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Queens Chronicle

NYC Mayor de Blasio holds Jamaica town hall meeting

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Posted: Thursday, November 14, 2019 4:16 pm

Mayor de Blasio was the headline attraction at Wednesday night at a town hall meeting at August Martin High School in Jamaica, but young Amaryllis Greene, 9, was the showstopper.

Amaryllis, 9, who is a fourth-grader at Ideal Montessori School in Jamaica, questioned the mayor on the subways, the homeless and just why First Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Tucker was bypassed for Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea to become the new police commissioner on Dec. 1.

The mayor was so impressed he wondered aloud whether Amaryllis might become a legislator in the future.

The event, hosted by Councilwoman Adrienne Adams (D-Jamaica), was largely a question-and-answer session. When the mayor didn’t have an exact answer, he had NYPD brass and precinct commanders, plus department heads or their representatives

The first two segments — de Blasio generally comes to such meetings bearing gifts for local communities — were connected by the thread of the increase in youth violence in Southeast Queens in recent months.

The mayor said that the city soon will begin funding to increase the number of hours that the Edward Byrne Police Athletic League center on Guy R. Brewer Boulevard in South Jamaica. It soon will be open until 9 p.m. on Friday nights and to midnight n Saturdays.

“Too often the center is closed during the hours it’s needed,” he said.

The mayor also said the city will pay to reopen the community Center at the Paisley Park Houses — a NYCHA complex — that has been shuttered for a decade. It will be renamed for Aamir Griffin, the 14-year-old resident of the Baisley complex who was shot and killed on Oct. 26 while he played on the Baisley basketball court.

And the first round of questions were, at the mayor’s request, focused on public safety.

Amaryllis, given her turn, presented the mayor with a list of questions.

She said the subway often makes her late for school, and that she is concerned for the homeless people she sees there; and,

“With all due respect, why was Mr. Benjamin Tucker not selected as police commissioner?” she asked.

De Blasio in turn asked, “May I call you future Councilwoman Greene?”

In regard to subways, the mayor pointed out while they are the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s jurisdiction, the city this year reached a historic agreement for funding improvements; and an increase in outreach efforts for the homeless.

As for the police commissioner — Shea was in the school’s gym — de Blasio told his young constituent that the decision was not an easy one.

“Sometimes, you have to choose from a lot of great people,” he said.

Parents from Success Academy charter schools in Queens also were out in force. While they have been asking de Blasio for space for a new middle school, they were livid on Wednesday after the city announced that are being given the old Our Lady’s Catholic Academy building on Rockaway Boulevard in South Ozone Park.

Parents told the Chronicle that the building would be good for no more than two years due to growing enrollment, and that it is too far away from other Success schools for parents who must bring children to both.

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