd AD District Leader June Bunch; 29th AD District Leader Jacqueline Boyce; businesswoman Latasha Smith-Bondswell; educator Beverly Bazil Edge; the Rev. Gular Hamilton Glover; executive Jolander Headley; Delta Sigma Theta Sorority official Moira Jack; the Rev. Tracey Whittaby Johnson; Queens Borough Parks commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski; Chantel Legros of the Southern Queens Park Association; executive Monica Sanchez; business executive Patricia Thomas; Jeanine Taylor of MTV Networks; businesswoman Valencia Robinson WIlliams; and NY 1 anchor Cheryl Wills.
City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) and Affinity Health Plan will host their 12th annual Easter egg hunt from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday in St. Albans Park on Merrick Boulevard.
The day will feature amusement rides, free musical performances, games and pony rides. The New York Knicks Groove Truck will be on hand to give away prizes for children.
Early signs in the Democratic primary for borough president point to a love-fest. Not necessarily among the candidates, but between the six Democrats and Queens itself.
Five of the six candidates vying for the seat attended last Thursday a candidates’ forum at the Hollis Hills Jewish Center, co-hosted by the Saul Weprin and Eleanor Roosevelt Democratic clubs. Each touted experience in at least one niche where government intersects with life, pointing to personal experience and past work as part of his or her bona fides.
With six months to go before the scheduled Democratic primary, the six Democratic candidates for borough president came to Astoria on March 14 to try and distinguish themselves from the rest of the field on schools, small business and just how to handle Willets Point and development proposals for Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), former Deputy Borough President Barry Grodenchik, former Councilwoman and Assemblywoman Melinda Katz, state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) and Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. were all present at various times at the forum hosted by the Greater Astoria Historical Society.
Councilman Leroy Comrie, left, former Deputy Borough President Barry Grodenchik, former Councilwoman Melinda Katz, state Sen. Jose Peralta, Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. and state Sen. Tony Avella, inset, all supported education, small business and improved city infrastructure in a forum for candidates for Queens Borough President.
I do not understand what has happened in the “city so nice they named it twice.” We used to be a city of people who stood up for what was what and made no bones about it. When did that change?
Now here in Queens we have our elected “representatives” (I use the term lightly) selling out the very people they swore to represent. There are three large projects undergoing public review, which would significantly sacrifice acreage of parkland within Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Yet several elected officials are on board with the developers. They are in effect speaking for the developers instead of their constituents.
They tell us that the theft being perpetrated upon all of us is exactly what we need and want. They speak of “public-private partnerships.” They speak of the wretched conditions of Flushing Meadows Corona Park, yet they do not speak of their incompetence, inability or unwillingness to fu
nd the very same park. They tell local business owners that these projects are a good deal. They do not tell the local merchants that there will be no increase in business. Every stadium has its own restaurants that cater to all types of clients and this one will be no different. These stadiums are built as cities unto themselves, complete with pro shops, restaurants, fast food joints and vending machines.
They also do not tell these merchants that the added traffic, without added roads and parking, will only force a crackdown on parking, possibly eliminating valued parking in front of their establishments. Think about it, Northern Boulevard already has no parking westbound for the morning rush hour, and no parking eastbound for the evening rush. What is going to happen on all the other streets when the roads become blocked!
Julissa Ferreras represents the district that will be impacted the most. Most of her constituents use the park on a daily basis during the summer. They play soccer and cricket and have picnics, festivals and a myriad of other events in this park. Yet, she is leading the charge to take the parkland away. Borough president candidates Barry Grodenchik, Melinda Katz, Leroy Comrie and Jose Peralta have all remained silent on this issue. They want the seat of borough president, yet remain silent while the borough gets robbed. This is not acceptable!
Are we to stand by and allow our park to be taken from us? Are we to stand by and allow our “representatives” to represent businesses instead of us? Has it become OK to accept whatever it is they give us because they do it with a smile and a nod? They only feign care and concern when we get upset. Just because they speak to us in a calm manner in the pretense of being civil does not mean they are being civil.
Enough already. The time is now. Stand up, New York. This is our park! There is no deal to be made — our families, our children have rights to this park. Not USTA, not MLS, not Mr. Wilpon and Sterling and Related Companies! This is our land.
I urge you to call your representatives, and tell them “No, to the land theft at Flushing Meadows Corona Park!”
Former City Councilwoman Melinda Katz has landed what could be a huge endorsement in her race for the Democratic nomination for Queens borough president.
The Rev. Floyd Flake, pastor of Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York in Jamaica and a former five-term congressman, announced his support in a joint statement issued by the Katz campaign on Monday.