Tag Archives: Andrew Cuomo

Cuomo calls for decriminalization of marijuana possession


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Governor Andrew Cuomo today announced plans to urge lawmakers to decriminalize the public possession of small amounts of marijuana in New York.

Private possession of marijuana is currently a violation and Cuomo said this change would bring consistency and fairness to the law.

Carrying less than 25 grams of marijuana in public would become a violation punishable by a maximum fine of $100 rather than a class B misdemeanor. Smoking and selling the drug in public would remain a crime.

The governor said that more than 60 percent of the people arrested for possession of marijuana were young and 94 percent were minorities.

“The effect of a criminal conviction of a young person can alter the trajectory of their entire life,” Cuomo said at the press conference in Albany.

It was also largely a city issue with 94 percent of the arrests coming within the five boroughs.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg released a statement today in support of changing the law.

Last year, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly issued a directive to his officers to issue violations, rather than misdemeanors, for small amounts of marijuana that come into open view during a search.

“The governor’s proposal today is consistent with the commissioner’s directive, and strikes the right balance by ensuring that the NYPD will continue to have the tools it needs to maintain public safety — including making arrests for selling or smoking marijuana,” Bloomberg said.

 

Afternoon Roundup


| brennison@queenscourier.com

The-Afternoon-Roundup2

Passenger plane crashes in Nigeria’s largest city

A passenger plane crashed into a two-story building in Nigeria’s largest city of Lagos on Sunday, officials said. Read more: USA Today

Man Wanted For Attempted Child Kidnapping In Queens

Police are searching for a man they say tried to kidnap a young boy last week in St. Albans. Authorities say Mark Synclair, 33, tried to grab the seven-year-old child outside P.S. 192 on Tuesday morning. Read more: NY1

Cuomo’s $4 Billion Plan for Project in Queens Falls Apart

A $4 billion plan announced by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to create the country’s largest convention center and a casino in Queens has fallen apart, the governor acknowledged on Friday. Read more: NY Times

Die-hard Mets fan arrested after running onto field following Santana’s no-hitter

A front-row seat at Citi Field: $315. Getting arrested for storming the pitcher’s mound: a possible $1,000 fine and a year in jail. Being a part of Mets history: priceless. Rafael Diaz, 32, lived the dream of every fanatic Friday night when he bolted past security to join the joyous huddle of Amazin’s congratulating pitcher Johan Santana moments after he succeeded in putting in the books the team’s first-ever no-hitter. Read more: NY Post

Three-Car LIE Crash Kills Two In Queens

Two people are dead and a child is injured after a three-car crash on the Long Island Expressway in Queens. Investigators say a yellow taxi cab was traveling westbound on the LIE near 66th Street in Maspeth when it slammed into the rear of a Porsche at around 12:30 a.m. Saturday. Read more: NY1

Queens jury clears former NYPD narcotics detective charged with planting drugs on bar patrons

A Queens jury has cleared a former NYPD narcotics detective charged with planting drugs on innocent victims. Adolph Osback was acquitted of multiple charges of falsifying police reports, perjury and official misconduct after jurors deliberated for only 90 minutes Wednesday, his attorney Damien Brown said. Read more: Daily News

Updated “I Love NY” logo is heartless


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Governor Andrew Cuomo's office

New York’s iconic “I Love NY” campaign is now heartless.

Governor Andrew Cuomo recently announced an update to the memorable “I Love NY” campaign featuring different New York-centric items replacing the logo’s heart.

“This campaign reinvents one of our state’s great assets — the ‘I Love NY’ icon — which is known the world over as one of the most successful advertising symbols ever,” Cuomo said. “This campaign brings that icon to life in order to highlight all of the things people love about New York.”

Among the objects standing in place of the heart are thoroughbreds, wine glasses and Niagara Falls.

The “I Love NY” logo was originally created in the mid-70s by Milton Glaser.

Glaser recently told the New York Post that he was contacted to be part of the new ad campaign only after significant work had been done.

“I saw one that said, ‘I Pizza NY.’ I don’t get it,” Glaser told the Post.

Residents can remake the logo with what they adore about New York online at www.iloveny.com or submit@followyourheartny.com. Select drawings may be used to replace the heart in “I Love NY” in new ads focused on New York’s many different experiences in future campaigns.

The new ads are part of a $5 million tourism marketing campaign. The “I Love NY” ad campaign is expected to expand to feature other tourism seasons in the future.

Health Exchange will make insurance more accessible


| brennison@queenscourier.com

The governor issued an executive order recently establishing a statewide health insurance exchange after the state legislature failed to pass the bill last year.
Governor Andrew Cuomo established the New York Health Benefit Exchange on Thursday, April 12 saying, “The bottom line is that creating this health exchange will lower the cost of health insurance for small businesses, local governments and individual New Yorkers across the state.”

The statewide health care exchange will allow individuals and businesses to purchase health insurance through a state marketplace, and will comply with President Barack Obama’s health care plan. If a state did not institute one by January 2014, it would be enrolled in the federal program.

More than 2.7 million New Yorkers are uninsured, costing the state and local governments more than $600 million per year — this adds an additional $800 in premiums to a family’s average cost every year, the governor’s office said.

“The sky-high cost of insurance in New York is driving businesses out of the state and preventing lower income New Yorkers from being able to afford needed coverage,” Cuomo said. “Establishing the health exchange will bring true competition into the health care marketplace, driving costs down across the state.”

Twelve other states have established health insurance exchanges since the president enacted the Affordable Care Act in March 2010; two of the dozen states’ exchanges were also instituted through an executive order.

The Democratic-controlled Assembly passed the New York Health Benefit Exchange in June, but the Republican-controlled Senate did not vote on the measure prior to the ending of the year’s legislative session.

The exchange will be created within the state’s Health Department as opposed to as a separate entity, as was originally proposed in the legislation.

“During these tough economic times, access to quality, affordable health care is more important than ever,” said Karen Scharff, executive director of Citizen Action of New York. “By creating New York’s Health Insurance Exchange, over 1 million people who don’t have health coverage will.”

New York’s first full gaming legislature passed


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Steve Mosco

Full casino gaming could be in the cards for NYS, as the first round of legislation, in favor of expanding the state’s regulations, was passed by both houses.

Senator Joseph Addabbo, a member of the Senate’s Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, released a statement following the announcement of the legislature’s passing. Although Addabbo was absent for this process on protest, he supported the passage of New York State Gaming legislation.

“It is a step closer to having our residents vote on a referendum that could bring full gaming to the state,” said Addabbo. “It is a step closer for my constituents to have thousands of additional job opportunities at Resorts World. It is a step closer for our local communities, businesses, along with city and state governments to realize a greater potential for revenue growth.”

While Addabbo applauds this move forward, he advises that future maneuvers be done cautiously, utilizing community participation.

“I am an advocate for community input on these issues and feel most people would want their voices heard before any plans are implemented,” said Addabbo. “I look forward to working for my constituents and hearing their concerns on this issue.”

Stefan Friedman, a spokesperson from Resorts World Casino, says the passing of this legislature is a “significant step” towards full commercial gaming.

According to Friedman, laws to legalize full gaming have gone through the first round of negotiations several times in the past, but were halted before completely approved. Friedman claimed that in order for it to become legalized, two separate legislatures need to be approved – the second of which will not be decided on until 2013.

Friedman said Resorts World is eager to expand its operations if enhanced gaming is allowed. He estimates the expansion will create hundreds of additional jobs and garner millions in additional revenue – funds that are currently being spent out of state in nearby spots like Atlantic City, New Jersey where table gaming is available.

According to Friedman, between $3.1 billion to $5 billion leaves the state every year for entertainment and gaming in cites outside NYS.

Top Headlines From Around the Web


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Actor George Clooney and father arrested at Sudanese embassy in Washington

Actor George Clooney was arrested along with his father and several members of Congress outside the Sudanese Embassy Friday as they protested the country’s blockade of food and aid. Clooney, who most recently starred in “The Descendants,” and his fellow protesters were warned three times not to cross a police line outside the building on Washington’s Embassy Row. Read More: New York Post

 

Trial Resumes For Off-Duty Officer Charged In Inwood Rape

Testimony resumes today in the trial of an off-duty police officer accused of raping a Manhattan teacher. Opening remarks began yesterday in the trial of Michael Pena, 27. He’s pleaded not guilty to charges of rape and sexual assault. Prosecutors say Pena asked the 25-year-old woman for directions in Inwood in the early morning hours of August 19. They say he then threatened her with his service weapon, forced her into a courtyard and raped her. Read More: NY1

 

Yankees sign Pettitte to contract

The Yankees on Friday re-signed Andy Pettitte to a minor-league contract with the likelihood he will return to pitch in the majors. The deal is for one-year, $2.5 million. Pettitte, who attended spring training as a special instructor, got the itch to return and the sides agreed on Thursday night. Read More: New York Post

Dharun Ravi guilty of invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, other counts in Rutgers spying case

An ex-Rutgers student was convicted Friday of bias intimidation and 14 other charges for using a webcam to spy on his gay roommate’s dorm-room trysts with another man. Dharun Ravi, 20, sat stoically as the jury returned its damning verdict in a case that caused a national furor when the outed roommate jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge. Read More: Daily News

Man stabbed in the eye with fork in Chelsea diner; suspect arrested

A man was stabbed in the eye with a fork during an argument at a Chelsea diner early Friday, police said. The suspect was arrested at the scene, the Good Stuff Diner on West 14th St., where a man was killed in a dispute over a debt in 2010. Friday’s violence happened just before 5 a.m. Read More: Daily News

Cuomo Signs New Pension Deal Into Law

Governor Andrew Cuomo put his executive pen to paper today on a new state pension reform deal. Cuomo signed the legislation surrounded by mayors and county executives from around the state. The deal for pension reform was reached in marathon sessions of the legislature late Wednesday night into early Thursday morning. It creates a new Tier VI in the state pension plan, requires new hires to contribute more to their plans, and raises the retirement age from 62 to 63. Read More: NY1

Liu fund raiser’s ‘cruel’ fate


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Liu fund raiser’s ‘cruel’ fate

A day after she was slapped with federal fraud charges for alleged illegal fund-raising on behalf of John Liu’s mayoral campaign, Jia “Jenny” Hou described New York as a “cruel city” and questioned who can be trusted. In a missive on her Chinese social-networking page, Hou, 25, told friends that she’s OK — despite facing a maximum of 60 years behind bars if convicted on a slew of charges. Read More: New York Post

One teen, two others shot on Jamaica Avenue

One teenager and two 20-year-olds were shot on Jamaica Avenue in what was according to witnesses, likely gang-related activity. The shootings took place outside a Jamaica Avenue Wendy’s this afternoon at approximately 3 p.m. Two victims were shot in the leg, with one taking a bullet to the arm. Read More: Queens Courier

 

Governor’s Proposed Convention Center May Fall Flat, Skeptics Say

Some key stakeholders are sounding off as the debate heats up over Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to build the country’s largest convention center in Queens. Since the governor announced the plan in his State of the State Address in early January that he wanted to build a massive convention center at the Aqueduct racetrack in Queens and dismantle the Javits Convention Center in Manhattan there has been a lot of skepticism about the proposal. Key players and policy shapers are divided. At a breakfast forum hosted by Crain’s New York Business Thursday, concerns were raised about the true cost of the center, its proposed location, and whether it would be successful. Read More: NY1

 

 

 

Rezone plan for Richmond Hill and Woodhaven get thumbs down from some merchants 

A city plan to rezone parts of Richmond Hill and Woodhaven is getting a thumbs down from some local business leaders who say it’s too restrictive. “The new census data is showing the community has increased so why are we talking about down-zoning,” said Vishnu Mahadeo, president of the Richmond Hill Economic Development Corp. “I have signed petitions from people who oppose this. They did not know this would happen when they bought their property.” Read More: Daily News

 

 

Upstate widow accused of violating law with ‘slave’ maid
A wealthy upstate widow allegedly turned her multimillion-dollar mansion into a “forced labor” camp where her helpless immigrant maid worked 17-hour days for years while sleeping in a closet. Annie George, whose real-estate mogul husband, Mathai, died in a 2009 plane crash, allegedly made the woman cook meals, clean the 30,000-square-foot estate and care for the family’s six children, according to a federal criminal complaint. Read More: New York Post

Queens hotel fire rescue


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Queens hotel fire rescue

Firefighters fought their way through heavy smoke and shooting flames yesterday to rescue a man with no pulse from a burning Queens motel and bring him back to life. The victim was in a third-floor room at the Conduit Motor Inn in South Ozone Park at around 4 p.m. when members of Engine 302 and Ladder 155 arrived on scene. Firefighter John Summerville crawled into the room to stay beneath the smoke. “I found him face down by the window. The situation was like an inferno,” Summerville said. After reaching the victim, described as being in his 40s, Summerville pulled him out and put him in an ambulance, where another member of Engine 302 began performing CPR and got a pulse back. Read More: New York Post

Cuomo Turns His Budget Focus To Public Pensions, Education System

Governor Andrew Cuomo is getting ready to reveal his budget proposal for the new fiscal year on Tuesday. Although the governor would not share many details of the expected $130 billion plan in advance, he touted on Monday a brighter picture looking forward. “The good work that we did last year is actually going to pay dividends this year,” said Cuomo. “So, from just a budget point of view, where we had a true crisis last year, we had a $10 billion deficit, we had chaos. We have a much better budget situation on the numbers.” “We got a good start last year, moving in a better and a new direction. Took about a 90-degree turn,” said Republican Assemblyman Jim Tedisco of Schenectady. Read More: NY1

Astoria Houses kids now have ‘Promise’

More than 1,600 underprivileged children have been “granted” the opportunity to pursue their dreams. Local elected officials and community leaders gathered on January 13 to announce that a $500,000 Promise Neighborhood planning grant from the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) had been procured for the children of the Astoria Houses. Read More: Queens Courier

Druggists’ cure for anxiety: a pistol

Your friendly neighborhood pharmacist will soon be locked and loaded. Rattled druggists from Long Island to the city are increasingly applying for gun permits following a spate of fatal robberies by armed thugs desperate to score highly addictive painkillers. “I’m applying for a pistol permit because of this,’’ said Todd Svec, 48, a pharmacist and owner of the Arlo Drug store in Massapequa Park, LI. “I will feel safer if I have one.’’  Svec’s wife is also a pharmacist at the store — and his four daughters work there. He pointed out that Charlie’s Family Pharmacy in Seaford, LI, where on New Year’s Eve a pill-popping ex-con attempted a stickup that left the thug and an off-duty federal agent dead “is just two miles from here.”  Read More: New York Post

Baby born on PATH train between NJ & NYC

Next stop, maternity ward! A woman went into labor on a New York-bound PATH train yesterday, and her baby took the express track — he was born before the train even pulled in to its Manhattan terminal. When Rabita Sarkar and her husband, Aditya Saurabh, left their Harrison, NJ, home they were still planning their unborn child’s exciting future. But by the time their train rumbled into Manhattan’s 33rd Street station, they were a new family, complete with a baby boy and a train car full of honorary uncles and aunts. “He came in a very dramatic fashion,” the smiling new mom told The Post from her bed at Roosevelt Hospital. Read More: New York Post

One more time, vengeance shall be Giants’

The Giants wanted another shot at the 49ers, wanted the stakes higher than they were in November. Now they have it, and it doesn’t bother them in the least that the game is in San Francisco, because they would play this one, the one that is the Golden Gateway to Glory, on the moon. Jim Harbaugh has restored the pride to a storied franchise, and 60 minutes from the Super Bowl means the Giants will be expecting a hostile environment Sunday night — and possibly a rainy one as well — at Candlestick Park. “I can care less about how hostile it is, it’s a game,” Antrel Rolle said. “When you’re home, you want to bring ’em to their feet. When you’re away, you want to bring ’em to their knees, and that’s the way I look at it.” Read More: New York Post

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales announces blackout to protest anti-piracy bills in Congress

Wikipedia will black out the English language version of its website Wednesday to protest anti-piracy legislation under consideration in Congress, the foundation behind the popular community-based online encyclopedia said in a statement Monday night. The website will go dark for 24 hours in an unprecedented move that brings added muscle to a growing base of critics of the legislation. Wikipedia is considered one of the Internet’s most popular websites, with millions of visitors daily. “If passed, this legislation will harm the free and open Internet and bring about new tools for censorship of international websites inside the United States,” the Wikimedia foundation said. Read More: Daily News

Figoski’s ‘murderer’ says he never set out to ‘kill a cop’


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Figoski’s ‘murderer’ says he never set out to ‘kill a cop’

The thug accused of gunning down Officer Peter Figoski last month during a botched Brooklyn robbery told detectives after his arrest he was “sorry” and never set out to “kill a cop.” “I’m sorry for what I did,” Lamont Pride blurted out as the detectives drove him to Central Booking, according to court papers made public at a brief hearing in Brooklyn Supreme Court yesterday. “I didn’t mean for this to happen,” Pride whined. Read More: New York Post

NYC employee arrested for allegedly selling drugs in front of residential building in Queens

A New York City employee has been arrested on drug charges. Police say 47-year-old Donald Gibbs was arrested for allegedly selling drugs in front of a residential building in Queens Wednesday evening. Police say Gibbs was employed as a NYPD school safety agent. He was charged with criminal sale of a controlled substance and criminal use of drug paraphernalia. It was not immediately clear if he had a lawyer. Read More: New York Post

Mega Convention Center Planned for Queens

There were two major points in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State speech that everyone saw coming, both of which have a lot to do with Queens. During his speech on Wednesday, January 4, the governor formally introduced the idea of legalizing full table gaming in New York State, which would mean big news for Resorts World Casino in South Ozone Park. He also revealed his plan to initiate the building of the country’s largest convention center on that ground, the former site of the Aqueduct Racino. Read More: Queens Courier

Life for pregnant-gal slay

A Queens man convicted of murdering his pregnant girlfriend was tossed into prison for 25 years to life yesterday. Derrick Redd, 39, of Far Rockaway, was found guilty of stabbing Naisha Delain about 30 times, killing her and their unborn son on the baby’s due date. Before Redd was sentenced by Queens Supreme Court Justice Daniel Lewis, he slammed the judge for denying his lawyer’s motion to throw out the jury’s verdict. Delain’s mom, Towanda Wimms, and other family members left the court praising the judge with applause. Read More: New York Post

Judge rips man who set up ex-girlfriend as ‘diabolical” & sends him to jail for 32 years

A Queens judge sentenced a cunning private eye to 32 years in prison Wednesday, calling him a “diabolical conniver and sinister manipulator” who framed his ex-girlfriend for robbery after she accused him of rape. Supreme Court Justice Richard Buchter tore into Jerry Ramrattan for trying to bolster his plea for mercy by bragging about the help he had given law enforcement agencies as a confidential informant. Read More: Daily News

Overview of Cuomo’s 2012 State of the State Address

 

In his second State of the State speech since taking office, Governor Andrew Cuomo said he plans to straighten out the state’s fiscal problems while expanding job growth and strengthening education. In front of hundreds of lawmakers, policy leaders and other New Yorkers, the governor delivered his vision for 2012 – a vision that seeks to spin stagnation into governmental action. Read More & Watch the Video: Queens Courier

State Liquor Authority postpones decision for controversial Long Island City strip club

Supporters and opponents of a proposed Long Island City strip club have two more weeks to make their case before the State Liquor Authority. Commissioners from the authority heard more than an hour of testimony Wednesday but delayed a decision until a January 18 meeting so they can pore through reports and other documents submitted by the Gypsy Rose’s operators, known as 21 Group Inc. Elected officials and community leaders have fought bitterly over the last few years to stop the club from opening at the 21st Street location, just at the foot of the Queensboro Bridge. Read More: Daily News

Alleged Queens firebomber wanted to massacre Muslims in mosque, prosecutors say

The unhinged Queens pyromaniac who unleashed a scary New Year’s Day firebombing spree had planned to take out “as many Muslims and Arabs as possible” by lobbing Molotov cocktails at worshipers inside a mosque, prosecutors said. Ray Lazier Lengend, 40, allegedly told cops he had planned to inflict “as much damage as possible” by hurling all five of his firebombs from the balcony of Imam Al-Khoei Islamic Center onto the crowd below.
The hateful bomb-hurler, who is under psychiatric observation at Bellevue Hospital center, flat-out told detectives he did not like Muslims or Arabs, prosecutors said. “This is a message to anyone who does this in the future,” said Imam Maan Al-Sahlani, leader of Imam Al-Khoei Islamic Center, where Lengend planned to inflict major casualties. “It’s a good message that justice will come for you, the police will come for you.” Read More: Daily News

Cuomo delivers 2012 State of the State [Watch Video of Speech]


| smosco@queenscourier.com

6637181889_07f2261108_bw

In his second State of the State speech since taking office, Governor Andrew Cuomo said he plans to straighten out the state’s fiscal problems while expanding job growth and strengthening education.

In front of hundreds of lawmakers, policy leaders and other New Yorkers, the governor delivered his vision for 2012 – a vision that seeks to spin stagnation into governmental action.

“New York State is on the way to coming back stronger than ever before,” the governor said during his speech from Albany on Wednesday, January 4. “By working together in a bipartisan manner and putting the people first, we have established the credibility to govern and to lead. Now we must build on what we have already accomplished to begin to undo decades of decline. We have big problems, but we are confronting them with big solutions. Now is the time to get to work, building a New New York together.”

Cuomo revealed his “Economic Blueprint for New York” and issued a challenge to the state and to himself: “Our challenge for 2012 is this: How does government spur job creation in a down economy while limiting spending and maintaining fiscal discipline? The answer is forging public-private partnerships that leverage state resources to generate billions of dollars in economic growth and create thousands of jobs.”

Some of the governor’s major points included:

– Building the largest convention center in the country at the Aqueduct Racino in South Ozone Park
-Revamping the Jacob Javits site
-$1 billion economic development package for Buffalo
– A second round of Regional Economic Development awards
– Utilization of casino gaming
– New York Works Fund and task force to create private sector jobs and rebuild the state’s infrastructure.
– An “Energy Highway” system to power New York’s economic growth
– Invest in solar energy

Cuomo said that in order to tackle his agenda for 2012, the state government would have to be reimaged in a way that it performs better at a lower cost. To accomplish this, the governor proposed:

– Long term commitment to fiscal discipline by holding the line on spending and closing the remaining $2 billion budget deficit with no new taxes or fees.
-Mandate Relief, which will reform the pension system. The governor said he will ask the joint legislature and executive mandate relief council to hold public hearings.
– Transform public education by appointing a bipartisan education commission to work with the legislature to recommend reforms in key areas including teach accountability, student achievement and management efficiency.
-Redesigning New York’s Emergency Management System by calling for a statewide network of municipal and regional emergency responders.

Cuomo also lauded New York for its progressive history and said that history will be built upon with these initiatives:

– Foreclosure Prevention Assistance
– Tenant Protection Unit
– Continued commitment to Minority and Women-Owned Businesses
– Additional SUNY Challenge Grants
– Increase participation in food stamp programs
– Create an all-crimes DNA database
– Establish a tax reform and fairness commission
– Implement campaign finance reform

Eastern Queens joining together to be less divided


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Eastern Queens is uniting in a fight to make district lines dividing the community disappear.

A group of civic associations, local leaders and concerned residents from Glen Oaks, Floral Park, New Hyde Park, Bellerose and Queens Village have joined forces to form Eastern Queens United, a coalition demanding their neighborhoods be rejoined in the same congressional and assembly districts.

“We need district lines that will unite us, not divide us,” said Bob Friedrich, president of Glen Oaks Village. “Regardless of color, nationality, religion or cultural identity, we all care about our families, our schools, our jobs, our safety and our community. This is the glue of commonality that keeps us together.”

Eastern Queens United is urging the Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment (LATFOR) to undo what the group calls the “gerrymandering” of the neighborhoods between Assembly Districts 24,26 and 33 and unite the area into a single district. The coalition also wants the division of the community between Congressional Districts 5 and 6 to be resolved. The neighborhoods are currently united in a single state Senate and city council district.

“We are a single ‘community of interest’ that needs to stay united in all legislative districts,” said Ali Najmi, an attorney, lead organizer and counsel to Eastern Queens United. “LATFOR must not divide us.”

To gather supporters for their cause, Eastern Queens United is planning a community meeting and rally in the near future.

The group argues that the dividing lines are detrimental to the community, separating residents and preventing them from improving the standard of living in the neighborhoods.

“For those of us on the front lines fighting for quality-of-life issues, reduced property taxes and other issues that affect us every day, we know how important these district lines are,” said Angela Augugliaro, president of Queens Colony Civic Association. “We have a unique community that can only have its interest served if we are united within the same legislative districts.”

LATFOR will make recommendations to the New York State Legislature regarding district lines early next year, after which its proposal must be voted upon and approved by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

The neighborhoods were separated roughly 10 years ago, and Friedrich says if the group is unable to foster change, the communities will remain divided for another decade. “We want to make sure they don’t do to us what they did 10 years ago,” he said. “These lines were drawn for political considerations only, and not for what is best for the community. District lines run right through some communities, which is confusing and detrimental to the neighborhood. We will not accept district lines that slice and dice us as if we are on some legislative committee’s chopping block.”

Suspects Held Without Bail In Alleged Murder Of NYPD Officer


| jlane@queenscourier.com

The Round Up

Suspects Held Without Bail In Alleged Murder Of NYPD Officer

Prosecutors said Tuesday that Lamont Pride didn’t hesitate to pull the trigger on NYPD Officer Peter Figoski. “He was targeted for homicide because he wore the uniform of the NYPD,” said Ken Taub, chief of homicide at the Brooklyn district attorney’s office. Prosecutors say Pride and four accomplices went to a basement apartment on Pine Street in Cypress Hills early Monday to rob a drug dealer, but when police arrived, the alleged robbers were cornered. Pride allegedly shot Figoski once in the face, killing him. Read More: NY1

Cop-slayer suspect’s gun came from same Virigina store as 1990 killing

Twenty-one years separate the fatal shooting of Officer Peter Figoski from the senseless murder of 9-month-old Rayvon Jamison, but they are linked by a terrible history. The guns that killed them both came from the same Virginia store. And that store is still owned by the same man, Marlon Dance. In August 1990, little Rayvon became the poster boy for victims of senseless gun violence when he was felled in his Bronx apartment by stray shots that pierced a metal door and cut him down in his walker. Now, Figoski — a 47-year-old father of four — has become the face of New York’s futile fight to stop the flow of deadly guns from Virginia’s gun dealers up the so-called Iron Pipeline to the city. Read More: Daily News

Five charged in killing of Officer Peter Figoski: Lamont Pride, Kevin Santos, Nelson Moralez, Ariel Tejada and Michael Velez

The five men who took the life of decorated NYPD Officer Peter Figoski in a botched robbery have spent much of their lives pulling the kinds of crimes Figoski dedicated his life to stamping out. The five petty crooks in their have lengthy rap sheets stretching back a dozen years. “Even though they’re relatively young people, they still have significant experience in crime,” said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. Their criminal resumes are littered with larcenies, muggings, drug possession and trespassing raps. Read More: Daily News

Two sanitation workers make life-saving catch in Rockaways

Two sanitation workers made life-saving grabs as they caught five children who leapt from a burning house in the Rockaways. Joseph Maneggio and Semi Nkozi saw a house ablaze on McBride Street while on their route at approximately 6:15 a.m. this morning.  The sanitation workers raced over and caught the children as they jumped from the roof.  A woman, also on the roof, suffered a broken foot from the jump. Read More: Queens Courier

Jet fan’s vicious ‘chief’ beatdown

A diehard Jet fan was savagely beaten on his own turf by a drunken gang of Kansas City Chiefs fans after their team was trounced on Sunday — with one of the assailants barking “F–k New York” and “You all deserved what happened on 9/11!” the victim’s distraught family told The Post. James Mohr, 23, a physical-education teacher at the Bronx Guild vocational high school, was wearing his Jets gear after the team’s 37-10 victory as he walked through Parking Lot J at MetLife Stadium when a woman standing with a pack of thugs screamed the vile taunts. Mohr took offense and told the rowdies their 9/11 insult was “disrespectful,” said his sister, Anna Mohr, 28. Read More: New York Post

Jury slams cage door on SoHo’s ‘Cat Woman Burglar’

The “Cat Woman” burglar — whose cat-masked wanted poster became an Internet sensation last year — was convicted today of armed robbery charges from heists at two high-end SoHo boutiques. It took a Manhattan Supreme Court jury just 30 minutes to reach their verdict against Shana Spalding, 29, of Astoria, Queens. She is to be sentenced Jan. 18, and faces a maximum of 15 years on the top armed robbery charge against her. Read More: New York Post

City fined owner of  building where cop was shot for illegal apartments

The rundown Brooklyn house where a police officer was shot to death Monday has long been on the city’s radar screen as a trouble spot. The city has spent $6,500 in taxpayer money on emergency repairs at 25 Pine St. in Cypress Hills and has repeatedly cited the owner for running an illegal single-room occupancy hotel in what is supposed to be a two-family home. Neighbors believed it was a drug den. Read More: Daily News

Cuomo To Seek Deal On Livery Cab Bill

Governor Andrew Cuomo is looking to reach a deal on the controversial livery cab bill Wednesday. He will be holding a summit with the stakeholders involved in the legislation negotiations. The proposed bill would allow the city to issue 30,000 livery cab medallions so drivers can pick up street hails in Upper Manhattan and the other four boroughs. Cuomo said he will veto the bill unless it includes a provision to make more cabs wheelchair-accessible. Read More: NY1

City eyes site in Jamaica for new Animal Care and Control receiving center in Queens 

A plan to convert a veterinarian’s office into the new Queens drop-off point for stray animals has raised the hackles of some animal lovers. Community Board 8 is set to review the proposal Wednesday night as part of a promised city effort to expand animal control services in Queens and the Bronx. The city wants to move its animal receiving center, operated by NYC Animal Care and Control, from its current spot in Rego Park to the veterinarian’s office at 185-17 Hillside Ave. in Jamaica. Read More: Daily News

Ex-NBA player Kenny Anderson charged with leaving scene of Miramar crash

Retired NBA point guard Kenny Anderson was charged with leaving the scene of an accident Sunday after Miramar police say his Cadillac Escalade failed to negotiate a curve and crashed into two trees along a swale.
No one was injured, Miramar police said, and Anderson, 41, was charged with the misdemeanor offense after the early evening crash. The Queens, N.Y.-born Anderson, who played for nine NBA teams, left the scene on foot, according to a Miramar police complaint affidavit. Read More: Sun Sentinel

Post Offices To Remain Open Until May Under New Deal

The United States Postal Service is holding off on plans to close 3,500 facilities across the country, including 34 in New York City. The moratorium was announced Tuesday as part of a deal with the Senate. No post offices or mail sorting facilities will be closed until at least May 15, giving Congress more time to come up with a cost-cutting plan. “When it’s all said and done, this is a challenge to Congress: put up or shut up. If you don’t like what the postal service has put forward, in terms of closing processing facilities and post offices and eliminating jobs, come up with a better approach,” said Illinois Senator Richard Durbin. Read More: NY1

 


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

On Sunday, November 13, a new law went into effect that bans smoking in outdoor areas of ticketing, boarding and platforms on stations operated by the MTA. This law was passed by the State Legislature with bipartisan support and signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo in August 2011.

Everyone has the right to breathe clean air, and this legislation is good public health policy that protects New Yorkers from secondhand smoke. The North Shore LIJ Health System, Queens Smoke Free Partnership, Senator Toby Stavisky and Senator Andrew Lanza applaud this initiative.

There is no safe level of secondhand smoke exposure. Just 30 minutes of exposure to secondhand smoke can increase the risk of blood clots and lead to more frequent asthma attacks in children. Secondhand smoke contains more than 250 chemicals known to be toxic or carcinogenic. Non-smokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke are inhaling many of the same cancer-causing substances and poisons as smokers. Secondhand smoke causes premature death and disease in children and adults who do not smoke.

Now that the law is in full effect, we would like to encourage Queens and Staten Island residents to quit smoking. Did you know that the Rockaways has the highest percentage of smokers (22 percent), followed closely by northwest Queens (20 percent), northeast Queens (18 percent) and central Queens (17 percent)? Staten Island residents have a smoking rate of 17 percent, while the New York City resident rate is 14 percent.

Protect yourself and those you love by helping someone quit smoking today. Why not? It’s free. Call the New York Smokers’ Quitline at 866-NY-QUITS (697-8487) or visit nysmokefree.com.

If you would like more information on cessation or smoke free outdoor policies, please call the Queens Smoke Partnership at 718-213-1550or visit www.nycsmokefree.org/Queens.

 

Sincerely,

Nancy Copperman, MS,RD,CDN                                                                                        Director of Public Health Initiatives                                                                                        North Shore LIJ Health System

 ANDREW J. LANZA
Senator, 24th District

 Toby Ann Stavisky                                                                                                               Senator, 16th District

Will new MTA chair steam ahead?


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

It will be interesting to see if the new Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Chair Joe Lhota will be any more successful than Jay Walder and his predecessors in dealing with the challenges ahead. 

The original proposed $29 billion Five Year Capital Plan was cut to $24 billion, but still faces a $9 billion shortfall.  Proposed plans to borrow another $9 billion will just increase the MTA’s long term debt from $30 to $39 billion. Yearly service payments on the debt will take an even bigger chunk out of the budget, leaving even less money for routine capital improvements, let alone any system expansion.  

Only Uncle Sam, New York State, New York City, California and several other states carry more long-term debt than the MTA.

For decades, under numerous past MTA Five Year Capital Plans, both the city and state collectively cut billions of their own respective financial contributions.  They repeatedly had the MTA refinance or borrow funds to acquire scarce capital funding formerly made up by hard cash from both City Hall and Albany. 

Will Lhota be able to convince his benefactor – Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Michael Bloomberg – to contribute their fair share?  Time will tell.

 

 

Larry Penner

Great Neck

 

Politics Aside: Time for pink slips to fly


| RHornak@queenscourier.com

Nobody likes to see anyone fired; especially when times are tough and jobs are hard to find. But the fact remains that one of New York’s biggest problems is a bloated public employee force, with generous pay and benefits compared to what is found in the private sector.

Governor Andrew Cuomo is approaching the end of his first year in office and has received high marks across the board for his make-no-excuses approach to dealing with our budget problems. This has been a crises going back over 20 years to the last Governor Cuomo, and every governor since has addressed the problem the same way, raise taxes and raise spending even more.

This has created a structural problem, where our budget increases at a rate faster than we can keep up with. Much of this has been driven by Big Labor, which has not only refused to make concessions in the past, but instead has kept up pressure for bigger and more outrageous increases that have driven New York to the top of the highest taxed state list.

To his credit, Cuomo has refused to engage in the tactics of the past, namely passing the buck for another year while resorting to class-warfare/soak-the-rich campaigns that always ended up with higher taxes on the middle class (often disguised as fees). This was the modus operandi during the Mario Cuomo, Pataki and Spitzer years.

Now almost 10 months in, it’s time for the governor to make some tough decisions. CSEA, the largest union in N.Y., has worked out a five-year agreement with Cuomo to cut costs with no layoffs. However, that deal doesn’t seem to be acceptable to PEF, the 56,000-member public employees union. Union leaders agreed to the deal over the summer, but now the members have voted to reject the contract.

Cuomo promised that if they didn’t ratify the contract, he would be forced to lay off 3,500 members. Now PEF wants to renegotiate, complaining about the five-year term of the contract, among other things. But after more than 20 years of riding the gravy train, more than five years of austerity will be required to get our house in order.

This should be a non-negotiable point. CSEA already set the standard by agreeing to a five year deal. If Cuomo caves on this with PEF, he will be far weaker when dealing with other unions. Nobody wants to see anyone fired now, but Cuomo must make good on his promise. Fire the 3,500 PEF employees, who the union clearly didn’t feel were a priority, and let’s make New York’s budget structurally sound once and for all.

Robert Hornak is a Queens-based political consultant, blogger, and an active member of the Queens Republican Party.