• October 19, 2019
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Queens Chronicle


That risky Rikers closure

As you read this, the city is about to embark upon its next great experiment in criminal justice, jail decentralization, a key part of its mission to reverse many of the policies that have driven down crime for the last three decades.When cri…

A new idea for LIC’s waterfront
Posted: October 17, 2019

With the collapse of the Amazon deal for Long Island City well behind us, a group of area developers is looking to come up with a new, commercially focused plan for the 28 acres of land on the East River at Anable Basin where the online giant planned to build one of its new headquarters.

And the best thing about their nascent consortium is that it was put together at the behest of city officials, including Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, one of Amazon’s biggest opponents. A public-private partnership is clearly needed from the start — one that embraces all stakeholders, which is what the developers appear to be seeking.

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Getting ferry creative on Rikers
Updated: October 17, 2019 - 12:31 pm

This plan might just be crazy enough to work!

How many times have you heard that before — on TV shows, in movies, even in real life? Now it’s time to hear it on a serious matter of public policy — thwarting the city’s unwise plan to shut down the detention centers on Rikers Island and then build new jails in four of the five boroughs.

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De Blasio corrected
Posted: October 10, 2019

Give Mayor de Blasio credit for admitting he was wrong to insist two weeks ago that his IDNYC cards are valid proof of age for buying alcohol, and for apologizing to those he misled with his ill-informed comments on WNYC.

But he still thinks they should be accepted at bars and restaurants, bodegas and liquor stores, sports arenas and gas stations, and wherever else adult beverages are sold. Not gonna happen.

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On SHSAT, a win for our top students
Updated: October 10, 2019 - 12:07 pm

If you believe in fundamental fairness, in the individual, in the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream that one day people would be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character, that all New York City children should enjoy equality of opportunity and not equality of outcome dictated from the top down, it’s time to celebrate.

After years of fruitless agitation that threw parents citywide into a tizzy, inflamed racial tension and endangered the future of some of the city’s top schools and their thousands of students, Mayor de Blasio has given up on his ill-advised effort to get the Specialized High School Admissions Test discarded and to diminish the education provided at the “elite eight” institutions that use it. He says it’s time to “start over.”

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Thursday 10/03/2019
Got proof, de Blasio?
Posted: October 03, 2019

Wow, after spending so much time introducing himself to residents of Iowa and New Hampshire in an effort to convince them he was a serious candidate for president, Mayor de Blasio sure has to brush up on the rules and regulations of his own city and state.

Speaking on WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show” last week, de Blasio said he was “really surprised” the IDNYC cards his administration created cannot be used as proof of age to buy alcohol. This even though the city’s own IDNYC website says they can’t be used for that. He then said the city will tell bar and restaurant owners to accept IDNYC, stubbornly declaring, “This is a valid ID.”

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Thursday 09/26/2019
Early voting expands our rights
Updated: October 03, 2019 - 12:25 pm

It’s about time New York State made a serious move toward enabling more people to exercise their right to vote, one of the most fundamental rights we have as Americans — arguably the most fundamental. Without it, there’s no democracy.

Oddly enough for a progressive state whose very name equates to “cutting edge” in so many ways, New York is notoriously bad at enabling people to vote. Deadlines to register when moving here from another state, or when changing parties, are so arbitrary they seem designed to suppress the franchise. And, until now, the state did not allow in-person early voting.

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Big transit upgrades at last
Posted: September 26, 2019

After years of worsening subway service, could that be a light we see at the end of the tunnel? We’ve gotten glimpses so many times before as various officials have vowed to get things back on track, but on Wednesday the MTA’s governing board put its money where its mouth is.

The board approved a $51.5 billion capital plan for the next five years, with more than $40 billion — 80 percent — going to projects in New York City. The plan calls for 1,900 new subway cars, improvements to 175 stations that desperately need it — including the replacement of dozens of the system’s notoriously bad elevators and escalators — and the modernization of those 1930s-era signals that cause so many train slowdowns, along with 2,400 new buses. That’s a serious package of upgrades, not cosmetic lipstick-on-a-pig stuff.

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Thursday 09/19/2019
Who gets an F at Maspeth HS?
Updated: September 27, 2019 - 9:45 am

We’re glad to know that not only the Department of Education’s Office of Investigations is looking into the allegations of grade-fixing at Maspeth High School, but that the Queens District Attorney’s Public Integrity Bureau also is. We need an outside entity, one with as solid a record of public service as the DA’s office, to examine this. As City Councilman Bob Holden, whose district includes the school, said, having a DOE office investigate the matter is a case of “the fox watching the hen house.”

Of course, the OSI should have been looking into MHS a while ago. The school claims a 99 percent on-time graduation rate, compared to 76 percent citywide. And it says all students earn a Regents diploma, even those in special education. Give us a break. It’s not like this is a Success Academy school run by Eva Moskowitz. There’s no way Maspeth High’s students are doing that much better than their peers.

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Mayor must get on the ball
Posted: September 19, 2019

If you needed any further proof that part-time Mayor de Blasio is out to lunch — we know, you didn’t — it came to us over the airwaves and via a transcript from his own office Friday.

Brian Lehrer of WNYC was doing his regular interview with de Blasio when a caller brought up Vision Zero, the mayor’s traffic safety initiative, the results of which are among his top accomplishments. Although we differ with some aspects of it, we have to give the mayor credit for helping reduce the chaos on the streets.

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Thursday 09/12/2019
Feds scoff at flood protection
Updated: September 19, 2019 - 11:58 am

Is the federal government determined to let Howard Beach get flooded the next time a hurricane hits? And the time after that, and the time after that? Sure seems that way.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency last month refused to cover the cost of a $65 million berm that would go in Spring Creek Park, U.S. government property. Basically a long, high pile of tightly packed dirt — so wonderfully low-tech that it’s pretty much humankind’s oldest type of fortification and something even toddlers at the beach know can stop water — the berm would have been built between the Joseph P. Addabbo Bridge and the Belt Parkway.

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City faces tree root reality
Posted: September 12, 2019

The city is finally taking some responsibility for the damage its own property — street trees — causes to sidewalks.

We say “some responsibility” because the New York is notorious for taking its time repairing sidewalks even when it acknowledges the damage has been caused by trees it planted.

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Thursday 09/05/2019
Keep fighting the jail plan
Updated: September 12, 2019 - 1:03 pm

The news out of the City Planning Commission was disappointing but not unexpected: The panel voted 9-3 to approve the misguided plan to close the jails on Rikers Island and replace them with new lockups in four of the five boroughs, including one at the site of the old Queens House of Detention in Kew Gardens.

Long ago, the powers that be in our fair city made the logical conclusion that the best place to house dangerous criminals, and others charged with infractions yet to be proven in court, is an island from which there could be little chance of escape. Today, our part-time mayor — the man who showed up to City Hall for all of seven hours in the entire month of May — and his cohort think it’s more important to keep these miscreants closer to home, and to put them in facilities with retail for the public on the ground floor.

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Hey, NYC: Parks are not landfills
Posted: September 05, 2019

The truck rambled through a wooded section of the park, those behind its mission thinking it would be far from prying eyes. Pulling into a clearing, it disgorged its load: stinky sludge, empty bottles and cans, myriad bits of trash.

Who was the perpetrator? An unscrupulous contractor avoiding the cost of clearing a construction site? A fed-up landlord who just evicted a slob and thought he could cut corners? A store owner closing up shop and wanting to save every last penny in his retirement?

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Thursday 08/29/2019
City should expand, not kill, gifted and talented programs
Updated: September 05, 2019 - 12:25 pm

This week a panel appointed by Mayor de Blasio recommended, among other things, that the school system’s gifted and talented programs be phased out. We strongly encourage the mayor to reject the plan.

It would be much better to do the very opposite: Expand gifted and talented programs across the city, to give more children the opportunity to excel. That opportunity is sadly not available to far too many students. A number of parents in minority communities, whose children are stuck in underperforming schools, want an expansion of gifted and talented education, so their kids also will have a better chance of getting into the best middle schools and high schools and, of course, simply learn more and be better prepared for life on their own. They share this desire with parents in neighborhoods that already have very good schools, parents of all races and ethnicities.

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