Campaign finance reports have revved up the interest and the rhetoric in the state’s 11th Senate District, while in the 14th they brought more bad news for 14-year incumbent Malcolm Smith (D-Hollis).
Former city Comptroller John Liu, who joined the race less than two months ago, reported more than $508,000 in donations to his campaign to unseat incumbent Tony Avella (D-Bayside) in the 11th District Democratic primary in reports that were due by 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday.
A hastily called meeting of the Queens Library Board was hastily canceled last Thursday under pressure from some of the elected officials seeking to reform the embattled institution, led by Borough President Melinda Katz.
A faction of the divided board was plotting to work out a new deal with President and CEO Tom Galante in advance of tighter restrictions on their governing capabilities that were about to be signed into law by Gov. Cuomo. It is the same faction that recently voted, by a narrow majority, to continue defying City Comptroller Scott Stringer’s demands for all the library’s financial records for an audit he is conducting.
Four bus routes in Western Queens began offering new or extended service this past Sunday.
In a statement issued last week, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Bus Company and New York City Transit said the expansions reflected changes spurred by growing neighborhoods and replaced service cuts made during the MTA’s financial crisis back in 2010.
The cascading controversy surrounding the Queens Library is taking yet another turn today, as a majority of the institution's board members are plotting to work out a new deal with President and CEO Tom Galante in advance of new restrictions on their governing capabilities expected to take effect within the next few weeks.
After a brief stall in the Senate, state lawmakers passed the Queens Library Reform Bill late Thursday night.
We have been reading and hearing about various reports and allegations concerning the Queens Public Library System leadership over the past several months. Some of these assertions are quite serious and shocking. Although no one has been brought up on formal charges at this point, it seems apparent to me, and others, that more transparency and accountability is needed in this agency.
State Sen. Tony Avella is sponsoring legislation that will do just that (S7015). He has incorporated the ideas of Queens Borough President Melinda Katz as well as additional proposals of his own to ensure the library system will not come under a cloud of suspicion again in the future. His legislation would also apply to the Brooklyn and New York library systems.
I have read that state Sen. Michael Gianaris and Assemblymember Jeffrion Aubry have proposed library legislation as well. Apparently, their bills do not go as far in mandating change and reform as Sen. Avella’s proposal does.
With little time left to this legislative session, it is necessary for all involved to come to an agreement that should include opening up the library system’s financial books for an audit by city Comptroller Scott Stringer. The agreement should also put in place other measures of oversight and transparency regarding the library’s board of trustees and the CEO who oversees this agency’s operations.
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, left, Assemblymembers Michael Den Dekker and Marge Markey, Queens County Supreme Court Justice Kevin Kerrigan, state Sen. Mike Gianaris, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan, Rep. Joe Crowley, CB 2 Chairman Joseph Conley, Democratic District Leader John Smythe, former Councilman Peter Vallone Sr. and CB 2 members Gert McDonald and Marie Konecko at the event Saturday.
Though the waters have stilled, tension remains at a boil after four young adults drowned when their car plunged into Luyster Creek, also known as Steinway Creek, in Astoria.
Velma Elliot, victim Darius Fletcher’s mother, plans to meet this month with prosecutors from the Queens District Attorney’s Office.
Coming into Tuesday’s hearing with the State Liquor Authority, the battle over the Knockdown Center and its attempt to garner a liquor license for 600-plus patrons has raged on in southwest Queens for over six months.
So waiting two more weeks for an official decision shouldn’t be too difficult.
Assemblyman Jeff Aubry, center, joins state Sen. Michael Gianaris, Borough President Melinda Katz and other elected officials to announce legislation drafted on the state level two weeks ago calling for vast administrative reforms at the Queens Library.
In the wake of the Queens Library scandal surrounding embattled CEO Tom Galante’s questionable salary and spending practices, area lawmakers have introduced legislation to reform the library’s structure and add oversight measures.
“This is not about whether or not the Queens Library is a good system. It is,” Borough President Melinda Katz said at a press conference last Thursday. “This is about the public trust and public accountability to a system that is funded 85 percent by public funds.”
In a 12-hour period on April 3, state senators introduced a bill to change oversight of the Queens Library system; Borough President Melinda Katz reiterated her call for library CEO Tom Galante to be placed on temporary leave; the Library Board of Trustees issued a list of changes it intends to vote on to improve oversight; a board measure to place Galante on paid leave was defeated when the vote ended in a 9-9 tie; and the board reissued the list of changes intended to improve oversight.
When Queens Library President and CEO Tom Galante invited members of the borough’s press corps to the Central Library for a roundtable discussion, he boasted that he works “probably close to 100 hours a week” for the institution, even while he does another 20 or 25 hours at his side job.
When asked in writing by two members of the City Council how many hours he works for the library, Galante dropped the estimate a little, saying he puts in between 70 and 80 hours a week on average.
After watching Angela Hurtado die in the street when she was run over by an unlicensed driver, enough is enough for community activist Dmytro Fedkowskyj.
“She was a wife, a mother and a grandmother. And as a witness to this accident, it has changed my life forever,” Fedkowskyj said during a Tuesday rally at 69th Place and Grand Avenue in Maspeth, the very intersection where Hurtado, 68, died. “We can’t sit around and continue to wait for change. Change needs to happen now.”
While the Knockdown Center is on its way to acquiring a place of assembly permit for 5,000 people, its manager feels that its attempt at garnering a 600-plus person liquor license has been the subject of some confusion.
Tyler Myers, the arts venue’s manager, believes that some of its detractors are under the impression that the Knockdown Center only plans to serve up to 600 people if it gets the liquor license it seeks.
A new school is coming to Woodside and elected officials and many members of the community couldn’t be happier.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) was joined last Thursday by Assemblyman Michael Den Dekker (D-Jackson Heights), representatives from the School Construction Authority and Woodside on the Move, Community Board 2 Chairman Joe Conley and PS 11 principal Anna Efkarpides to break ground on PS 399, a new school set to open in 2015.
Councilman-Elect Costa Constantinides in front of PS 85 in Astoria, flanked by Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas and state Sen. Michael Gianaris, after voting on Tuesday.
For the first time since 1974, a member of the Vallone family will not hold the District 22 seat as Councilman-Elect Costa Constantinides won handily against his opponents last night.
“The voters have spoken,” he said. “I feel very humbled about the weight of what this means and the faith the people of this district have put in me.”
Queens elected officials hit the field on Sunday in New York City’s first-ever Battle of the Boroughs Bowl at Monsignor McClancy High School in East Elmhurst.
The event brought together representatives from Queens and the Bronx for a friendly round of touch football.
Sunnyside Gardens residents came out in full force to urge the Landmarks Preservation Commission to vote against a proposal to place a historic aluminum house in their neighborhood and build eight residential units on the remaining space. The hearing was held on the ninth floor of the Manhattan Municipal Building at 1 Centre Street, near City Hall.
The all-brick community of Sunnyside Gardens received landmark designation in 2007, which means that homeowners cannot change the facades of their homes, build fences, or compromise the continuity of the existing architecture.
Community Board 5’s Zoning and Land Use Review Committee voted unanimously Tuesday against the embattled Knockdown Center’s latest request for a 600-person liquor license that could knock out the center’s chances of attaining one.
The committee rallied around the fact that the 110-year-old former door factory at 52-19 Flushing Ave. in Maspeth, which has recently hosted events ranging from concerts and art happenings to weddings, does not have a certificate of occupancy. Also, the Knockdown Center had previously been denied a 5,000-person liquor license.
On Saturday, 19-year-old Luis Bravo was walking eastbound on Broadway when he was struck by a dark-colored sedan at the 58th Street intersection in Woodside.
The driver, traveling southbound subsequently fled the scene, leaving Bravo to die on the concrete until police and EMS responded and transported him to Elmhurst Hospital.
Members of Community Board 2, which represents Long Island City and Sunnyside, spoke loudly against a proposal to bring a modern yet historic aluminum house to the all-brick neighborhood of Sunnyside Gardens.
Since CB 2 is an advisory board, the 22-1 opposition vote isn’t the definitive word, but does get presented to the city Landmarks Preservation Commission, which reviews all changes to landmarked neighborhoods such as Sunnyside Gardens, and will vote Oct. 15.
In an unexpected move, the Queens Democratic Party threw its support behind Councilwoman Letitia James (D-Brooklyn) in the party’s runoff election for public advocate on Monday.
Jackson Heights and Astoria have just named streets after inspiring members of their communities.
The corner of 73rd Street and 34th Avenue will now be known as Mary Sarro Way after the LGBT rights supporter, district manager of Community Board 3, where she served from 1977 until 1996, and founder or supporter of many organizations such as the 82nd Street Business Improvement District and the neighborhood’s designated precinct, the 115th.