It has been said the small businesses are the backbone of our communities here in Queens, and I am certainly one to reiterate that sentiment. The small businesses, many of which I frequent myself — convenience stores, delis, restaurants and more — are what keep so many of our borough’s commercial corridors going.
Small Business Saturday, this year set for Nov. 29, is a time to acknowledge the services our local stores have to offer. The everyday items we may not always take the time to note, the comfort you have in being a “regular” somewhere or simply just having a convenient place to shop are certainly reasons to appreciate our local stores. Cross Bay Boulevard, Myrtle Avenue, Metropolitan Avenue, Jamaica Avenue, Grand Avenue, Beach 116th Street and Beach 129th Street are just some of the corridors that see thousands of people every day. Where would we be without them?
President Obama’s executive order to provide certain undocumented residents with deferred action in case of future reform legislation as a possible pathway to citizenship or deportations was debated over and over again on the news and in legislative offices around the country.
Many activist groups, including Make the Road New York, hosted viewing parties of the president’s speech and tweeted about being excited to hear Obama’s plan.
Those with gripes and grievances about airplane noise and pollution met with Port Authority officials last week after a three-month hiatus to try once again to establish the structure and governance of a community aviation roundtable.
The governor ordered the Port Authority to create the roundtable over a year ago, but nothing has materialized because different groups from various impacted communities cannot agree on whether there should be one roundtable for the entire airspace or separate roundtables to address issues at LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International airports.
Even the frigid temperatures weren’t enough to numb the passions of the Glendale/Middle Village Coalition, which held a press conference in front of the controversial site of a proposed homeless shelter at 78-16 Cooper Ave. Wednesday morning.
Although the group that assembled —representing the coalition’s civic groups, local businesses and residents — was small compared to past gatherings expressing anger over the proposal to convert the former factory into a 125-family shelter, they had a big message.
Queens College recently released the results of a student survey gauging community opinions on how to utilize the vacant land surrounding the 3.5-mile, long abandoned Rockaway Beach Rail Line. The Friends of the QueensWay commends these students for their hard work, and we were delighted to see the results provide additional support for the QueensWay.
The QueensWay is a community-developed plan to turn this blighted land into a 47-acre linear park that will provide safe, easy access to Forest Park; new recreation opportunities for the 322,000 people living within a mile; a boost to local businesses; and a high-profile showcase for the most culturally diverse borough of New York City.
There is one thing that is uniting business owners in Queens and in Brooklyn on 101st Avenue: their disdain of the pedestrian plaza at the intersection of 101st Avenue and Drew Street, which sits on the border of the two boroughs.
“What’s the purpose of this?” said Khairul Islam, a real estate broker whose Brooklyn office sits a block away from the plaza. “I don’t know any people who are benefiting from this.”
(BPT) - Traveling, cooking large meals, planning and surviving holiday office parties, and managing relatives – the holidays are stressful. Add in the time and money demands of holiday shopping, and you may be tempted to keep a therapist on speed dial.
I wanted to address a growing concern regarding discussions about the specialized high school admissions test and minority representation. Although I believe there are many arguments that can be made about keeping (or changing) the SHSAT, I feel as if many discussing this issue use percentages and numbers somewhat incorrectly.
The most typical percentages reported are for students who take the exam and those who are accepted. Most coverage I have found focuses only on these two numbers, but I thought it would only be right to show you a third, the total number of students who could take the test.
The media note that, of the 5,261 students accepted into the specialized high schools, 57 percent are Asian and 23 percent are white. But generally speaking, Asian students are far more likely to take the exam at all (62 percent of the Asian total). In contrast, only 27 percent of all black students take the exam, and only 18 percent of Hispanic students do. By sheer number of people, Asians are very clearly the majority. Asians are also most likely to get into a specialized high school (26 percent).
Many people have focused on the latter problem (testing does not imply acceptance). However, there’s another serious issue: Many students are not taking the exam at all (no testing means no acceptance). Indeed, the issue may not really be the SHSAT. Perhaps the greater issue is that 75 percent of black and Hispanic students don’t take the test to begin with.
Bluntly stated, if a student does not take the SHSAT, there is no chance of acceptance. This creates a barrier of entry for black and Hispanic students, or those of any ethnicity, who do not know about the exam. These may be students who do not have the opportunity or means to take prep exams, even if they wanted to, but might also include bright students who were not informed of the exam.
Regardless, a large portion of middle school students do not even take the test. In my opinion, that is a more serious problem regarding NYC middle schools and our ability to prepare their students for the future. After all, how are we supposed to encourage students to succeed on the exam, or in any application process, if they are not even given access to try?
Residents who live along Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards last Wednesday expressed mixed opinions about a series of proposals that would turn one lane of the corridor into a dedicated bus lane, saying they were concerned with how the proposal would be implemented.
“This is a consolidation and when you consolidate, someone’s going to win and someone’s going to lose,” said Rockaway resident Phil McManus, a member of the Queens Public Transit Committee.
The NYC Marathon has always had a paradoxical quality. It’s the world’s largest and most prestigious road race (yes, I know that some folks in Boston and Chicago will disagree with the latter) and yet there is little hoopla in the mainstream sports community in the days leading up to it. You rarely hear anything about it on WFAN or ESPN New York and even the coverage in the local dailies is scant at best.
One reason is that Americans rarely win either the men’s or women’s race. Meb Keflezighi, who was born in Eritrea but emigrated to the U.S. at the age of 12 with his family, won the race in 2009. You would have to go back 27 years before that for your last American winner, Alberto Salazar.
Every citizen has a right to a trial by a jury of his or her peers, and in a county like Queens with its 162 nationalities, that calls for a veritable melting pot. Yet a great many Queens residents ignore the juror questionnaire they receive from my office, inexplicably abandoning their legal obligation and, in fact, their community.
A jury, the impartial fact-finder that determines guilt or innocence in criminal cases and liability or lack thereof in civil cases, works best when it contains a representative cross section of the community. A jury that mirrors the diverse ethnic, social, economic and political perspectives and values of the borough is best equipped to sit in judgment of its fellow citizens and render a verdict that is fair and consistent with the law, while also reflecting the common experiences of the community.
There are few things vaguer to New York voters than ballot propositions that are often as hard to understand as they are hard to locate on a ballot. This Election Day one such ballot proposal New York voters will be asked to decide on is a legislatively referred constitutional amendment to create a redistricting commission to establish state legislative and congressional districts.
Redistricting is the once-a-decade process in which the legislative districts are adjusted to reflect shifts in population. In New York, like most states, the Legislature has for years had primary control of the redistricting process and that has resulted in districts that tend to protect incumbents and produce noncompetitive elections.
I have been saying for quite some time that it’s easy for anyone to stand up on a soapbox and rip apart groups tied to the Sandy recovery process, yell and scream that not enough has been done and call on the respective parties to speed up their work. While these are important sentiments, actions always speaks louder than words. The harder thing to do, in my eyes, is roll up your sleeves and solve the problem.
As we approach two years after the superstorm, recovery has made slow and steady progress. We all know on Oct. 30, 2012, my district was decimated and devastated. Now in October 2014, while some have fully recovered, others wait for reimbursement and even still others wait to reconstruct the homes they lost.
(NAPSI)—While most motorists are fond of what’s known as that “new car smell,” there are some other specific odors that motorists should also be aware of.
With all the hype surrounding Halloween at the end of the month, it is easy to overlook the fact that October is National Farm to School Month, which is another great reason for celebration in my opinion. Farm to school programs are simple and effective methods of providing children with fresh, organic produce from local farmers — a refreshing alternative to the microwaved pizza and plastic-wrapped donuts I had in elementary school. We expect our schools to teach children how to behave responsibly and ethically, yet they appear to forget these values when making decisions of what to feed to our children.
Schools throughout the city should join the National Farm to School Network, which is a great information hub for locating local farmers who can provide fresh produce to schools within a single day. The network can also provide unique educational opportunities, such as field trips to farms to learn about sustainable agriculture or cooking classes that teach students how to create their own nutritious meals. Providing fresh fruits and vegetables to children regularly is a great way to encourage them to adopt healthy eating habits, a lesson they rarely learn when being fed reheated prepackaged meals for lunch.
It’s tragic how nowadays children have become accustomed to eating, and possibly preferring to eat, processed food that contain little to no nutritional value over fresh fruits and vegetables. Now more than ever children need to learn the importance of making healthy food choices, and schools need to make more of an effort to set an example to their students and provide them with the food they deserve to eat.
(An open letter to writer Joyce Shepard)
In response to your letter to the editor, I would just like to be sure I understand your position, as you feel the residents of Glendale and Middle Village are narrow-minded bigots because they oppose a placing homeless families in a large warehouse shelter at the site of an old factory, in the midst of a brownfield, adjacent to a chemical plant and freight railroad, in an area severely underserved by public transportation, and within the most overcrowded school district in New York City.
Aside from your opinion that this ill-conceived plan to place a shelter at this particular location should be incontrovertibly accepted by the community, I suppose you have done your research and have concluded that NYC, the Department of Homeless Services and their contracted service providers are
actually effectively and efficiently assisting the homeless. So, I guess it is safe to say that you are for large-scale shelters operated by “not for profits” that receive 99.9 percent of their funding from government sources and private property owners who receive well above market-rate rents via our tax dollars, while the homeless are underserved and not transitioned to permanent or supportive housing in a timely manner?
You are for spending over $3,600 a month to house one family for one month, when perhaps they just need a rent subsidy? You are for a system that awards cronyism, as many of these shelters are run by former high-ranking officials in the New York City Housing Authority and DHS, who set policies to privatize shelter operations? You are for a system that continues to award multi-million dollar contracts to shelter providers cited in audits as misappropriating millions in taxpayer funds? You are for shelter operators and landlords who fail to pay water and sewer charges? You are for shelter operators and landlords who harass market-rate tenants out of apartments, which reduces the housing stock further, adding to the housing crisis, so that they can get lucrative homeless shelter contracts? You are for landlords and shelter operators who evict homeless in their shelters because the city wants to reduce the exorbitant amount paid per rundown apartment by a mere 10 percent? Need I go on? I am glad I now understand your position.
The system is not working and needs to be changed. Do your research before you attack a community of hardworking, compassionate people.
Despite making big population gains, minorities in Queens continue to be underrepresented in the state Legislature, with the number of white lawmakers far outpacing those from Asian and Hispanic communities. After 2010, when the Census showed the three groups were nearly equal in population, this gap should have narrowed significantly.
Yet minorities are even worse off today, largely because of New York’s broken redistricting process that diminishes the influence of minority communities and allows Albany lawmakers to carefully engineer voting blocs to protect incumbents. Today, lawmakers in office win re-election an astonishing 97 percent of the time, which could lead voters in Queens and throughout New York to wonder why we bother holding elections in the first place.
The Astoria Cove project has proven to be a sore issue with affordable housing advocates, and on Monday, City Council members were not afraid to slam the developers during a Zoning and Franchise Subcomittee meeting.
“As it is now, I cannot stand behind this project,” said Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria), whose district the development would be in and whose opinion will most likely influence the votes of his colleagues.
(NAPSI)—Many parents of school-age children are unhappy with the amount of time spent on standardized tests and have strong opinions on other controversial education policies, including Common Core and school vouchers.
There is a silence that shrouds most incidents of domestic violence — a deadly silence. October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and we must work together more diligently to give a voice to countless victims and put an end to this silence once and for all.
The prevalence of domestic violence is alarming. In Queens, police responded to 55,993 incidents of domestic violence last year. Each day, the NYPD responds to almost 800 domestic violence incidents across the city, and one in four women nationwide will be victims of domestic violence at some point in their lives. My council district, which includes the 102nd and 104th precincts, has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in the county.