Thursday, October 23, 2014

Council members order NYPD to ignore the Feds

From the Politicker:

The New York City Council overwhelmingly passed legislation today to stop the Department of Correction and the NYPD from honoring immigration detainers issued by the federal government unless they are accompanied by a judge’s warrant.

The council voted 41 in favor and 6 against on two bills that will largely end cooperation with the federal government when it requests an immigration detainer — which asks Corrections or the NYPD to hold a person for 48 hours when they might otherwise be released so that the person can be handed over the the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency. The requests are often made when an undocumented immigrant is being released from jail for another crime, or if they have been in NYPD custody for questioning.

Under the new legislation, which Mayor Bill de Blasio has said he supports, the city will honor immigration waivers if the federal government requests them with a judge’s warrant — and even then, only if the subject of the warrant was convicted within the last five years of a violent or serious crime, or is a possible match on the terrorism watch list.

So they passed a law that said the NYPD should ignore a federal judge's warrant? And only 2 Queens councilmembers (Vallone and Ulrich) voted against this? Holy crap, we're in big trouble.

Home sweet homes finally repaired

From CBS 2:

Nearly two years after Superstorm Sandy, two friends in a Queens neighborhood are finally back in their own homes.

As CBS 2’s Elise Finch reported, it took extensive repair work and help from volunteers and each other.

The homeowners credit the St. Bernard Project, Catholic Charities and Friends of Rockaway for donating materials and labor to get them back in their houses.

Alan Hevesi turns to public speaking

From Capital New York:

Alan Hevesi, who served as the comptroller of New York City and New York State before pleading guilty to state corruption charges, will speak next Monday in Queens about the corrosive influence of money in politics.

A notice for the event was posted online by the Central Queens Y, home of the Hevesi Library, which he helped co-found. Hevesi is also a former member of the New York State Assembly and taught public policy at Queens College for years.

The title of Hevesi's speech is “Big Money, Congressional Combat, and the 2014 Elections.”

Hevesi was considered a rising star in Democratic circles before he resigned.

In 2006, after winning re-election as state comptroller, Hevesi resigned from office and pleaded guilty to a felony for assigning a state worker to chauffeur his ailing wife, without reimbursing the state for the service. In 2010, Hevesi pleaded guilty to what the Times called “a sprawling corruption scheme” involving the state’s pension fund. Hevesi admitted he accepted about $1 million in exchange for steering $250 million to associates.

The event will take place at 67-09 108th Street, in Forest Hills, which Hevesi represented for many years, at 1:30 p.m. on October 27, with a suggestion donation of $5 for members, and $8 for non-members.

Crazy cost associated with 911 system

From the Daily News:

The city's 911 system still isn’t fixed and the costs are soaring out of control.

Problems with the Fire Department’s dispatch desk outlined in a city investigation Tuesday are just one flaw in the convoluted 911 emergency response system that officials have been trying to fix for years.

Back in 2004 the Bloomberg administration announced ambitious plans to modernize 911 by linking police, fire and EMS systems in one well-coordinated computerized network. The choreography soon fell apart, and a system that was supposed to cost $1.3 billion and be finished by 2009 is now expected to cost $2.03 billion and won’t be finished until August 2016.

In May, Mayor de Blasio froze the city’s 911 upgrade project and ordered a 60-day review. In August, his administration outlined what he called the “root causes” of delays, including the city’s overreliance on outside consultants and lousy communications between city agencies. De Blasio cut back on consultants and put just one agency — the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications — in charge.

The Fire Department, meanwhile, made temporary fixes to streamline communications and will soon request more money for upgrades so EMS will be automatically notified of all “active fire” calls.

The supersizing of Astoria won't end any time soon

From Crains:

Another major residential development is now likely to join two other huge apartment projects in Astoria, Queens, that builders want to construct along the neighborhood’s suddenly booming waterfront.

Shibber Khan, the real estate investor and developer who operates the firm Criterion Group, has scooped up 11-12 30th Drive, a parcel that stretches from Vernon Boulevard along the Astoria waterfront to 12th Street. The property can accommodate residential buildings of up to 10 stories, and totaling 460,000 square feet, if a component of affordable housing is included.

Mr. Khan paid about $57 million for the land, which is now home to a sprawling low-rise warehouse occupied by wholesale grocer Bohea Associates. The deal follows a couple of others recently nearby.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Someone is finally facing reality

From the Daily News:

Anthony Weiner is done with politics.

The disgraced former congressman issued his surest statement yet that his career in public service is finished.

“Realistically, my political career is probably over,” Weiner told in an interview published Tuesday. “The only job I ever wanted more than Congress was mayor, and I don’t think that either of those two jobs are going to be available.”

“So, no, it’s not like, ‘OK, how do I get back in?’ I’m not thinking that anymore. I think I kind of took my stab at that,” he added.

Something really needs to be done about Main Street

Photos courtesy of the Flushing Phantom

DeBlasio better at Building it Back

From the Queens Chronicle:

Approximately 6,400 homeowners across the city — half of those still actively seeking help from Build it Back — have been made offers for reimbursement checks or reconstruction. At the beginning of the year, that number was only 451.

That’s when the de Blasio administration overhauled the program, eliminating income eligibility requirements, embedding staffers directly in the communities affected by the storm and putting Amy Peterson in charge of the program, which the mayor said was “his favorite change” to Build it Back.

De Blasio said there have been 727 construction starts and 878 reimbursement checks sent to date. That’s several hundred more just since Labor Day.

At the beginning of the year, those numbers were zero ... and zero.

The mayor has also set new benchmarks for progress. By Dec. 31, his administration is aiming for 1,000 construction starts and 1,500 reimbursement checks cut.

Douchebag developer out to destroy LIC's manufacturing sector

From the Real Deal:

Investors in a far-flung corner of industrial Long Island City are looking for a way to transform a 300,000-square-foot development site into a property that will raise its neighbors’ values. Nigel Shamash, principal broker at the firm 5cre, is courting developers to see who can come up with the best use for a property in a gritty section of the neighborhood between Newtown Creek and the Long Island Expressway.

Shamash said he represents a group of owners who purchased the two-story warehouse at 30-02 Borden Avenue last week, and is issuing a request for proposals to develop the site into something that will help jump start the area’s gentrification.

The owners’ preference is for a hotel, but the broker said they’d also consider creative uses such as an office building or shared work spaces – anything that will breed new life into the area. Neighbors include Silvercup Studios’ east lot as well as the Fairfield Inn and Best Western hotels.

"Let us know if you want us to honor you"

LaborPress seeks council members to nominate themselves for this very important honor. And the minimum sponsorship is $3,000, because these days the unions and the council members they love both represent the little people.

Maybe if they were a little more selective, they wouldn't get screwed over so often.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Big men dream big

From the Observer:

Appearing with Vice President Joseph Biden Jr. today, Gov. Andrew Cuomo vowed to dramatically reshape the city’s two aging airports and turn two other little-known airports in major economic hubs.

The vice president and governor touted the value of infrastructure investment, with Mr. Biden providing the sweeping rhetoric and Mr. Cuomo the nuts-and-bolts of what could come to the airports: a Long Island Rail Road and ferry link to LaGuardia Airport, tax free zones at small airports in the city’s suburbs and a speedier transit option for John F. Kennedy Airport on the southern tip of Queens.

Mr. Cuomo was vague on details. Tax free zones, a favorite tool of Mr. Cuomo’s, would be established at Stewart and Republic Airports to encourage business investment and take on some of the traffic that LaGuardia and JFK now absorb. He touted the idea of a rail link, with no apparent means of funding it, to LaGuardia, along with a ferry. He would also increase the speed and efficiency of transportation to JFK, now served by a rail link from an LIRR hub in Jamaica, Queens, and add food and retail options to the airport.

He did not tell reporters how the cash-strapped state, Port Authority or Metropolitan Transportation Authority would pay for these upgrades, but told reporters all options “were on the table,” including new tolls on bridges.

Even more homeless shelters for Queens!

From the Daily News:

The city is planning to open more emergency homeless shelters in Queens in the coming months, including one in Far Rockaway.

That news brought an outcry from leaders in Rockaway, where the city recently converted the former DayTop center in Arverne into a homeless shelter.

"Whenever the city has a problem they sent it to Rockaway," said Jonathan Gaska, district manager of Community Board 14. "It's a matter of fairness."

More than 100 adult men are slated to move into the former Rockaway Manor on Beach 8 St., which was severely damaged two years ago during Hurricane Sandy.

Officials from the Department of Homeless Services met with legislators from across the borough last Thursday to let them know their districts were being scoped out for possible shelter sites.

But no specifics were given during the pow-wow at the Overlook in Forest Park, which has led to a borough-wide guessing game.

One of the targeted districts, represented by Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, includes Fresh Meadows and Bayside which currently have no homeless shelters.

City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley and Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan, who both represent Ridgewood, were also notified. There are rumors a shelter is planned for that neighborhood.

Other districts under consideration include ones represented by Assemblymembers Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst), Jeffron Aubrey (D-Corona)and Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills).

And do you know why this is happening? DeBlasio loosened the criteria for acceptance into the homeless system, which benefits the fat cats (campaign donors) who have contracts with the city to warehouse the homeless.

Where Bloomberg offered shelter to roughly 40% of applicants, de Blasio’s team boosted the acceptance rate to 49% or more, hitting a high of nearly 57% in March.

Heard about the skel that beat his stepdaughter to death this weekend in a shelter? This was in the Times:

The shelter on Cooper Street is managed by Housing Bridge, a nonprofit group under contract to the Department of Homeless Services to provide transitional housing and social services to homeless families. Housing Bridge, which was established in 2006, manages 1,000 transitional housing units for families and adults in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens, according to a spokesman. Its founder and chief executive, Isaac Leshinsky, is a longtime supporter of Mr. de Blasio, and contributed to his mayoral run last year.

This actually smells like a scandal and you'd think the papers would report it as such instead of demonizing the residents who don't want these human warehouses in their neighborhoods.

Tack on another $1500 per person to homeless cost

From the NY Post:

The city has shelled out more than $200,000 to store a homeless woman’s belongings — enough to have set her up in a swanky Manhattan apartment for years.

Andrea Logan’s possessions have been locked up — at taxpayer expense — since she lost her Upper East Side apartment in 2006 after a debilitating stroke, court records reveal.

And the city has picked up the tab, following a state law that requires it to cover storage expenses for homeless people.

In the years since Logan became homeless, the cost to taxpayers for providing such storage to homeless people has soared from a total $6.8 million in fiscal year 2006 to $14.6 million in fiscal year 2014.

The average cost per case also rose, from $1,333 a month to $1,549.

State law mandates that the city pay for storing furniture and personal belongings for homeless people “so long as eligibility for public assistance continues and so long as the circumstances necessitating the storage continue to exist.”

They all have something to hide

From the Daily News:

Two top deputies of Mayor de Blasio, who campaigned on creating a new era of government openness, commonly use their personal Gmail accounts to discuss city-related issues, the Daily News has learned.

First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris and director of intergovernmental affairs Emma Wolfe routinely communicate via their private email addresses, according to multiple government insiders.

Good-government groups contend that’s a behind-the-scenes way to dodge oversight and contrary to the open government de Blasio vowed to run as he campaigned for mayor.

“Public officials should use their public emails for public activities,” said Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group.

Through the law, the public can legally access copies of emails sent from official government addresses.

Personal emails from City Hall honchos discussing government issues are also fair play under the state’s Freedom of Information Law.

But reporters and curious members of the public need to know those exact addresses when making a request for information.

Call to repair Jamaica Bay bulkheads

From the Daily News:

Jamaica Bay's crumbling seawalls are putting some Queens residents in jeopardy of flooding.

City Councilman Donovan Richards and other officials called on the city to repair Hurricane Sandy-damaged bulkheads in order to protect Arverne streets and homes from the bay’s deluge.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is studying the seawalls, but the report will not be completed quickly enough to stave off current flooding threats, Richards said.