Yearly Archives: 2013

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Friday: Sunshine to start, then a few afternoon clouds. High 39. Winds WSW at 10 to 15 mph. Friday night: Some clouds this evening will give way to mainly clear skies overnight. Low 32. Winds WSW at 5 to 10 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: ReMake the Holidays

Build and animate a new version of the holiday season with workshops, demos, artist installations, ice sculpting and a screening of Bag It The Movie at the New York Hall of Science. Friday, December 27- Monday, December 30. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

City incarceration rate drops by more than a third during Bloomberg’s tenure

In his final days in office, Mayor Michael Bloomberg touted a historic drop in crime in the city. Read more: CBS New York

Computer glitch gives some lucky fliers cheap airfare on Delta Air Lines

Christmas came a day late for some quick – and lucky – travelers.Read more: CBS New York/AP

NY minimum wage rising to $8 per hour

New York’s minimum wage will increase to $8 per hour at the end of this year, 75 cents higher than the federal minimum and the old state rate. Read more: NBC New York

De Blasio inauguration tickets sell out quick — then get scalped

It took just two hours for the 1,000 public tickets to Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio’s Jan. 1 inauguration to get snatched up and only a few more minutes before they were being scalped on CraigsList. Read more: New York Post

UPS, FedEx still delivering after pre-Christmas shipping snags

UPS and FedEx are still working in overdrive to deliver packages promised by Christmas that never made it. Read more: AP

Op-ed: Support programs that boost our economy


| oped@queenscourier.com

ASSEMBLYMEMBER NILY ROZIC

One by one, each student marched his way up to the front of the room to receive certificates of completion, each with a sense of accomplishment and hopefulness. One by one, each member of the cohort recounting stories of the past couple of weeks that gave them a second chance.

It was the workforce development initiative of the Queens Botanical Garden and LaGuardia Community College that made these second chances possible.

Unlike some traditional programs that lack strong ties to industry, workforce development programs often accelerate job creation because workers acquire precisely the kind of skills businesses need to expand. Today, examples like those of the Green Jobs Training Program include sustainable landscape design and maintenance, waste management, and other similar green practices.

More recently, the Robin Hood Foundation provided funding to create a workforce development program run by AAFE and One Flushing to recruit and assist those ready to enter the workforce. It is a welcome partnership that will enhance the growth and success of our local Flushing community.

Beyond that New York needs to implement creative ways to retain the talent we have. This year, I sponsored legislation that was signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo making New York a national leader in workforce development and job training. I have also introduced legislation supported by Comptroller-elect Scott Stringer that would continue our economic growth and create quality jobs by investing in our engineering workforce. The financial aid program for engineering students who commit to staying in the city for five years after graduation is a smart investment to bolster an innovation economy and prepare our workforce for the 21st century.

This year’s budget also focused on workforce development and new industries in every community. Cuomo pushed for programs including innovative “Hot Spot” incubators, the Venture Capital Fund, and job linkage initiatives that push our state’s ideas, create new businesses, and train our workforce for jobs of tomorrow.

Queens is one of the most diverse counties in the entire country and it needs a government that can embrace and harness that to power its economic engine. We need to keep creating ways to support programs that boost our economy. The task for our next administration will be to help more of the city’s workforce develop the skills to obtain jobs—and more importantly careers—in sectors that are growing and expanding.

That is what I am determined to champion to do in next year’s legislative session—to be a champion of minority-owned and women-owned small businesses, provide resources to assist local businesses flourish, and forge better partnerships between private and public entities. There has never been a better time to support these pathways and programs that ultimately help our most critical economic resource–our workforce.

Assemblymember Nily Rozic represents New York’s 25th District, which spans the northeast portion of Queens, including the communities of Flushing, Queensboro Hill, Hillcrest, Fresh Meadows, Oakland Gardens, Bayside, and Douglaston.

 

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City officials announce new pay-by-phone parking program


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

File Photo

City residents can soon pay for parking on-the-go, officials said Thursday.

Motorists will be able to pay for parking via cell phone and also online at all 14,000 city parking meters, taking away the need to place paper receipts on dashboards.

The Department of Transportation (DOT), NYPD and Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the new program Dec. 26.

Visitors of Arthur Avenue in the Bronx are the first to trash the receipts. The rest of the city will be on board by early 2015.

“By eliminating the need for coins, credit cards or receipts, pay-by-phone parking has already been a game-changer for drivers in the Bronx,” said Janette Sadik-Khan, DOT Commissioner. “Expanding the system across the borough will now help more New Yorkers dial in for faster, more convenient parking.”

Drivers will be able to pay by downloading a smartphone app or calling a toll-free number and identifying their location by entering the number displayed on muni-meters.

Payment information will be instantly accessible to NYPD traffic enforcement agents.

“Technology is critical to making daily interactions with government simpler and easier,” said NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly. “This innovative program will allow motorists to remotely pay from their mobile devices, and it’s another way we are bringing parking into the 21st century.”

The DOT has additionally tested sensors embedded in parking lanes to deliver information on available parking spaces along Arthur Avenue and is looking to expand that system citywide as well.

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LIC Flea & Food Holiday Market: FLEA you next year


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File Photo

The holidays are shining brighter after three successful weekends at the LIC Flea & Food Holiday Market.

The Holiday Market kicked off the season with a weekend filled with holiday fun, as people shopped for friends and family, while indulging in food from all over the world.

Thousands of visitors, from near and far, came to the Holiday Market, which ran every weekend from Saturday, December 7 to Sunday, December 22, inside the warehouse, located at the corner of 5th Street and 46th Avenue. It is connected to the original lot, where last summer’s outdoor LIC Flea was held.

“I was thrilled that the LIC Flea & Food Holiday Market was such a smashing success,” said Joshua Schneps, LIC Flea & Food president. “It was great to bring the community together and have thousands of people attend.”

Many of LIC Flea’s favorite vendors made a return, along with some fresh new faces, totaling more than 80 unique vendors per day selling antiques, vintage clothing, furniture, gifts, handcrafted items, holographic art, food from all around the world and even fresh-picked Christmas trees from brothers Louis and Harold DeLucia.

Along with the collection of vendors, LIC Flea also presented live music on Sundays by Dandy Wellington and His Band. JIB Lanes also provided a real bowling alley, where visitors tried their hand at bowling the perfect strike. And, for soccer fans, the New York Cosmos also had professional players signing autographs and offering soccer activities.

After all of the different activities, the LIC Flea featured a bar serving beer, wine and holiday cocktails. The unique bar was built specially for the Holiday Market and made of wood from the warehouse.

Filled with the holiday spirit, children also lined up to take pictures with Santa Claus.

The outdoor LIC Flea & Food market will be back in April, at the lot located at the corner of 5th Street and 46th Avenue.

 

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Bloomberg gets ‘#1 Grandpa’ mug at LIC firehouse


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

NYC Mayor's Office's Flickr/Photo by Samantha Modell

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is ready to be the number one grandpa.

A day after his daughter reportedly gave birth to a son on Christmas Eve, the first grandchild for the mayor, Bloomberg visited firefighters of Engine 258/Ladder 115 in Long Island City to thank them for working on Christmas Day.

Bloomberg received a homemade coffee mug with “#1 Grandpa” written on it from the firefighters as a congratulatory gift.

Before stopping by the firehouse, Bloomberg also paid a morning visit to the 108th Precinct in Long Island City to thank the NYPD officers for their work on the holiday. 

 

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Police seek suspect in Flushing restaurant purse theft


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Police are looking for a woman who last month snatched an unattended purse off a chair at a Chinese restaurant in Flushing and fled.

The grand larceny took place at Good Fortune Restaurant, at 46-45 Kissena Boulevard, on Nov. 30 at about noon.

The suspect — described as an Asian woman with long black hair and brown eyes — allegedly took the bag off a chair after a 25-year-old female victim left it behind to go to the bathroom, police said.

The thief walked out of the restaurant and fled in a 2013 black Mercedes Benz, according to authorities.

Officers of the 109th Precinct urge residents to keep their valuables close while shopping and dining and not to leave them unattended, especially in restaurants, cars and shopping carts.

Anyone with information should call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-8477.

 

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DOT, NYPD announce nighttime closure of Queensboro Bridge outer roadway lane to reduce speeding


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ File Photo

A few weeks following the fatal accident of an off-duty police officer off the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge, the Department of Transportation (DOT) and NYPD have implemented a new change looking to increase safety for drivers and pedestrians.

The DOT and NYPD announced on Tuesday the single lane of the Queens-bound outer roadway of the Queensboro Bridge will be closed each day to vehicular traffic from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., starting Monday, Dec. 30.

The nighttime closure hopes to reduce the possibility for speeding and any other dangerous driving at night when the lane is not being used. All traffic capacity on Queens-bound inner and upper roadway lanes will not be affected.

“This upgrade to the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge is just the latest step we’ve taken to keep the more than 180,000 daily drivers crossing safely on one of the city’s most iconic bridges,” said DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.

The daily closure and reopening of the outer roadway lane will be organized by NYPD traffic officers who are already stationed at the bridge to manage the weekday reversal of the two upper roadway Queens-bound lanes.

The closure comes after the DOT conducted a review of current safety measures, traffic volumes and travel speed following the death of 10-year NYPD veteran Elisa Toro, 36,  on December 10.

Toro was heading off the bridge’s exit ramp around 1:50 a.m. when she struck a guardrail, then a cement barrier, said police. The car then flipped onto its passenger side, hitting a vacant storefront on Queens Plaza South at Crescent Street  in Long Island City. Toro, a Bronx resident, was pronounced dead at the scene. No one else was injured in the accident, said police.

“I applaud the DOT for finally giving this dangerous stretch of road the attention it deserves,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris who asked the DOT to improve traffic safety in the area and redesign the bridge’s exit ramp, after a series of accidents in 2011. “Hopefully, the nighttime closure of the Queens-bound outer roadway will provide the time for a proper evaluation of the street design coming off the Queensboro Bridge exit ramp so we can eventually solve this problem once and for all.”

According to the DOT, the outer-roadway closure joins other traffic measures installed by the Queens Plaza South exit ramp since 2011. The traffic measures include three 20 mph messages, “shark teeth” markings on the road, 14 yellow and 12 white 36”-by-8” aluminum-backed reflectors, four sets of rumble strips warning drivers they are approaching a reduced speed zone, and much more. Throughout the day, the agency plans to continue monitoring traffic volumes, safety measures and driving conditions on the bridge. 

 

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Lighting up the Hell Gate


| letters@queenscourier.com

In the “bad” old days, people would drive to Shore Boulevard in Astoria Park, and instead of seeing the beautiful skyline that we enjoy today, would be invariably drawn to the 13 story, at its track base, behemoth full of graffiti that was the base of the Hell Gate Bridge, and the whole experience was ruined.  The talk would invariably start of crime and dirt and filthy New York.  No visitor could get past the thousands of graffiti tags and the locals had become inured and desensitized to it.

In 1992, the New York Anti Crime Agency, with the help of the US Marine Corps RSNY, managed to change all that.   On one very busy day in the spring of that year, over 100 NYAC volunteers, Marines and Police Officers cleaned 250 stores in Astoria/LIC and wound up painting the whole base of the Hell Gate Bridge clean of graffiti. Thousands of square feet were finally cleaned and for the last 21 years, alongside the NYC Parks Department, and with the blessing of Amtrak, NYAC has cleaned and maintained all the base bridge columns from Shore Boulevard to Steinway Street.

Over two decades, there have been hundreds of cleanups, thousands of locations cleaned and dozens of murals painted. Nowadays, very few people remember any of that mess and just remember/recognize the beauty that is Astoria Park, the view that encompasses the East River and Manhattan and the majestic bridges that are the Triboro and the Hell Gate and the unique attractiveness of the whole scene.

Still, this beautiful, historic bridge lacks lighting.

There are three main reasons this needs to be remedied:

 *Safety is foremost, in even light mist or fog the bridge is basically invisible, there are only three little lights for the whole massive span and that’s ridiculous.

Historical significance: our city and neighborhood have a unique historical jewel in our midst, neglected for decades. Why not make it a visual gem also, especially in time for its 100th anniversary in 2016?

*Community Pride.  This bridge needs to be lit up and become a focal point of the skyline of New York, like so many other iconic structures of our city.

This would not cost a lot and would not even involve any land use or architectural issues.  NYAC would work together with many neighborhood organizations such as the Astoria Historical Society, Central Astoria and Parks groups.

We want our Congressional reps, Carolyn Maloney and Joseph Crowley, to help us make this a reality. Involve local people and media in a design competition to see what the best design should be. The bridge’s time as a forgotten stepchild can’t be over too soon.

Let us know what you think, please contact the New York Anti Crime Agency by email at Meloni25@iasny.org.

 

 

Antonio Meloni,

Director, New York Anti Crime

A question of wealth


| letters@queenscourier.com

Our leaders, with their laws, regulations, and executive orders mandating the “greater good” are dismantling the Constitution and nullifying the Bill of Rights.

Successful, wealthy persons are labeled greedy “one percenters;” “rich” is equated with evil, and the term “individualist” has become synonymous with “sociopath” or selfish. An overzealous compassion has created burgeoning unsustainable entitlements that make no distinction between “needs” and “wants.”

We measure the success of welfare programs by the number of people who are added and not by how many drop out and become self reliant. Programs that were instituted to conditionally aid and support families in times of crisis have become “entitlements” and have been expanded to guarantee recipients an ample satisfying life style. Dependency is nurtured, which is why signs in wildlife preserves remind us not to feed the animals.

In this day and age, it is acceptable and even fashionable to demand confiscatory taxation and expropriation of wealth to support the lifestyles of the “99 percenters” in the name of “fairness.” The IRS claims the top 10 percent of earners are not paying a “fair share,” when in reality they account for 70 percent of the revenue collected. How much more should these people pay to accommodate the new paradigm of “fairness?”

Voices around the world, among them the International Monetary Fund, are calling for higher taxes on the wealthy. The IMF calculates that the revenue-maximizing tax rate for the United States is 56 to 71 percent, way above the present 45 percent top rate for federal, state and local taxes combined. Will someone with an ounce of integrity please explain and clarify which international law authorizes confiscation of private wealth?

Denials and intellectual dishonesty cannot obfuscate the assault on the Constitution. No amount of government redistribution can overcome the ultimate poverty of spirit.

Ed Konecnik  

Flushing

Sports Star: Michael Maldonado, shooting guard, Aviation HS basketball team


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Name: Michael Maldonado

School: Aviation Career & Technical Education High School

Grade: Senior

Sport: Basketball

Position: Team captain, shooting guard

Michael Maldonado is the captain and leading scorer of the Aviation High School boys basketball team (PSAL Queens-A West). He has an 84 percent grade average and is also on the ROTC at the school. He has done numerous forms of community service including breast cancers walks and events to fight juvenile diabetes. He is also a member of the school’s cross country track team. In a recent game against William C. Bryant High School on Dec. 19, Maldonado scored 29 points, 5 assists and 6 rebounds to lead his team to victory, 69-67. He is averaging 18.33 points and 5 rebounds per game in five games this season.

Why did you start playing basketball?

“I grew up in Jamaica, Queens. It’s a rough neighborhood, basketball was a way to make friends.”

What colleges are you thinking about attending next year?

St. John’s University, the University of Buffalo, St. Louis University, Air Force Academy or The United States Military Academy at West Point.”

Why do you like doing community service?

“Helping other people feels great. It betters everybody.”

What would be your dream job?

“Playing for the Puerto Rican national basketball team. I would like to represent Hispanic basketball players. It would be an honor, that’s the way I look at it.”

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Thursday: Cloudy with a chance of snow flurries. High of 40. Winds N at 3 mph. Thursday night: Clear to partly cloudy. Low of 30.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Holiday Open House at the Queens County Farm Museum

Tour the historic Adriance Farmhouse, learn about the county’s agricultural and colonial history, and enjoy holiday crafts and mulled cider. Free. Thursday, December 26-Saturday, December 28, from 12 to 4 p.m. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Modern day Robin Hood gives to the poor on Christmas

He’s famous for robbing from the rich and giving to the poor… He is known as Robin Hood. And in real life, this modern day hero wears a black hat and aviator sunglasses. Read more: Fox New York 

Hit-Run driver Kills Man, 29, Crossing Queens Street

Police are looking for the driver who struck and killed a 29-year-old man as he tried to cross a Queens street early Wednesday. Read more: NBC New York 

Christmas hit-and-run drivers kill 1 in Queens, seriously injure another in Brooklyn

Two heartless drivers struck pedestrians and fled on Christmas Day, killing one man and seriously injuring another, cops said. Read more: New York Daily News

Healthcare.gov site put to test as deadline passes

The deadline for signing up health insurance under President Barack Obama’s health care law has passed, but there are still things consumers should do. Read more: ABC 

Elmhurst man killed in Christmas morning hit-and-run


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

A man died early Wednesday morning after a car struck him in East Elmhurst before fleeing, police said.

Enrique Clemente-Ovando, 29, of Elmhurst, was crossing Astoria Boulevard, near 103rd Street, about 4:30 a.m., when the vehicle hit him, according to the NYPD.

Clemente-Ovando was taken to Elmhurst Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The car, which did not remain at the accident scene, may be a beige Toyota Camry with a Pennsylvania registration, police said.

The investigation is ongoing.

 

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JFK’s Terminal 4 adds more retail options


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

More shops are landing at John F. Kennedy International (JFK) Airport’s Terminal 4.

JFKIAT, the management company which operates Terminal 4 announced Monday the opening of three new retail shops, and five additional stores that are scheduled to open in January.

The newly opened stores include Victoria’s Secret, accessories store Bijoux Terner and Bluewire electronics. Opening next month are Michael Kors, Chocolates & More, Time to Fly, which sells a wide variety of Swatch watches and accessories, Metropolitan Museum of Art, which features art-related accessories and unique gifts in conjunction with the Manhattan museum, and Hudson, an upscale, high-tech travel store.

Other recent store openings at the terminal include Solstice, Jo Malone, Kiehl’s, MAC, Coach, Thomas Pink, and an all-new, expanded Duty Free Shop in the center of the retail hall. More retail openings are planned throughout next year.

JFK’s Terminal 4 also has some choice dining options, such as Blue Smoke and the popular burger chain Shake Shack, which opened at the airport this spring.

The terminal currently serves 30 international and domestic airlines with an annual passenger volume of more than 13 million travelers, according to JFKIAT.

Home to anchor tenant Delta, Terminal 4 completed phase one of its expansion in May 2013. Phase two, which will add additional gates on the B Concourse, is expected to be completed in 2015, according to JFKIAT.

“The redevelopment of Terminal 4 to make Delta our anchor tenant has resulted in benefits for all of our airline partners and their travelers. The all-new food and beverage and concession programs have been a great success and brought name brands that help the JFKIAT team fulfill its mission, to continue to improve the customer experience. We look forward to working with all of our retail partners to see even more exciting steps for the terminal in 2014,” said Alain Maca, president of JFKIAT.

 

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Cops honored for Ridgewood pot bust


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

On Tuesday, December 17, the 104th Precinct Council honored seven officers, who were all helpful during a marijuana bust in Ridgewood in October.

The officers found 580 pot plants, which had the potential to be worth millions.

 

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De Blasio’s daughter admits to issues with substance abuse, depression


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Screenshot via YouTube

Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio’s daughter Chiara admitted in a video posted Tuesday to substance abuse and years of battling depression.

In the five-minute YouTube clip, the 19-year-old college student said she had clinical depression for her entire adolescence, and alcohol and drugs helped her deal with those issues.

“It made it easier, like the more I drank and did drugs, to share some common ground with people that I wouldn’t have,” she said.

“It didn’t start out as a like a huge thing for me, but then it became a really huge thing for me.”

She said she thought her problems would go away in college, but admitted to drinking and smoking weed while there.

A therapist helped her by referring to her an outpatient treatment center in New York City.

Now sober, Chiara said she wanted to share her personal story in the hopes of helping others.

“As parents, our instinct has been to protect our daughter and privately help her through a deeply personal struggle. But not only has Chiara committed to her own health, she is also committed to helping young people everywhere who face similar challenges,” the mayor-elect and his wife said in an emailed statement that linked to the video.

“Her courage to speak out demonstrates a wisdom and maturity far beyond her 19 years, and we are grateful every day for her commitment to lifting up those who need to know that they are not alone.”

 

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