The latter half of 2021 was dominated by Covid-19, politics, and remembering loved ones we lost not only to the virus but natural disasters — and to 9/11 20 years earlier.
Ranked-choice voting was supposed to bring clarity as to whom voters wanted in public office, but after tallying ballots, the city Board of Elections left many scratching their heads because 135,000 false “test” ballots were included in the first preliminary results.
“Today’s announcement from the NYC Board of Elections is a disappointing but wholly unsurprising update from an agency with questionable capacity to handle an election of this magnitude,” then-Councilman Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans) said in a statement.
Increased travel out of New York City factored into Mayor de Blasio’s initiative for at-home vaccination for people 12 and up.
The city’s commissioner of health, Dr. Dave Chokshi, said it was “key” that New Yorkers taking trips out of the city were inoculated before they left the Big Apple.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority received blowback from the public for proposing cashless fare booths, prompting criticism from riders and Transport Workers Local 100, which represents booth clerks.
“I use the booth a lot,” said Stacey Miller of Jamaica. “The clerks are very helpful.” Miller said she has gotten damaged MetroCards replaced.
St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church in Queens Village was deconsecrated on June 27, opening up the space for secular use. One former parishioner, who wished to remain anonymous, wanted the 150-year-old building to remain open, get repaired and landmarked for future use instead of getting knocked down to make way for a new church and possibly affordable housing.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey signed a ground lease through 2050 with Aeroterm, a leading provider of capital- and facility-related services to airports in North America, to expand its cargo business at John F. Kennedy International Airport. The facility will handle millions of goods at a $145 million state-of-the-art space.
Advocates for School District 29 students were prepared to pursue legal action against the city Department of Education while rallying outside its headquarters at the Tweed Courthouse, next to City Hall in Manhattan, because of poor test results.
Michael Duncan, one of the advocates, laid the blame on mayoral control and racial inequity.
The inaugural St. Albans Night Market and Community Festival was held in St. Albans Park on June 27. Vendors included the Laurelton Farmers Market, Delectable Delights and Sandikat Creation, to name a few.
Edge School of the Arts dance school celebrated its 25th anniversary with a virtual Motown musical on June 27.
“It takes an innovative brain to create a virtual concert that not only embodies the heart and soul of Motown but also highlights Queens landscapes and the extraordinary talent of our teaching artists and students,” said Wendy Edge about her younger sister, Artistic Director Kerri Edge.
Mayor de Blasio announced people going to indoor venues must be vaccinated.
“If we’re going to stop the Delta variant — the time is now. That means getting vaccinated right now,” de Blasio said.
Queens officials called on Gov. Cuomo to leave office after state Attorney General Tish James released a report that claimed he engaged in sexual misconduct.
“It is clear that Governor Cuomo cannot do the work of New York State,” said state Sen. James Sanders Jr. (D-South Ozone Park).
The city’s Department of Transportation requested feedback from the community about proposed busways for Archer and Jamaica avenues. A rendering also included a design for a Parsons-Archer Pedestrian Plaza to go along with the transportation capital projects.
“This project includes the full reconstruction of Parsons Boulevard from Jamaica Avenue to Archer Avenue,” said Brian Zumhagen, a DOT spokesman.
President Biden announced his support of a pathway for citizenship for 10 million undocumented immigrants as they struggle to gain access to the Excluded Workers Fund.
“I was pleased to read of his support,” said Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman (D-Springfield), a former undocumented immigrant. “Under the previous administrations — Clinton, Obama and Trump — you could not ignore the immigrants that make this country what it is.”
Civic leader Aracelia Cook took the Queens Chronicle and Sanders on a tour of illegal dumping spots in Southeast Queens near the Van Wyck Expressway.
“There were televisions, toilet bowls, mattresses, tires and a couch set,” said Cook. “I think people are cleaning out their houses and they are dumping at night. It is going on at corners like Foch Boulevard, 168th Road, 109th Avenue and Tuskegee Airmen Way.”
Gov. Hochul took the highest office of the state after Gov. Cuomo resigned in scandal, but the question was would members of the Democratic Party stick with her? Hochul, the former deputy governor, became the first woman sworn to the gubernatorial position in New York.
“I look forward to the enthusiasm in Gov. Hochul,” said state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach). “I’ve known her and to me she is very professional ... I wish her well and I think she is very competent. I have the ultimate confidence in her.”
Dead trees continued to be an eyesore in Queens Village and Kirby Lindell of Bell Park Manor had had enough.
“The trees have been there for years, and they put up a couple of live ones and left the dead ones there,” said Lindell. “It is right in front of the high school and is not a good optic.”
Haiti needed funds to recover after being rocked by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake, not pity or a government takeover from Western countries, according to Elsie Saint-Louis, the executive director of Haitian-Americans United for Progress, a Queens-based nonprofit.
“There is water in Haiti. There is food in Haiti. There is clothing in Haiti. So when you donate dollars to people on the ground, donate to organizations in the south like Capracare,” said Saint-Louis.
Torrential rain from Tropical Storm Ida killed eight in Queens, including a mother and son in Hollis.
The male, Khrishah Ramskriet, was declared dead at the scene and his mother, Phamatee Ramskriet, was pronounced dead at NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens. President Biden approved the state’s emergency declaration on Sept. 2.
The floodwaters downed subways and reopened a debate about basement apartments after it was reported by the NYPD that several of the Ida victims lived in those units. There was also a probe by the City Council into the borough’s sewer failures. The storm also delayed by days performances by UniverSoul Circus at Roy Wilkins Park in St. Albans.
Members of the Hollis community created a GoFundMe to offer financial assistance to help their neighbors rebuild.
Sept. 11, 2021, marked the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers. A retired NYPD couple held a candlelight vigil in Queens Village in remembrance of FDNY members from Engine 205/Ladder 118.
Kennedy Airport also paid tribute to the victims of 9/11 with a monument in honor of Port Authority of New York and New Jersey workers.
City public school students returned to classrooms in-person leaving elected officials optimistic, but logistical challenges left school administrators frustrated.
Det. Brenda Reddick, an NYPD hostage negotiator, was able to talk down a suspect who had exchanged gunfire with police during an alleged domestic violence dispute.
The Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning celebrated its 50th season on Oct. 2. Danny Simmons, a co-founder of “Def Poetry Jam,” showcased his lifetime of work.
Gabby Petito’s death and the widespread belief that it was at the hands of her fiancé sparked a national conversation on how well disguised an abusive relationship could be. There are hotlines for victims, such as Safe Horizon’s at 1 (800) 621-HOPE (4673).
Petito’s death has also highlighted how missing people of color are often left out of the media cycle. Ghulam Muhammed, 81, of Jamaica Estates, was reported missing on Jan. 1, 2015. People from areas including Briarwood and Jamaica Hills have also been reported missing over the years.
Ground was broken for the long-awaited 116th Precinct. Mayor de Blasio joined officials from Eastern and Southeast Queens with a shovel in hand for the $104.8 million project.
The Harvest Festival was back and held on Sutphin Boulevard from Jamaica to Hillside avenues. The festival included music, food, reptiles, jewelry and bouncy houses.
Hochul directed state officials to consider alternatives to the LaGuardia AirTrain plan.
“I remain committed to working expeditiously to rebuild our infrastructure for the 21st century and to create jobs — not just at LaGuardia,” she said.
Oct. 1 was declared Tina Charles and Dalilah Muhammad Day in Queens. Councilwoman Adrienne Adams (D-Jamaica) called the Olympic athletes the “Queens of Queens.”
An Education Equity Action Plan was announced at The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Manhattan. The education initiative, which focuses on the Black diaspora, will launch in select schools in the second quarter of 2022.
Some worried there might be a potential teacher shortage because of the recent vaccine mandate for public school staff. An estimated 3,700 substitutes were needed citywide.
City Correction Commissioner Vincent Schiraldi vowed to a state oversight committee to address the troubles on Rikers Island. Benny Boscio Jr., president of the Corrections Officers Benevolent Association, said he believes de Blasio has completely mismanaged the prison complex.
There was a ribbon cutting for the Covid Victory Garden at Roy Wilkins Park that was attended by elected officials and staff from Jamaica Hospital Medical Center and emergency technicians. The purpose of the park is to honor the lives lost to the ongoing pandemic.
A Brookville man climbed out of a tree after a 52-hour stand off with police.
Roody Thomas, 44, allegedly had an arrest warrant for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend, 50, when his mother filed a complaint on him after he threatened her with physical harm. Erica Ford of Life Camp, an organization dedicated to reducing gun violence that also provides health services, helped to get Thomas down from the tree.
Miller introduced a bill in the City Council for a cannabis office. The legal cannabis industry is projected to create 50,000 jobs and $350 million in new taxes.
Sanders co-sponsored legislation to decriminalize the use of drug antagonists like Narcon to help prevent deaths by overdose. Hochul signed the bill into law.
Wrecked cars were plaguing St. Albans as unregistered vehicles piled up throughout the Eastern Queens neighborhood. Eddie Gates, a resident, is tired of seeing the destroyed cars, which included a derelict limo, sweeping across the area, even on to sidewalks.
Black Spectrum Theatre Co. extended its run of the revival of “Black Love,” which explores different manifestations of love in the Black community.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams dominated the general election and claimed 66.1 percent of the vote to become mayor. Curtis Sliwa, his Republican competitor, won 28.6 percent.
Waste collection in 40 ZIP codes slowed down throughout the borough from Oct. 2020 to Oct. 2021, according to data provided to the Queens Chronicle from 311.
U.S. Reps. Tom Suozzi (D-Nassau, Suffolk, Queens) and Greg Meeks (D-Queens, Nassau) held a press conference at St. Albans Park to champion a proposed two-year repeal of the cap on deductions for state and local taxes, which was set at $10,000. Part of the Trump-led 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the SALT cap limits the deductions people can take on their federal taxes from state and local ones.
Hope Knight, the president and CEO of the Greater Jamaica Development Corp., was nominated as the commissioner of the state Department of Economic Development and president and CEO of Empire State Development by Hochul.
“We need the best of the best at the helm to lead our recovery,” said Hochul.
Councilwomen Adrienne Adams (D-Jamaica) and Selvena Brooks-Powers (D-Laurelton) were re-elected to represent City Council District 28 and 32, respectively. Nantasha Williams, a community leader, ran uncontested in the general election to become councilwoman-elect for District 27.
Queens elected officials applauded Biden for a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package that was signed into law Nov. 15.
“The impact of poor infrastructure has disproportionally fell on communities of color, as they are less likely to have access to high speed internet, clean drinking water and reliable public transit,” said Meeks.
Prakash Churaman, 22, from South Jamaica, maintained his innocence ahead of a new pretrial in a murder case.
“Honestly, there is nothing else to be done but for him to set an official trial date or drop the charges,” said Churaman about Justice Kenneth Holder, who heard the case.
Environmental advocates said they don’t don’t trust the waste-by-rail plan offered by American Recycling, which runs a waste transfer station in Jamaica. Dominic Susino, the chief financial officer of the company, believes disposing of garbage via train will result in fewer trucks on the road, addressing some of the air pollution concerns.
But Oster Bryan, president of the St. Albans Civic Association, said that is a “bold-faced lie.”
Jamaica Hospital Medical Center had a ribbon cutting on a new orthopedic center, which has new machines that will help doctors diagnose patients faster.
More than 350 people came out to attend the grand opening of the Black-owned supermarket Earnest Foods. Earnest Flowers, the co-owner of the supermarket, has plaques throughout the store to acknowledge the local Black entrepreneurs whose products he carries.
Parishioners of St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church in Hollis celebrated the 55th anniversary of Barbados becoming an independent country simultaneously with the removal of Queens Elizabeth as the head of state of the island nation. Rev. Ryan Boyce, a native of the Caribbean country, said Barbados was prepared for the transition.
The city Human Resources Administration and HeartShare, a nonprofit, are teaming up together to aid residents in need of help with their heating bills. The elderly, disabled and those with low income qualify for the Home Energy Assistance Program.
De Blasio announced on MSNBC that the private sector must mask up to prevent the further spread of both the Delta and Omicron Covid-19 variants. Restaurateurs and other small business owners worry about the new requirements.
Councilwoman Adams said she had secured 33 allies ahead of an early January election for the City Council speakership. Mayor-elect Eric Adams has been pushing for Councilman Francisco Moya (D-Corona), but congratulated his former Bayside High School classmate on her victory.
Find Part I at qchron.com.