Thursday, July 31, 2014

FOIL request simply ignored by Cuomo

From the NY Post:

The Cuomo administration claimed last year there were no records of its contacts with an anti-corruption panel involving the Real Estate Board of New York — just three months after a top gubernatorial aide ordered the panel not to issue subpoenas to the influential real-estate group.

The administration’s misleading account was made in writing to America Rising, a conservative PAC that had filed a Freedom of Information Law request in October for “any and all” communications between Cuomo staffers and the Moreland Commission panel about REBNY.

Just two months later, the answer came back that America Rising was wasting its time.

“Please be advised that the New York State Executive Chamber has conducted a diligent search but does not possess records responsive to your request,” Cuomo’s records officer, George Stiefel III, wrote in a response dated Nov. 19.

Actually, there were extensive contacts between the commission and Cuomo aide Larry Schwartz in August, according to an article in The New York Times last week.

Members of REBNY, who have donated $4 million to Gov. Cuomo since 2010, eventually turned over documents sought by the panel voluntarily.

Tim Miller, executive director of America Rising, said he was duped.

“This official correspondence from the governor’s office was a lie, either explicitly or by means of trying to find a clever way out of having to reveal damaging documents,” he told The Post.

Pedestrian plaza has become total crap

From the Queens Courier:

It started out as a beautification and community development project, but a pedestrian plaza on the Brooklyn-Queens border is an eyesore that is detrimental to business, locals say.

Five parking spots were permanently removed last November when the Department of Transportation (DOT) built the plaza at Drew Street and 101st at City Line.

“This plaza has totally crippled my business,” said Ahmad Ubayda, owner of the 99 Cent Ozone Park Discount Hardware store on the corner of the block. “This has been my worst year of business because they took away parking spaces for my customers but aren’t even using them.”

The site has deteriorated since its opening, locals charged.

Four tables and 12 chairs set up in a small section of the plaza while most of the space isn’t used.

Initial plans called for ample seating space, permanent bench seating and bike parking. When the plaza was first built there were plenty of chairs and tables, some even with umbrellas.

But a few weeks after its grand opening much of the furniture, which was chained up to a nearby light pole, was stolen and it hasn’t been fully replaced since, according to residents.

Now the plaza has just four tables, 12 chairs, two permanent benches and no bike parking space.

Moreover, the Bangladesh American Community Development and Youth Services Corporation (BACDYS), a local nonprofit organization, is responsible for the plaza’s upkeep, according to the DOT. Yet garbage overflowed from several cans and littered the floors on Monday.

Con Edison sprays anti-theft ID on copper wire

Program Will Protect Equipment & Service Reliability

Con Edison has begun a program to prevent copper thefts by spraying identifying markings on the equipment.

The utility is working with DataDot Technology to use a spray system that leaves dot markings on the copper or equipment. Each set of dots has a unique identifier, logo or numbered ID, that is invisible to the naked eye but can be viewed with a UV light.

“We are starting this program to protect our equipment, but more importantly the service we provide to our customers,” said Arturo Claudio, Area Manager with Con Edison Corporate Security. “Thieves who steal our copper that is in use in our electrical delivery system can get hurt or killed, endanger public safety and cause outages.”

Con Edison will work with the police to review records and products at metal and scrapyards. Police can use the dots and records to determine who sold a piece of copper to a scrap yard and where the copper was last stored by Con Edison.

In 2013, Con Edison reported 155 thefts of copper cable from manholes, trucks or other company facilities. Thieves often sell the highly valued copper to scrapyards.

Trash can overflow at Little Bay Dog Run

"This is the garbage pail next to the Little Bay Dog Run – it’s looked like this for several days now! And the hose DISAPPEARED the very day the DPR put down some new, terribly sharp, gravelly sand - really nice move considering that there’s NO SHADE in the entire run.

It’s a pity that so much thought and consideration (not to mention money!) goes into the design and maintenance of the bocce courts and so little into the extremely few, shitty, under-sized and overcrowded dog runs in Queens!

Dogs may not vote but their owners do!" - Flooshing Rezident

Pandas a priority for Carolyn Maloney

From the Daily News:

A New York congresswoman is hoping a pair of giant pandas will become the city’s next great attraction.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan) will travel to a nature preserve in China next month to explore the possibility of bringing two giant pandas to Gotham. “The greatest city in the world deserves two pandas,” she told the Daily News. “They’re a symbol of good luck.”

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Mega mall on parkland being defended by former top judge

From Willets Point United:

The court case, Sen. Tony Avella v. City of New York, is pending before Justice Manuel Mendez in New York State Supreme Court. Oral argument will take place on July 30, 2014 at 2:15PM at 71 Thomas Street, Room 210.

QDG must be so nervous about the prospect of an adverse court decision, that it has resorted to bringing in the ultimate New York judicial juggernaut – former Chief Judge Judith Kaye – to attempt to persuade the court to see things QDG’s way. Frankly, we think this is also a not-so-subtle attempt to intimidate Justice Mendez into siding with QDG, and to make it uncomfortable for him to do otherwise. After all, the legal issues raised by this case are clear-cut, and could be very well presented by any competent attorney who doesn’t happen to be a former Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals. What, then, does QDG gain by retaining former Chief Judge Judith Kaye for this case?

Well, for Justice Mendez to rule in favor of Plaintiffs/Petitioners (against QDG and Willets West), he would have to disagree with not just any QDG lawyer, but with Judith Kaye, former Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals. It is as if the former Chief Judge is telling Justice Mendez on behalf of QDG: “I find that this mega-mall is legal and may proceed. Who are you to disagree with me, the former Chief Judge at this state’s highest court, two levels above yours?”

With all due respect, it should be noted that Justice Mendez is at the Supreme Court – the lowest level of trial court in New York State. Above that is the Appellate Division. And above that is the Court of Appeals, where Judith Kaye was an Associate Judge from 1983 through 1993, and then Chief Judge for 15 years from 1993 through 2008, when she retired because of age restrictions. She is now of counsel, and apparently for hire, at the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom LLP.

We also note that Judith Kaye was first appointed to the Court of Appeals, and later designated its Chief Judge, by then-Governor Mario Cuomo – the same Mario Cuomo who, in 2012, brokered settlement talks on behalf of Mets owners including Fred Wilpon who were involved in Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. Bankruptcy trustee Irving Picard had sued the Wilpons to recover $386 million in swindle profits. Cuomo not only reduced the amount the Wilpons owe to $162 million, but also got Picard to drop his claim that the Wilpons were willfully blind to Madoff’s fraud. Now, Cuomo friend Judith Kaye is assisting the Wilpons’ Sterling Equities to lay claim to 40+ acres of Queens park land, to supplant it with a mega-mall.

We pray that Justice Manuel Mendez sees right through QDG’s attempt to strong-arm his decision in the Willets West matter by inserting former Chief Judge Judith Kaye into the case – and that Justice Mendez will have the fortitude to disregard undue pressure and render a decision that is based, as it should be, on the relevant facts and law.

Another Republican running against Addabbo

From the Times Ledger:

Queens Republicans announced a Rego Park real estate lawyer will assume the candidacy left vacant when former City Councilman Thomas Ognibene opted not to run for state Senate.

Michael Conigliaro filed substitution paperwork to run on the GOP and Conservative lines against state Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach), the city Board of Elections.

Conigliaro could not be reached for comment, but his campaign released a statement saying Conigliaro was compelled to step off the sidelines and stop complaining about the status quo.

“My campaign will focus on the issues that are important to the forgotten middle class: creating jobs, cutting taxes and making sure that the next generation has an even better shot at life,” Conigliaro said in a press release. “I’m running for state Senate because I want to change things for the better.”

His campaign did not respond to inquiries about which real estate law firm he managed, whether he was involved with any political clubs or who he planned to tap for campaign contributions.

There does not appear to be a campaign committee registered in his name, according to the state Board of Elections website.

Addabbo has $52,719.22 in his campaign coffers, according to BOE filings.

Cuomo rolling in brownfield developer dough

From Crains:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has collected at least $650,000 in campaign contributions from recipients of tax credits to redevelop industrial sites during the past four years, a review of state data show.

Related Cos., its executives and entities controlled by the New York-based developer of Time Warner Center were the biggest donor, giving at least $262,700 to Cuomo, who is running for a second term. Syracuse shopping-mall magnate Robert Congel, members of his family and executives at his Pyramid Cos. contributed $143,250.

Critics of the incentives, which have cost taxpayers more than $1 billion since 2006, say they benefit wealthy developers and have done little to clean up contaminated industrial sites. Unlike other states, New York doesn't limit the program to cleanup costs, and a study found that 94% of its brownfields tax credits have been used for redeveloping properties instead of remediating blighted land.

"It's all too common in Albany for recipients of aid from the state government to be among the biggest campaign contributors," said Bill Mahoney, who studies campaign-finance data for the New York Public Interest Research Group, a government watchdog. "Even if decisions aren't being directly influenced by checks, there's definitely an idea in Albany that interest groups will be less successful if they don't find a way to funnel money to elected officials."

Skeeter spraying tonight in northeastern Queens

From the Queens Courier:

On Wednesday, July 30, there will be West Nile spraying in parts of Queens to help reduce the mosquito population and the risk of the disease.

The spraying will take place between the hours of 8:30 p.m. and 6 a.m. the next morning. In case of bad weather, the application will be delayed until Thursday, July 31 during the same hours.

The following neighborhoods are being treated due to rising West Nile virus activity with high mosquito populations, according to the city’s Health Department:

Parts of College Point, Flushing, Linden Hill, Malba and Whitestone (Bordered by the East River, Powell’s Cove, 138th Street and 11th Avenue to the north; Flushing Bay and Flushing River to the west; Northern Boulevard to the south; and 149th Street, 20th Avenue and Whitestone Expressway to the east)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Halloran convicted; faces 20 years in the clink

From Crains:

A jury took only about 90 minutes Tuesday to convict former New York City Councilman Daniel Halloran of bribery charges in a scheme to buy a spot on the mayoral ballot for state Sen. Malcolm Smith.

Mr. Halloran was also found guilty of taking payoffs from what he thought were developers who wanted him to funnel city money their way. The men were actually an FBI agent and an FBI informant.

The 42-year-old Mr. Halloran spent five days on the witness stand in federal court in White Plains, N.Y. He faces up to 20 years in prison when he's sentenced Dec. 12.

Household garbage being dumped on commercial strip

From the Queens Ledger:

So what happens if public trashcans regularly overflow with trash? 
Well, according to the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) the wasted baskets will be removed, especially if the department believes they are being used by residents to illegally dispose of household garbage.

“DSNY will remove baskets if they are being misused, or if the location no longer meets the requirements for litter basket placement,” explained a representative of the DSNY.

On Grand Avenue, several residents and business owners have watched the large metal baskets appear and disappear on dozens of corners throughout the business district.

After one can was recently removed because nearby homeowners were regularly dumping large quantities of trash, the location became a dumping ground for trash bags and litter.

The shop owner explained that the same residents are dumping trash where the bin once stood, leaving them and other business owners responsible for the cleanup.

Liu's post-it note ruse

Apparently, Johnny's volunteers have been going door-to-door, and when no one answers, they place these post-it notes to make them think that the candidate himself stopped by, when he actually didn't.

Council legislation introduced to get rid of those bins

From Brooklyn Magazine:

On July 24, Councilman Gentile, who represents Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, Dyker Heights, brought Bill Int 0409-2014 before the City Council for consideration, reports the Bay Ridge Journal. The bill calls for not only the immediate removal of the bins from city property, but also adds a $250 fine for first-time offenders of the would-be law and a $500 fine for repeat offenders.

As it stands, the Department of Sanitation can’t take immediate action. First, the DOS must paste a label on the bins warning the owners to remove them and then 30 days after that the DOS can physically remove the bin. Bill Int 0409-2014 would do away with that 30-day waiting period if the bin’s owner fails to include their contact information on the pink monstrosities.