Tag Archives: 9/11

Op-ed: Never forget those who sacrificed in the 9/11 recovery


| oped@queenscourier.com

File photo

BY ED HORN

It is shameful that so many Americans demand closure from the 9/11 attacks believing it is time to “get past it,” yet the deaths caused by the attack increase every day.

Americans are proud to recall the heroics of the Greatest Generation and their sacrifices. On Memorial Day, we wave the flag. We are enraged when anyone has the audacity of setting fire to our flag. We are quick to threaten war when we feel threatened, insulted or are dismissed. We arrange displays at the sites of tragedies. Tears fall and hugs are exchanged believing that the moment will address the losses that will continue to the harm of families for generations.

We share the sadness and loss of those who gather at the World Trade Center site every September 11. Those who were blessed not to have sustained a death pause for a moment and move on without another consideration.

Other memorials and dedications, however, have fewer and fewer people attending, leaving only the stricken to recall those who died saving others or those who cleaned up the rubble left behind. Congress continues to debate funding health care for those made ill by the pile.

St. Michael’s Cemetery will not forget those who sacrificed in the days after 9/11. On Sept. 12, St. Michael’s, with the support of the Christopher Santora Scholarship Fund and the community mayors, will hold the annual Remember Me Run honoring the first responders who saved thousands offering their lives in exchange. We will also memorialize 19 first responders who recently died from illnesses related to their work at Ground Zero.

I wonder who will find the time or the respect to attend.

This is the list of deceased FDNY members we plan to add to the World Trade Center Memorial Wall this September:

Firefighter Joseph T. Callahan, Engine Co. 245, died on Oct. 1, 2005;
Battalion Chief Richard E. McGuire, Battalion 51, died on Dec. 9, 2012;
EMT Luis de Peña, EMS Station 13, died on Nov. 7, 2013;
EMS Lt. Michael F. Cavanagh, EMS Station 16, died on Dec. 2, 2013;
Deputy Chief Inspector James W. Mandelkow, Bureau of Fire Prevention, died on Dec. 10, 2013;
Fire Lt. John J. Halpin, Ladder Co. 33, died on May 29, 2014;
EMS Capt. William C. Olsen, EMS Station 23, died on June 1, 2014;
Fire Lt. Keith M. Loughlin, Ladder Co. 109, died on July 31, 2014;
Fire Lt. John K. Gremse, Engine Co. 302, died on Sept. 16, 2014;
Fire Lt. Howard J. Bischoff, Ladder Co. 149, died on Sept. 22, 2014;
Firefighter Daniel E. Heglund, Rescue 4, died on Sept. 22, 2014;
Firefighter Robert E. Leaver, Division 3, died on Sept. 22, 2014;
Firefighter Cornell L. Horne, Ladder Co. 176, died on Oct. 5, 2014;
EMS Lt. Thomas Giammarino, EMS Station 31, died on Oct. 7, 2014;
Firefighter Eugene J. McCarey, Ladder Co. 36, died on Nov. 13, 2014;
Firefighter James J. Marshall, Ladder Co. 78, died on Nov. 30, 2014;
Firefighter Charles S. Szoke, Ladder Co. 21, died on Dec. 1, 2014;
Battalion Chief John J. Cassidy, Battalion 40, died on Jan. 21, 2015; and
Fire Capt. John R. Graziano, Ladder Co. 78, died on March 13, 2015.

Ed Horn is president of St. Michael’s Cemetery in East Elmhurst.

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Man arrested after threatening to ‘kill a lot of people’ with bombs at JFK: DA


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

A 64-year-old Manhattan resident is behind bars after he called in nearly a dozen bomb threats to JFK Airport this month, stating that he wanted to “kill a lot of people,” including police officers, prosecutors announced Monday.

Philip Ngom, 64, of West 116th Street, was arraigned Saturday on 11 counts each of first-degree falsely reporting an incident and making a terroristic threat.

Ngom allegedly called 911 eleven times between June 9 and 24, sometimes more than once per day, and making a bomb threat, according to District Attorney Richard Brown. He reportedly threatened to plant chemical bombs and/or explosives containing nails at the south Queens airport.

On June 17, Ngom phoned 911 around 7 a.m., claiming he had three chemical bombs in his BMW and threatened to drive his car to JFK, saying that “I am going to kill a lot of people at the airport today. It’s a pleasure to kill,”  the district attorney said. About an hour later, he made another call, stating, “Muslims are on their way to place a bomb at JFK today.”

During another call to 911, on June 21, he allegedly said that it was his mission to kill police officers and told the operator that “I have a naked police officer in the basement….I am going to kill a lot of officers tonight. I have three bombs I want to place at JFK Airport.”

Ngom is currently being held on $750,000 bail and faces up to seven years in prison.

“This individual’s alleged actions not only caused undue alarm and disruption to thousands of air travelers, but resulted in extensive police resources being wasted to investigate phony threats,” said Port Authority Chief Security Officer Belfiore. “Through the painstaking work of our PAPD detectives, we were able to track him down and will see that he is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

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Op-ed: End critical delays in EMS response time


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

The need for our EMS to be unparalleled here in New York City is increasingly great. As a city, we must make critical policy changes that will decrease response time and save lives. This February, the average response time to life-threatening medical emergencies in Queens was 10 minutes and 15 seconds, which is not acceptable.

The City Council passed a law that would track end-to-end response times for both fire and medical emergencies, and further require the FDNY to report that response time. New Yorkers need to know the truth. This involves recording not only the time it took for an emergency unit to be dispatched, but also the time it took to process the call.

The law was named for Ariel Russo who was tragically killed when she was struck by a reckless driver trying to evade the police. After the crash, there was a clear error in dispatching an EMS unit and emergency personnel lost at least four critical minutes. The “Ariel Russo Emergency 9-1-1 Response Time Reporting Act” now provides a more transparent record of response times.

Last year, two young siblings, Ayina and Jai’Launi Tinglin, were killed in a Far Rockaway fire. EMS personnel did not reach the scene until 20 minutes after the call was received. The city found that personnel errors preceding the dispatch caused delays in reaching the children, but we see this as only half of the truth. Reports from dangerous, deadly fires have shown that the FDNY only dispatches ambulances after an FDNY unit on the scene confirms it is a structural fire. In this case, had the need for EMS to wait not existed, they could have been dispatched more than six minutes earlier. A lack of resources is likely the main reason the FDNY delays the EMS dispatch.

We believe the FDNY must dispatch EMS units once the report of a structural fire comes in through 9-1-1 and make it part of the many units dispatched within a first-alarm fire.
The FDNY again wasted critical time by waiting to dispatch EMS during a structural fire in Midwood. The fire killed seven children in the Sassoon family: David, Yehoshua, Moshe, Yaakov, Eliane, Rivka and Sarah. It took nearly 14 minutes for EMS to get to the scene.

We write this op-ed to call on the fire department to make three critical policy changes that would reduce response times and improve the level of pre-hospital care.

First, the fire department must change its dispatch policy and immediately send an ambulance upon receipt of a 9-1-1 call reporting a structural fire as part of a “first-alarm.”
Second, we need to greatly expand the number of department ambulance tours. This is the surest way to reduce response times, and the additional tours managed correctly will not only save lives but could also generate revenue for the city.

Lastly, in order to increase department professionalism, promotional civil service exams must be instituted for upper-ranking officers, just like those for the fire department’s firefighters and other public safety agencies. This would also bring the city into compliance with federal and state guidelines to ensure emergency scenes are properly and efficiently handled.

Our EMS personnel work every day to keep us alive, and for that they deserve not only our unconditional gratitude but effective procedures to abide by. Let’s make our EMS stronger for today and always.

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9/11 memorial poster of Jackson Heights firefighter torn down; fiancée ‘hurt’


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Every year, on the anniversary of 9/11, Tanya Villanueva Tepper hangs a brand-new poster on a tree in Jackson Heights in memory of her fiancé Sergio Villanueva, a firefighter who perished during the terrorist attack.

Normally, the poster remains affixed to the tree until Tepper replaces it.

But this year, she had to replace it early as it was torn down from its spot in the beginning of October.

“I don’t know or understand why people would do that,” said Tepper. “It hurts my heart.”

Tepper decided to hang the poster in front of the gift shop Inner Peace, located at 79-24 37th Ave., which she once owned with Villanueva, because she wanted people to remember the 33-year-old firefighter as a person and not just a name.

The poster, filled with pictures of Villanueva and his family along with a few words describing the type of man he was, was tied down with rope and string to prevent it being dislodged by strong winds.

But the poster was apparently torn down once several years ago and again last month.

“I’ve never heard any backlash from the community,” said Tepper. “I just want to ask the person who is doing it, ‘Does it make you uncomfortable?’”

Sergio's Poster 2014

Poster courtesy of Tanya Villanueva Tepper

The current owner of the store, Marisol Dittmer, who was also a close friend of Villanueva, said she welcomes the poster and loves having Tepper come and put it up.

“I don’t understand why someone would do this,” Dittmer said. “He was such a great man, always loving, and this poster is meant to show that.”

In front of the tree, there is also a plaque dedicated to Villanueva. Hanging the poster there made it a “little sanctuary” for Tepper during the tender times of the anniversary.
“Life goes by so fast sometimes,” Tepper said. “I want people to see this poster and plaque and just slow down and think about life and how special it is.”

Even though it was taken down, Tepper did not hesitate to replace the poster. Over the weekend, she hung it up to keep Sergio’s memory alive.

She said that she just hopes this would be the last time she would have to replace it until next year on the anniversary.

“I have no malice when putting the poster up, but it’s all malice when they rip it down,” Tepper said. “I just want people to walk by it and realize how precious life is and that the best life you can live is being the best person you can be for others.”

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Op-ed: Two catastrophic events, one Queens community


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

BY STATE SENATOR JOSEPH P. ADDABBO JR.

In the moments and months following Superstorm Sandy, I saw struggles and emotions of all types. I saw people wading through the floodwaters carrying every possession they could, I saw men and women piling their useless furniture, appliances, children’s toys and personal photos onto the curbs outside their damaged homes. I also saw the expressions of anxiety, grief and loss on the faces of every affected individual.

My district was crippled, to put it mildly. For me, the last time I remember seeing an event take such a disturbing toll on people, the last time people were so emotionally drained, was on Sept. 11, 2001.

Within the communities I represent, someone had lost someone in 9/11, gotten battered with Hurricane Irene and now may have lost their home during Sandy. It’s hit after hit, which are out of our control. But through it all, our resilience continues to shine.

And now, on the 13th anniversary of 9/11 and the two-year anniversary of Sandy on Oct. 29, as we remember the crises from our past, it reminds us it’s now more important than ever to work together for our future.

The city rebuilding program Build it Back has reimbursed and assisted a number of people. While I am grateful for their efforts, we know that its work is far from over.

Build it Back aid is doing more than just reimbursing storm victims; it’s giving back some stability and reassurance to people’s lives. Time and time again, I heard about my constituents spending their life savings, their kids’ college funds or their retirement money on replacing what Sandy took from them. Build it Back has the opportunity to restore these people’s lives and make the memory of the superstorm less of a nightmare. That is why it is so important as an elected official to work through the Build It Back process in quickly addressing the needs of Sandy victims.

After 9/11, our Queens community lost not their homes but their neighbors, their friends, their family. Memories like that will never fade, never change, but the support from the community never wavered. Thirteen years later, that continues to hold true. Most individuals take time around 9/11 to honor those who died, thank those who saved others and remember the tragic event as one way to understand the need to support our military in the fight against the evil and hatred of terrorism.

Tragic events such as Sandy and 9/11 remind us that we know how to band together to support each other when a situation arises. For many, the word ‘resilient’ is not just found in the dictionary, but has become a lifestyle.

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Queens pols remember 9/11 during 13th anniversary


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/@TonyAvella

BY ASHA MAHADEVAN

Queens marked the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks across the borough on Thursday.

State Sen.Tony Avella, fresh off his victory in the primary, joined the 109th Precinct at the 9/11 Park Dedication ceremony in the morning to honor the lives lost 13 years ago. After the ceremony, he embarked on his annual motorcade, visiting the streets in his district which have been renamed after those who died that day. He hung wreaths on the poles of 26 streets that bear the names of the fallen.

Paul Vallone, councilman for Bayside, Whitestone, Auburndale, College Point, Little Neck, Douglaston, and North Flushing, observed the 9/11 anniversary with students at P.S.169 and Bell Academy

Assemblywoman Nily Rozic attended the remembrance ceremony at Queens College. The ceremony honored alum Mohammad Salman Hamdani, who died on 9/11, but was falsely implicated as a terrorist.

Rozic is expected to also attend the candlelight vigil at 7 p.m. in Bayside Hills

U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley released a statement in which he said that every detail of that day is etched in our collective memories.

“But just as vivid are the memories of all those we lost – mothers, fathers, children, friends, and complete strangers whom we, as a nation, grieved for as if they were family,” he said. These memories make today “a bit more manageable” and we should “honor our service members who continue to protect our nation.”

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman stated that “we continue to feel the ache of such a swift and immeasurable loss” but while we mourn the dead, “an attack meant to shatter us instead brought out the great hope and resilience within all New Yorkers and all Americans” and on this day, we should “recommit to our work toward a more secure future.”

State Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. called upon the people to not only remember the first responders and uniformed personnel in the city but to also “support our military who remain vigilant in the fight against the evil and hatred of terrorists.”

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9/11 heroes battle cancer with hope


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Asha Mahadevan

BY ASHA MAHADEVAN

Thirteen years ago, when tragedy struck the World Trade Center, they were one of the first to respond to calls for help. Today, they are suffering the after-effects of their selflessness.

Two days before the anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, four Queens residents, who developed cancer because of their exposure to carcinogenic substances at the WTC site, came forward to share their pain at the North Shore – LIJ’s WTC Clinical Center of Excellence at Rego Park on Tuesday, Sept. 9.

John Licato, 52, a resident of Howard Beach and a former cop with the 110th Precinct in Corona, was diagnosed with neck cancer in 2012. Since then he has undergone chemotherapy and radiation and now, his cancer is in remission. Christian Foggy, 67, an electrician from Jamaica who transported generators to the site for almost two months, was treated for prostate cancer.

Former narcotics cop Joe Ramondino, 52, developed Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. “They said it was safe,” said the Maspeth resident about concerns that arose in the aftermath. Last August, he was told he is dealing with a type of cancer he calls “treatable but not curable.”

“It is devastating learning what is in your body,” he said. “I am just staying positive and following a healthy lifestyle.”

Added his wife Toni, “It was frightening. We are sticking together and getting through.”
The program at the WTC Clinical Center is federally funded by the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which is meant for treating the people who fell sick due to exposure to harmful materials at ground zero. The funding runs through 2016. Initially, the people being treated were those with respiratory disorders such as asthma and sinus cases, and mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder. However, cancer takes many years to develop, said Dr. Jacqueline Moline, vice president and chair of Population Health at North Shore-LIJ. “We have more than 2,500 certified cases,” she said. “Truncating the program after 15 years is not right.”

Patricia Workman, 76, and her sister Julia Mooney, both from Flushing, helped at the site as Red Cross volunteers. “I worked in the pit, in the morgue, served meals, distributed supplies, whatever needed to be done,” said Workman. She was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2008. She was treated and went into remission but suffered a relapse earlier this year. Despite her trauma, she says she doesn’t regret helping out the way she did. “It was a terrible day,” she said. “We should not forget it because if you do, it can happen again.”

Mooney, who suffered from PTSD due to her time at the site, added, “These people [who died that day] deserve to be remembered always.”

Despite their pain, the patients and their families are staying positive. As Ramondino put it, “Things could have been worse. Lots of people died that day. We are still here.”

“I have three children and three grandchildren,” said Workman. “I have a lot to live for.”

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9/11 anniversary events around Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Astoria Heights

The United Community Civic Association’s 9/11 Memorial Candlelight Ceremony will take place on Sept. 10 from 7:30 p.m. at McManus Memorial Park, on 81st Street and the Grand Central Parkway service road.

Flushing

St. Mel’s Catholic Academy’s Parent Academy Association is organizing a Memorial Mass on Thursday, Sept. 11, at 1 p.m. After Mass, students will release bubbles in the schoolyard in memory of the 9/11 martyrs. 154-24 26 Ave.

The Queens Historical Society is observing the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks with a community conversation for children and their family members. The discussion will be led by Karyn Balan, who will guide the attendees through Jeanette Winter’s book “September Roses”. The book tells the story of two sisters from South Africa who are stranded in the city with the 2,400 roses that they had flown in on the day of the attacks for a flower show. The event begins at 1 p.m. and is free for children and the adults accompanying them. Kingsland Homestead, 143-35 37th Ave.

Sunnyside

A remembrance ceremony will be held on Thursday, Sept. 11 from 6:30 p.m. at the Doughboy Park. The ceremony will include a candlelight vigil and poetry readings. Corner of 56th Street and Woodside Avenue.

Bayside

The Bayside Hills Civic Association will be holding its annual 9/11 observance on Thursday, Sept. 11 at 7 p.m. at Bell Boulevard and Horace Harding Expressway.

Middle Village

The 13th Annual Candlelight Vigil will take place at the 9/11 Memorial at Juniper Valley Park (near 78th Street.) from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m on Thursday, Sept. 11. Attendees are advised to bring a candle and a chair.

East Elmhurst

The third annual two-mile Remember Me Run will take place at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 13 at St. Michael’s Cemetery, located at 7202 Astoria Blvd. Sign-in will begin starting at 10 a.m. Registration fee $25. After the run, a memorial service will be held.

Kew Gardens

The Annual Day of Remembrance and the Lantern Festival will take place on Thursday, Sept. 18 from 6 p.m. at the Maple Grove Cemetery and Lakeside. 127-15 Kew Gardens Road.

LIC museum showcases extensive history of elevators


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

Something is going down in Long Island City.

For the past three years the neighborhood has been home to The Elevator Historical Society, also known as the Elevator Museum, on the second floor of the bright yellow taxi building at 43-39 21st St.


Photo by Patrick Carrajat

The museum was started by Patrick Carrajat, 70, who has been active in the elevator business since he was 11 years old and went to work with his father every weekend.

“What 11-year-old boy doesn’t want to go to work with his father?” Carrajat said.

Since then Carrajat, who lives in Long Island City with his wife, has worked throughout the elevator business, owning his own company at one point, and is now an elevator consultant and expert witness.

After realizing that his own personal elevator collection was getting too large, he decided to find a place to begin the museum.

Among the items at the site are those he has collected for years, including what he calls his favorite piece – a cover of an interlock that he brought home the first day working with his father in 1955 – and items he buys on eBay as well as some donations.

“The museum came about because I had no place to put all of this stuff and I thought it would be a good idea to give stuff back to the industry,” he said. “I owe a lot to the industry. It’s a pay-it-forward type of situation.”

Before starting the museum, Carrajat also wrote a book called “History of the American Elevator,” which he says came out of a “near death experience” after he was scheduled to be on the 79th floor machine room of the North Tower on 9/11, but took the day off.

He said what intrigues him the most are the social and economic implications and importance of elevators to our everyday lives.

“If we didn’t have the elevator, New York City would stretch from north of Boston to south of Washington D.C. It would be five- or six-story buildings, that’s all it would be,” he said. “There is also so much interaction that can happen in an elevator. There’s a certain closeness in an elevator, you can’t avoid it. Our personal space gets invaded in elevators all the time.”

Carrajat says the museum welcomes, with no charge, about 500 visitors per year. He hopes the visitors, who to his surprise are mainly made up of “non-elevator people,” leave with a little better appreciation of the history and hopefully pass along to other people “that there are interesting small museums.”

In the end, Carrajat said the plan is for all the items in his collection to go to Elevator World, Inc., the publisher for the international building transportation industry, in Alabama.

“I fell in love with the business and wiser people have said, ‘If you love what you do, you don’t work a day in your life.’ I’m still waiting to go to work,” Carrajat said. “I think it’s a great thing to say at 70 that you love what you do and you keep doing it.”

Although people can stop by the museum, Carrajat recommends potential visitors call in advance just to make sure he is in. For more information visit www.elevatorhistory.org or call 917-748-2328.

 

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Looking into the artwork of LIC artist Luba Lukova


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Aeroblue © Luba Lukova


What was only supposed to be a one-week visit to New York for an international exhibition has turned into about 25 years of success for Long Island City artist Luba Lukova.

As a young girl in Bulgaria, Lukova never had a doubt as to what she wanted to be when she grew up. Influenced by her grandmother who was an artist, Lukova began to attend art classes and then graduated from an art academy.

Through an invite from Colorado State University, where school officials had seen some of her early artwork, Lukova came to New York for an organized exhibition featuring artists from all over the world.

Her initial idea was to stay in New York for a week and then return to Bulgaria, but she decided to stay indefinitely, and in 1991, she began drawing illustrations for the book review section of The New York Times. She then moved on and drew for the publication’s Op-Ed section covering subjects such as the Middle East.

These illustrations opened up doors for Lukova, exposing her to a larger audience, which got her into theatre work creating posters, and years later she even got a call from then-presidential candidate Barack Obama’s campaign to use one of her images months before his inauguration.

“It was just a miracle. I never went back [to Bulgaria],” she said. “For a young artist, it was a mind-blowing experience and when I saw the reaction of the people, it was really very exciting for me.”

Lukova’s pieces, whether they are on a canvas or theatre poster, all convey social and political issues in what she calls a “simple and accessible way.” She tells a whole story with just a few colors and images and creates visual metaphors for viewers to take in.

“[My artwork] involves thinking and the viewer’s participation,” she said. “All of my work is like that — it’s always provoking stuff. I try to make it accessible and bring something to the contemporary viewer that can stop them and make them think.”

Her “Social Justice” poster portfolio, the first publication from her own publishing company, has gotten her national and international acclaim. Currently some of her work is part of a show at the Museum of Modern Art and Denver Art Museum.

After moving out of Manhattan following 9/11, Lukova has been working and living in the booming art scene found in Long Island City. Last year she took part in the LIC Arts Open festival, which introduced her to a community she has now become a part of and loves.

“I think it’s a great group of artists with a lot of energy,” she said. “The art community here is growing and it is so huge.”

This year Lukova designed the poster for the LIC Arts Open, and her exhibition “Drama on Paper: Posters for the Stage” can be found at The Local at 13-02 44th Ave. throughout the festival.


     LIC ARTS OPEN POSTER © Luba Lukova

“I’m excited to be a part of it again,” Lukova said. “I think what [the festival organizers] do is very admirable and I hope we will keep the community here and we will expand. Because New York without the arts would be a very sad picture. We don’t just want New York to be the city with museums; we need the real art here.”

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Wednesday: Sunshine and a few clouds. High 67. Winds WNW at 10 to 15 mph. Wednesday night: Cloudy skies early, then off and on rain showers overnight. Low 52. Winds S at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 40%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Citizens’ Climate Lobby

The Queens-Nassau chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby will hold its monthly meeting at 6: 30 p.m. at Panera Bread in the Bay Terrace Shopping Center. Join us and help create the political will for a stable climate. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Knockdown center denied liquor license

The Knockdown Center took a straight right to the chin courtesy of the State Liquor Authority (SLA). The SLA denied the Maspeth arts center’s license application at a full board hearing Tuesday. Read more: The Queens Courier

After hour-long debate, New York Senate passes bill to make yogurt state snack

The New York senate passed a bill that would make yogurt the state’s official snack, but not without a surprisingly spirited debate Tuesday evening. Read more: NBC New York

Pedestrian fatalities in city decreased by one-third during first four months of 2014

The number of pedestrians hit and killed by cars dropped by a third in the first four months of 2014, data obtained by the Daily News show. Read more: New York Daily News

Federal report: climate change is upon us

Climate change is a very real problem, according to a new federal report called the National Climate Assessment. Read more: CBS New York/AP

Unidentified 9/11 remains to be moved back to Ground Zero

The unidentified remains of those killed at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 are set to be moved to a repository at ground zero this weekend, renewing a more than decade-long debate among grieving family members about the best final resting place for their loved ones. Read more: AP

 

Bayside police cadet who died on 9/11 honored with street co-naming


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Follow me @liamlaguerre

 

When 23-year-old Muslim American Salman Hamdani, who was an NYPD cadet and EMT, heard about the 9/11 attacks, instead of going to work, he headed straight for the World Trade Center.

He lost his life trying to help people and for his sacrifice, Community Board 11 and Councilman Paul Vallone honored him by co-naming 204th Street in Bayside, where he grew up, as “Salman Hamdani Way” on Monday.

But his mother, Talat, believes it’s just the first step toward getting the recognition her son deserves after the injustice he received.

Hamdani, who was born in Pakistan and immigrated to America as a toddler, was initially thought to be involved in the attacks, and still hasn’t been honored as a first responder on the 9/11 memorial.

“The City of New York needs to recognize him officially as a cadet when 9/11 happened, when he gave the ultimate sacrifice,” Talat said. “And the national 9/11 memorial cannot deny him his due place in history.”

Photo courtesy Talat Hamdani 

Instead of being listed as a first responder, Hamdani’s name is on the memorial as a civilian killed in the attacks. His family believes this bias stems from his faith, but they insist he was an American in every way.

As a child, Hamdani watched cartoons on the Disney Channel, loved the Yankees, played football for Bayside High School, and was a truly dedicated Star Wars fan— so much so that “his licenses plate read, ‘young Jedi,’” Talat said.

“I asked him one day, what is Star Wars?” she recalled, and he replied, “Momma, you don’t know what Star Wars is, you’re not an American!”

Hamdani’s  family is calling for Mayor Bill de Blasio to put his name on the first responders list to honor his memory.

“The fact is that he was a cadet,” Talat said. “He should be properly acknowledged.”

Photo courtesy Luigi Novi/Wikipedia Commons

 

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110th Precinct shaves hair, raises funds for fellow officer


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

Lieutenant Patrick Welsh did not have to think twice when deciding to shave his long curls for fellow officer and friend, Sergeant Paul Ferrara.

Welsh, together with five other members of the 110th Precinct, including commanding officer Deputy Inspector Ronald D. Leyson, volunteered Thursday to shave their hair for Ferrara, who was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in January.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE PHOTOS,

“It’s all for a great cause , for Paul, for a fellow brother,” said Welsh, who has been growing his hair out since last September. “It wasn’t even a question, [Ferrara] is one of the most liked men in the precinct.”

Ferrara started his career in Brooklyn’s 81st Precinct in 1992 and then was promoted to sergeant in 2006 and assigned to the 110th Precinct. During his 22 years of service, Ferrera has been a 9/11 first responder and former anti-crime sergeant, and now serves as a counter terrorism supervising officer.

Ferrara’s diagnosis is currently being linked to what he, together with other first responders, faced at Ground Zero in 2001.

The 110th Precinct came together last month to start a fundraiser to collect money to help the 44-year-old NYPD officer and his family with medical expenses. Ferrara is married and has a 12-year-old son.

As part of the fundraiser, officers at the precinct, which encompasses Corona and Elmhurst, came up with the idea to “put a price on the commanding officer’s head” and have the officer with the highest donation shave Leyson’s hair.

Through a collaborative effort, the highest donation was $1,500 and Police Officer William Bahrenburg, who also shaved his hair and mustache, had the honor Thursday of shaving the deputy inspector’s hair.

“Like the police department does, we get together to help out one another,” Leyson said. “I’ve been on the job for over 20 years and there’s a lot of things that we complain about, but it is a family, when one of us is in need, that’s one thing this police department always does – step up.”

Police Officers Matthew Zimmerman and Thompson Wen, and Auxiliary Police Officer Chris Lui also volunteered to have their hair shaved in honor of Ferrara.

“It’s just the right thing to do. He’s always been there for me,” Wen said. “Hair grows back.”

So far, the precinct has collected a total of $40,000. The 81st Precinct has also contributed to the fundraiser.

“It’s the proudest I’ve been because none of this has to be done, but it’s getting done anyway,” Ferrara said.

The donations will be presented to Ferrara on Sunday, April 27 during a fundraising event at Lily Flanagan’s Pub in Babylon, Long Island.

Anyone interested in donating can mail or drop off a check at the precinct, located at 94-41 43rd Ave. in Elmhurst. Checks should be made out to the 110th Precinct General Fund, with “Sergeant Ferrara Fund” written on the memo line.

 

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Mother wants deceased EMS son recognized as 9/11 public servant


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Maggie Hayes

Dorie Pearlman sat in her Howard Beach home and combed through binders of records about her son, Richard Pearlman, who lost his life in the 9/11 attacks.

Over a decade after his life was taken, and countless media outlets and some elected officials jumped in, his mother continues to question why her EMS son is not recognized as a public servant after voluntarily running to help when the World Trade Center came down.

“I know my son. If someone needed help, he’d find a way to get down there,” Dorie said. “His life’s mission was to help people.”

Richard, who had a longstanding history with the Forest Hills Volunteer Ambulance Corps, was photographed bringing people out of the Towers. But one last time, he did not come back out. He was missing for over a week before Dorie “knew he wasn’t coming home.”

Seven months later, Richard’s body was discovered amongst the rubble. He was carried out wrapped in an American flag and awarded the Medal of Valor as an emergency service officer, an honor only given to public service employees, Dorie said.

Since then, despite compensation funds and several awards of recognition, Dorie has continually applied to grant her son a Public Servant title through the Department of Justice (DOJ), and has continually been shot down.

“He got the award, and now you’re denying me the title,” Dorie said. “The same thing you’re denying me, you also awarded me. It’s irrational.”

The title would allow the Pearlmans compensation for losing their son, but Dorie said she persistently applies “for the principle.”

Because Richard was young—18—and only a volunteer, not a city employee, the DOJ said he does not qualify, according to Dorie.

“It was a state of emergency and everybody was called to help. In that moment, they became official public servants,” she said. “I have all the proof they want. I have pictures, I have letters.”

“I don’t know where to go anymore. I’ve applied to everyone in the world,” she said. “People say you get over it, but you never get over it. You learn to deal with it.”

The DOJ did not immediately respond to request for comment.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Friday: Generally cloudy. High 48. Winds SW at 10 to 15 mph. Friday night: Partly cloudy this evening. Fog developing late. Low 43. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: The David Leonhardt Trio

The David Leonhardt Trio, an internationally acclaimed jazz group will have fingers snapping and toes tapping as they present a winter holiday concert of cool jazz and hot rhythms at Flushing Town Hall at 8 p.m. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

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