Yearly Archives: 2013

NYPD to hold free public document shredding event at Queens Center Mall


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Courtesy of NYPD

Looking to help start the New Year on the right foot? The NYPD is holding a free document shredding public event to make sure personal information does not get into the wrong hands.

The NYPD’s Crime Prevention Section will be holding the event at Queens Center Mall on Sunday, Jan. 5 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the intersection of 59th Avenue and Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst under the JCPenney sign. Police will help the public shred documents containing any personal or sensitive information for free.

Participants will also be able to bring their old hard drives to the event and have them destroyed. During the event you could also have your electronic devices registered with the NYPD Operation ID Program.

 

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What Queens pols hope to accomplish for their constituents in 2014


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File photos

As we enter 2014, The Queens Courier asked our elected officials: “What do you hope to accomplish for your constituents in 2014?”

Councilmember Costa Constantinides
There are many opportunities before us to ensure that our district continues to move forward. I will work for cleaner and safer streets, a healthier environment and a better education system. We look forward to working hard for everyone on these and many other priorities in the new year.

Councilmember Daniel Dromm
In the next year, I plan to work with the Department of Education to create methodologies and policies in our schools that are more conducive to learning. I also want to continue my work to improve pedestrian safety through a three-prong approach: engineering, education and enforcement.

Councilmember Julissa Ferreras
I look forward to improving the quality of life for all of my constituents, especially those who are residing along the Roosevelt Avenue corridor. In addition, I look forward to working with the Department of Education to secure more school seats and address the overcrowding issues in our district through the use of our Education Task Force. 2014 is going to be a great year!

Councilmember Peter Koo
With several projects taking off in northeast Queens, 2014 will bring exciting changes to Flushing and its surrounding area. I wish all constituents a prosperous 2014!

 

Councilmember Karen Koslowitz
I hope to continue to bring needed services to my community and to work with my constituents to make their lives easier by helping them to cut through the red tape of city government.

Councilmember Rory Lancman
I hope to make life more affordable for regular New Yorkers.

 

 

 

Councilmember Donovan Richards
I’m excited about the opportunity to work with our incoming borough president to keep Queens on the map. Melinda is someone who understands what this borough needs and how to move it forward.

Councilmember Paul Vallone
Our district office will immediately address constituent concerns and work with fellow councilmembers to reclaim outstanding capital funding and bring District 19 back to the top where it belongs.

 


Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer

In 2014, I look forward to working towards making Vision Zero a reality. The growing number of fatalities and injuries that continue to occur as a result of reckless driving and poor street design are unacceptable. No pedestrian, motorist, or cyclist should ever fear losing their lives on our city’s streets. In the new year and throughout my second term in office, I will continue to fight toward making our streets safer for all.

Councilmember Mark Weprin
I will work to keep co-ops and homes affordable and make sure my diverse district continues to be a great place to live and raise a family. I will also work with our new mayor to make our schools even better.

 

 

Councilmember Ruben Wills
I am hopeful that the strides we have made within our local schools will continue to see growth, in particular I am most excited about our feeder initiative expanding throughout the district. It is my sincerest hope that in 2014, District 28 continues to experience economic growth, improve on our education system, increase job opportunities, and share in a greater standard of living for all.

Assemblymember Ed Braunstein
I will continue to fight to reduce the plane noise that has had a detrimental effect on the quality of life of my constituents in northeast Queens. I will also continue to push for the passage of legislation that would provide tax fairness to middle-class co-op owners in New York City.

Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder
I will focus on individual Sandy recovery assistance, but will also ensure that large scale protection measures are in place so we are all more resilient for the future. It is unfortunate that it took a natural disaster to illustrate our deficiencies, but we must learn from our mistakes and use the opportunity to learn and grow.

Assemblymember Ron Kim
I am tremendously proud of the work we have done, but there is still more to accomplish. I will be introducing a bill to put some focus on character development in our education system, making sure that transportation plans include our borough, and looking into ways to bring in more affordable housing to downtown Flushing.

 

Assemblymember Mike Miller
My main legislative priority is using my newly appointed chairmanship to the Task Force on People with Disabilities to support legislation and directives that will directly benefit the quality of life and increase available services to the disabled. As a member of the Aging, Education, and Veterans’ Affairs committees, I will work to make sure our schools receive proper funding, our veterans are well taken care of, and our seniors receive the services and care they need.

Assemblymember Francisco Moya
I hope to pass the NYS DREAM Act this legislative session. And personally, I hope to see the greatest football team in the world, FC Barcelona, win La Liga.

Assemblymember Nily Rozic
For too many New Yorkers, the economic recovery still remains a figment. In 2014, I want to make sure government is doing its part to bolster economic security for working families, provide a sound education and improve everyone’s quality of life.

Assemblymember Aravella Simotas
The top priority in 2014 will be a renewed push for my Rape-is-Rape legislation aimed at protecting survivors by redefining the legal definition of the term ‘rape.’ Semantics really do matter, and this bill eliminates the unnecessary distinctions in terminology that de-legitimatize the trauma of rape.

 

Assemblymember David Weprin
As we enter into the new year, one of my main priorities is to ensure legislation will provide New Yorkers with much-needed aid in education, public safety, small business support, job creation, transportation, healthcare, rebuilding our infrastructure from Sandy, affordable housing, tax relief for New York’s working families and that other vital public services become law.

State Senator Tony Avella
Once again, my New Year’s resolution for 2014 will be to try and enact campaign finance reform in Albany and term limits for state legislatures.

 

 

 

State Senator Michael Gianaris
In 2014, I hope to see continued success for western Queens neighborhoods. As our communities continue to grow, I will fight for more good schools and hospital beds, better mass transit options and increased and improved green space. I wish everyone a happy and healthy new year!

State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky
I am looking forward to seeing my constituents at my new district office at 142-29 37th Avenue in downtown Flushing. It is exciting being closer to my colleagues in government, nonprofit groups and businesses, and I am optimistic that 2014 will be a productive and successful year for our community.

 

Congressmember Joseph Crowley
It is imperative that in 2014 Congress enacts comprehensive immigration reform to ensure we bring millions of undocumented immigrants out of the shadows, allow them to live and work here without fear of being separated from their families and offer them the opportunity to fulfill America’s promise. The time is now for meaningful reform, and I am hopeful that my Republican colleagues are equally as committed to seeing it through.

Congressmember Steve Israel
I will continue working to make sure airplane noise is kept under control, co-op and condo owners are treated fairly and are eligible for disaster grants from FEMA like other homeowners, and to improve quality-of-life issues that affect my constituents in Queens. I’m proud to represent part of Queens, and I resolve to keep working my hardest.

 

Congressmember Gregory Meeks
I would want everyone affected by the economic downturn and Superstorm Sandy to have a full recovery, that we pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill and a safe return for the troops in Afghanistan.

Congressmember Grace Meng
Continuing to work hard to maintain and improve the quality of life in Queens. So many issues to tackle: strengthening the economy, creating jobs, reducing the backlog for our veterans, protecting our seniors and children, supporting small businesses, continuing to help those impacted by Sandy, immigration reform, etc.

 

 

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Trio of local female filmmakers hope to make mark in movie industry


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Courtesy of graphic designer Alison Chin and photographer Ben Jarosch

A trio of female filmmakers has come together to create a unique film, as they look to become leaders in an industry started by men.

The all-female filmmaking team, made up of director, writer and lead actress Victoria Negri, and producers Effie Fradelos and Katie Maguire, has begun working on a film called “Gold Star.”

The film, which was written by 26-year-old Negri, who lives in Manhattan, is based on the story of a girl growing up and building a relationship with a father 65 years older than her.

“Gold Star,” expected to begin filming in mid-April, will star Negri as the lead role and is based on the writer’s real life experiences with her father, who passed away in 2012.

“I always hoped people would want to work on my film while I was writing it, but I don’t think I ever really imagined I’d have people equally enthusiastic about my passion project as I am,” said Negri. “It’s especially important for me to involve other female filmmakers because I think it’s important to make movies about women that are created by women.”

This movie is the first time the filmmakers have come together to create a completely female team working on a female story bringing audiences real emotions and experiences they can feel a connection to.

“It is important for females to dispel all of the false, preconceived notions that women cannot work together,” said Maguire, 34, from Brooklyn. “As the popularity of independent film is growing so is the number of female directors and producers. It is important that women stick together and help bring to life stories from a female perspective.”

The filmmakers are aware they are working in an industry founded by men, but they remain strong and plan on working hard to turn the industry into one led by women. The film also plans to serve as a model to other women looking to enter the film industry.

“We represent the everyday woman filmmaker,” said Fradelos, 26, born in Astoria and now living in Bayside. “I think if you’re a young girl or a woman and you want to break into the industry, stop looking for others to give you their hand, and do it yourself, most people need that push and as filmmakers we should all push each other.”

Casting for the film is underway and the team hopes to film the movie in Connecticut and New York.

To raise money for the preproduction of the film, the filmmakers will hold a fundraiser on Tuesday, January 28 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Esperanto N.Y.C., located at 145 Avenue C in Manhattan. There will be a $20 entry fee to the event which will feature drinks, a raffle and live music.

The film is expected to be completed by the fall of 2014. To learn more about “Gold Star” and the female filmmakers you can visit the official website, Facebook page or follow @GoldStarFilm on Twitter.

 

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Bloomberg signs last bills as mayor, including indoor e-cigarette ban


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

NYC Mayor’s Office Flickr / Photo by Edward Reed

Michael Bloomberg held a marathon bill signing session Monday, enacting his final 22 pieces of legislation as mayor, including an indoor ban on e-cigarettes.

The new law includes electronic cigarettes in the city’s Smoke-Free Air Act and will prohibit their use in restaurants, offices, parks, beaches and other public spaces.

“E-cigarettes heat up a chemical solution and emit vapors to provide its user with nicotine, the same highly addictive ingredient found in combustible cigarettes. The next generation of potential smokers could gravitate to getting their nicotine fix from these products,” Bloomberg said.

A protestor who was at the bill signing lit up a cigarette and read a statement against the smoking ban, according to published reports.

Additional legislation Bloomberg signed Monday included a bill that could lead to the ban of plastic foam containers following a year-long study to determine if the material can be recycled, and the creation of a database to track expenditures related to Sandy.

“EPS [Expanded Polystyrene] foam is a major source of litter, where it often breaks up into small pieces, littering our streets, waterways, catch basins, and neighborhood sidewalks. EPS foam also costs the city money. The city must pay $1.8 million annually to have it landfilled where it can sit for more than five hundred years,” Bloomberg said.

 

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De Blasio to be sworn in at Brooklyn home in private ceremony


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

Bill de Blasio will ring in the New Year in his Park Slope home by being officially sworn in as the 109th mayor of New York City.

As is tradition, the swearing in will take place during an intimate ceremony just after midnight on Jan. 1. State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman will officiate,  de Blasio announced Monday night.

The private event will be attended by the incoming mayor’s wife Chirlane McCray, daughter Chiara and son Dante.

The public can watch the event live online at NYC.gov, and photos will be posted to the Mayor’s Office Flickr page.

“We are excited to share this important moment with the people of New York,” said de Blasio. “From live-streaming the midnight swearing-in to reserving tickets for the general public to the ceremony at City Hall, Inauguration 2014 will be open and accessible to people from across the five boroughs.”

De Blasio will be sworn in later that day in a public ceremony at City Hall by former President Bill Clinton.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Tuesday: Sun and clouds mixed. High 37. WSW winds at 5 to 10 mph, increasing to 15 to 25 mph. Tuesday night: Clear skies. Low 26. Winds WNW at 10 to 20 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Z Hotel’s New Year’s Eve special

Open bar and buffet until midnight, festive party favors, champagne toast at midnight, DJs Rob TV and Lil Roy. $125 ($39.95 dinner only/$75 open bar only). Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

De Blasio vows to end horse-drawn carriages in Central Park

The days of the horse-drawn carriage in New York City are galloping to a close. Read more: NBC New York

City sues FedEx for $52M over ‘illegal’ cigarette deliveries

New York City has sued FedEx, accusing the package-delivery company of illegally delivering millions of contraband cigarettes to people’s homes in violation of a 2006 settlement. Read more: New York Post

Speaker Silver calls for faster increase in state minimum wage

New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) said Monday that he wants to accelerate the state’s scheduled minimum wage increase to $9 by 2015 and tie it to the inflation rate. Read more: CBS New York

Woman protests Bloomberg’s policies by lighting cigarette inside City Hall

As Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed a bill banning e-cigarette use indoors as one of the last pieces of legislation he approved, an opponent protested Bloomberg’s policies by lighting up a real cigarette right inside City Hall. Read more: CBS New York

Dead frog found in salad from chain sandwich shop

A sandwich restaurant chain says it’s looking into how a dead frog got into a customer’s salad in Manhattan Monday. Read more: NBC New York

Francis Lewis HS tops Aussies on the court


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Australia came to Queens to play basketball, only to be blasted off the court by the Francis Lewis boys’ varsity team.

Melbourne’s Club Kilsyth Cobras arrived stateside Thursday and played the Francis Lewis High School Patriots (PSAL 5-1) Friday afternoon.

“It’s a good cultural experience for both teams,” said Gerard Ciarleglio, Francis Lewis’ head coach. “For them to come half way across the planet, the boys were excited. They [were] looking forward to representing New York.”

The Cobras raised $22,000 to make the trip, said coach Darren King. After playing Francis Lewis, they head to Charlotte and then to Los Angeles for games. In Melbourne, sports are played outside of school and the Cobra players train and play primarily on weekends.

When the noon game started on Friday, it was about 4 a.m. back home for the Aussies, King said.

Sophomore Jaheam Cornwall, the Patriots’ 15-year-old starting point guard, led both his team and the scoreboard, ending the game with 22 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds – the first triple-double Francis Lewis has seen in about three years, Ciarleglio said.

Cornwall achieved his goal of “being aggressive” right out the gate, faking and driving hard to the basket, making lay-up after lay-up throughout the game.

Guard Ashton Rosa seemed to be the always-open man, both hitting from the perimeter and going to the basket. He racked up 17 points and seven rebounds.

Despite the Cobras’ fast transition and quick offense, they were unable to see through the majority of their shots. The Patriots nearly tripled the international visitors’ score through all four quarters.

Francis Lewis maintained a good defense and grabbed rebounds from the Cobras’ failed shots. Center Quentin Williams followed Cornwall in rebounds, ending with 15 points, nine rebounds and three blocks.

Following the 84-30 victory, Ciarleglio said he wants his team to “keep playing hard,” and particularly work on executing offensive plays, passing and boxing out.

For the Cobras, the next move was getting some rest.

“They need some sleep,” King said.

 

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Boys & Girls Club dedicates center to Helen Marshall


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Katelyn Di Salvo

KATELYN DI SALVO

Helen Marshall’s 12 years as borough president were topped off on Friday when the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Queens dedicated a new learning center in her honor.

A ceremony was held to show off the Helen M. Marshall Learning Center, and attendees took a hard hat tour of the progress in the newly constructed clubhouse.

Boys & Girls Club Chairman-Emeritus Joseph Ferrara presented Marshall with a plaque that will hang in the new learning center. This is in recognition for all of Marshall’s support in the expansion of the Boys & Girls Club of Metro Queens, including donating $4.75 million to the capital campaign.

At the ceremony, Marshall reminisced over her times in the Bronx House as a child, and believes that investing in The Boys & Girls Club of Metro Queens is necessary for the children of the community.

“My experience in the Bronx House taught me to get along with others, and taught me wonderful things about life and happiness,” she said.

Carol Simon, Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Club of Metro Queens, is excited about the new expansion, saying that they will be able to reach out to many more kids in the community.

The new learning center will include educational programs like homework help, tutoring, and the new iReady literacy and math programs.

“Basically, we’re enhancing the educational experience for young people,” Simon said. “We can’t just be a local gym and swim organization anymore, we need to work with the local schools and make sure our kids are doing better.”

 

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Mayor Bloomberg’s official portrait unveiled


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/@NYCMayorsOffice

Mayor Michael Bloomberg will be leaving office shortly, but his image will continue to live on in City Hall.

The mayor’s official portrait was unveiled Monday and now hangs in City Hall outside of the Blue Room, along with all recent official mayoral portraits, according to Bloomberg’s office.

Painted by portrait artist Jon R. Friedman, the painting is oil on canvas and is 50 inches tall by 36 inches wide.

It was created from a photograph taken of the mayor in June of this year, where he is standing in the Bullpen at City Hall.

Though the painting was privately funded and is a gift to the city, it needed approval from the Public Design Commission, a requirement for any artwork adorning city property. Final approval was given on Dec. 9.

 

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Report shows timeline of day Avonte Oquendo went missing


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File Photo

It has been almost four months since Avonte Oquendo  disappeared and new information on the day the autistic teen went missing has surfaced, leaving larger questions, according to the boy’s family’s attorney.

Avonte was last seen at the Center Boulevard School at 1-50 51st Ave. in Long Island City around 12:38 p.m. on  Oct. 4. There have been conflicting reports on how the Rego Park teen, who cannot verbally communicate and is supposed to be supervised at all times, managed to leave the school.

According to a Department of Education occurrence report obtained by David Perecman, an attorney for Avonte’s family, a timeline shows what happened before, during and after the boy went missing.

The 14-year-old boy was part of a class with three people watching the group. The number of children in the class is still unknown, according to the report. The group entered the stairwell on the fifth floor and then exited on the second floor, but in the middle of the descent Avonte got away from the group and made his way to the first floor.

The boy then is seen through surveillance cameras walking by the security desk twice before leaving the side door, on Center Boulevard, which had been left opened, according to the report. A few minutes later, a school safety agent closed the door.

According to the report, the boy’s teachers did not notice him missing until 12:40 p.m. and did not notify the assistant principal until 12:56 p.m. who then went to the safety agent at the main desk who told her she had not seen Avonte leave the school. Instead, she emphasized she had seen the boy go up the stairs.

Perecman said the safety agent’s story does not match the surveillance tape that shows the boy leaving the school. He also said the agent initially told Avonte’s grandmother she had not stopped the boy from leaving the school because she didn’t know he was disabled.

“It’s really very distressing to think these are the people watching over your children,” said Perecman. “This place is dysfunctional. These kids should be watching the teachers.”

The timeline report also shows the school administration did not know Avonte had left the building until almost two hours later because they did not have the security codes needed to access the surveillance tapes, according to Perecman.

Perecman also said a lockdown was not put into effect until 2 p.m. because the assistant principal’s initial request for a “soft lockdown” was denied to make sure they did not “upset other students.”

The Department of Education did not respond for comment.

Volunteers and family searching for the boy moved from their outdoor Long Island City headquarters to an indoor one at 21-81A 24th Street in Astoria

The new headquarters will be opened from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Volunteers are encouraged to stop by the site or call 718-606-6610. For more information visit the Official Help Find Avonte Facebook page.

Since Avonte went missing, the reward to find him has increased to $95,000.

Avonte was last seen wearing a gray striped shirt, black jeans and black sneakers. He is 5’3” tall and weighs 125 pounds.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime stoppers website or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

 

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Pol wants quicker Sandy recovery from state agency


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

File Photo

The push for quicker Sandy recovery continues, and now the pressure is on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC).

Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder requested Joe Martens, DEC Commissioner, and the agency expedite all “permits related to recovery projects in the Sandy-damaged communities of southern Queens” to “wherever possible.”

“Our families are working around the clock to recover and rebuild from Sandy and every agency on every level of government must do the same,” Goldfeder said.

Families throughout Howard Beach, as well as Broad Channel and the rest of the Rockaways, continue to wait on approval for permits from various agencies, including the DEC, Goldfeder said.

Additionally, pols and residents want to see repairs to the Rockaway boardwalk as well as the area’s baffle walls.

“We need NYS DEC to expedite all permitting for our boardwalk,” said John Cori, Rockaway resident and co-founder of the Friends of Rockaway, “especially the retaining wall that will serve as a protective barrier and help in mitigation efforts to prepare our community for future storms.”

The boardwalk and walls, although designed and constructed by the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation and the Economic Development Corporation, need DEC approval before rebuilding efforts can move forward.

“If there is a lesson to be taken from Superstorm Sandy, it is that we cannot afford to wait,” Goldfeder said in a letter to Martens.

“Our families have been through enough suffering and there is no excuse for even a moment’s delay,” he said.


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De Blasio selects Carmen Farina as next schools chancellor


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter / @NYCTransition

Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has named Carmen Farina, a veteran employee of the New York City public school system, as the next schools chancellor.

“We need someone who understands that the people who make the schools work and the parents who are the first and last educators of our children, that they must be treated like the stakeholders that they are,” de Blasio said at Monday’s announcement at Brooklyn’s William Alexander Middle School, the school his two children attended.

Calling Farina a “brilliant innovator” who “knows how to bring people together,” he said the selection was important not only because she is going to be the chancellor of the city school’s system, but because “she is also going to be the chancellor for my child,” referring to his son Dante, a  junior at Brooklyn Technical High School.

“This is such a privilege to be able to come back to a system that has so much work that has to done, but to doing it from stance of a progressive agenda,” Farina said.

Farina, 70, has more than four decades of experience working in the city’s school system, serving as a teacher at P.S. 29 in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, a principal at P.S. 6 on the Upper East Side, and a superintendent of Brooklyn’s District 15. She last worked for the Department of Education as a deputy chancellor before retiring in 2006.

Taking lessons from her own experiences as a student in the city’s school system, Farina promised to make parents real partners in their children’s education and prioritize college and career readiness.

Farina’s name had been floated around for weeks as one of the top contenders for the job, though she was initially hesitant to come out of retirement.

She will replace current Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, who is stepping down Tuesday. He has held the position since April 2011.

De Blasio has promised departures from certain education policies of the Bloomberg administration. He proposed to charge rent to charter schools that use space in city school buildings, eliminate letter grades on school progress reports and reduce the focus on high-stake testing

Farina has been a longtime trusted friend and advisor to de Blasio, whom she met while he was a school board member in District 15. She shares his views on testing and will assist in his push for universal pre-k and expansion of after-school programs for middle schoolers.

Among challenges Farina will face as chancellor of the country’s largest public school system is a contract negotiation with the United Federation of Teachers.

 

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Police arrest a Queens Parks Department manager for sexual abuse of a minor


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rene Herrera

A Woodhaven resident and long-time Parks Department employee was arrested on Sunday and charged with three counts of sexual abuse of an underage family member, stemming from his alleged actions five years ago.

Rene Herrera, 57, who oversees such green spaces as Juniper Valley Park, sexually abused an 11-year-old female relative on three separate occasions in 2008, cops said.

The mother of the girl, who is now 16, reported the incidents to the police on Saturday, December 28. Police have not released specific details of the alleged abuse.

Herrera has worked with the Parks Department for about 25 years, according to the Juniper Park Civic Association (JPCA), and became a regional manager in 2002. He is married and has three children.

People that worked with Herrera said that he is a good person.

“I’ve worked with him on many projects. I’ve known him for a long time, he’s a team player,” said Simcha Waisman, vice president of the Richmond Hill Block Association. “From 2008 to now? Something is wrong with that.”

And Herrera has been very helpful and reliable in managing the parks in his districts, according to JPCA.

“He has been efficient and responsive to any issues we may have, always attempting to solve any problems that are reported to him,” said Lorraine Sciulli of JPCA. “He is readily available by phone if we have the need to get in touch with him quickly. He has always been cooperative and helpful to the JPCA.”

Herrera has been suspended without pay, according to a Parks Department spokesperson.

 

Follow on Twitter @liamlaguerre 

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Star of Queens: Jessame Hannus, Transportation Alternatives Queens Activist Committee co-chair; Biking Public Project co-founder


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

DSC_0408

COMMUNITY SERVICE: Jessame Hannus is the co-chair of Transportation Alternatives (TA) Queens Activist Committee and a co-founder of the Biking Public Project.

BACKGROUND: By night Hannus is an activist, but by day she works as an insurance broker. “I have no training in urban planning, but have long been fascinated with the correlation between planning community, what makes a healthy neighborhood or shopping district, and how environment contributes to that. I grew up in a fairly suburban community with the amazing good fortune to have free public transportation and moved from there to Los Angeles and then New York,” said Hannus. “I have never actually owned a car! Even in LA I took the city bus.”

FAVORITE MEMORY: “Getting involved with TA Queens Committee really changed my life. I got to know a truly phenomenal community of caring and committed people who I now call friends,” said Hannus. Being part of the committee has allowed Hannus to be empowered to become a better public speaker and organizer.

One of Hannus’ favorite events was the “Around the World in Dumplings” ride she led last January. During the ride the group sampled cuisine from eight different countries in a seven-mile ride, and each stop Hannus gave the group some information about ongoing activism in the immediate neighborhood. “I loved being able to share my love of food, the culture of Queens and spread the word about community involvement in a way that was fun,” she said.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: According to Hannus, the biggest challenge with complete streets advocating in Queens is explaining the concept to those who are not looped in to the urban planning community. “Time and time again I encounter people who cannot envision a way things could be better. It can be disheartening and discouraging, so I can only imagine how the DOT [Department of Transportation] and City Planning feel when they encounter this sentiment time and time again when presenting their proposals to community,” said Hannus.

INSPIRATION: Living in many neighborhoods in New York City, Hannus encountered a whole new set of transportation challenges when she moved to Rego Park. “Sandwiched between Woodhaven and Queens Boulevard, I quickly discovered that finding safe bike routes would be very difficult. I found TA because I was looking for people to ride with to help me navigate this confusing and dangerous streetscape.”

Then, after a number of years involved in the advocacy, a friend of Hannus, spurred by the lack of representation of minorities and working cyclists in the advocacy movement, started the idea for a group to address that lack. The Biking Public was created.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Monday: Partly to mostly cloudy. High 39. Winds NW at 10 to 20 mph. Monday Night: A few clouds. Low 24. Winds NNW at 10 to 15 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Holiday Puppet Party Workshop

Children become puppet makers and performers at the Holiday Puppet Party Workshop at the Museum of the Moving Image. In this hour-long workshop kids use simple materials to design their own unique characters, and then take turns performing with them in a short televised puppet show. 2:15 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

De Blasio expected to pick veteran NYC educator Carmen Farina as next chancellor: report

Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio is expected to appoint veteran New York City educator Carmen Farina as the next chancellor of the nation’s largest school system, according to a report. Read more: NBC New York

Bloomberg gives final radio address as New York City mayor

Outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg says serving New Yorkers as mayor for 12 years has been an “honor and privilege.” Read more: AP

Bloomberg spent $650 Million on NYC in 12 Years: report

A new report says Mayor Michael Bloomberg has spent $650 million of his own fortune on New York City over the course of three terms in office.  Read more: NBC New York

3 NYC employees arrested in separate incidents

Three New York City employees were arrested in separate incidents early Sunday. Read more: CBS New York

Justice Sotomayor to helm Times Square ball drop

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor will lend some high-profile help to the countdown to 2014 in Times Square. Read more: NBC New York