Tag Archives: Bay TERRACE

Bus strike leaves parents, students scrambling


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Alexa Altman

Dodging icy sleet, first-grader Tarunima Bhowmik and her father Gola grabbed a cab from their home in Sunnyside on their way to Tarunima’s school, P.S. 166  Golain Astoria. Fare cost about $10, a necessary evil with New York City school buses out of commission.

“It’s a very hard time for the kids,” Gola said of the school bus strike as he dropped off his daughter. “The bus drivers and the city authorities should come to an agreement as soon as possible.”

Riding the bus is first-grader Aviva Kaufman’s favorite part of the day. Every morning, the six-year-old hops on the big yellow rig in her Bay Terrace neighborhood and rides to P.S. 130 in Flushing with her classmates. Her mother Kari covets the spare time she gains in the morning when Aviva takes the bus, running errands and catching up on housework before heading to her job at a nearby preschool.

When Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union announced that school bus drivers would begin striking on Wednesday, January 16, parents panicked over wrecked routines and tricky transportation alternatives. Nearly 152,000 students, who rely on city-contracted buses to get to class on time, are now stranded.

“I’ll have to drive her and pick her up every day,” said Kari. “Instead of having time in the morning, I have to go straight to work. [The strike] really impacts the number of things I can do during the day, in order to do them safely.”

Local 1181’s motive for striking rests in job security after the city announced attempts to find new contractors for more than 1,000 bus routes. Drivers want the city to ensure job stability, a request city officials have deemed “illegal,” adding that any kind of discrepancies are between the employees and the bus companies.

“This is not about safety,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “It’s about job protection that the city cannot offer.”

According to Bloomberg, the city spends $1.1 billion annually on student transit, equaling $6,900 per child, which the mayor said is far greater than any other American city, including Los Angeles which he cited at $3,100 per student. Bloomberg claimed that over the last five years, altering bus routes and opening contracts to other bidders has saved the city $95 million in taxpayer dollars, allotting more money for teachers’ salaries and schoolhouse improvement projects.

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott called the lockout “a strike against our students,” that will have “a devastating effect” on them.

Michael Cordiello, president of Local 1181, stood by his group’s decision to begin striking on Wednesday, stating that their justification lies in their increased responsibility to “handle and transport the most precious cargo in New York City.”

“I heard it was said today that if we strike, we are striking the children of the city of New York,” said Cordiello. “In fact, we would be striking for the city of New York’s children.

According to Cordiello, starting pay for bus drivers is $14 per hour, amounting to $38,000 annually, and pension plans for operators are private and don’t impact taxpayers. Cordiello also stated that contrary to what city officials have claimed, the drivers’ objective of job security does not break any laws.

To ease transit tension, students in grades kindergarten through six will be issued MetroCards with students in kindergarten through second grade eligible for an extra MetroCard for parents who wish to accompany their children to school. Parents driving their children to school can receive gas reimbursements at 55 cents per mile.

Gola said he hopes his daughter’s school will reimburse him for their morning cab ride, but hasn’t heard anything yet.

Kari fears the bus strike could jeopardize student’s safety, adding that drivers undergo diligent training as well as a thorough screening process before they are put behind the wheel. Substitute drivers may not be as equipped to care for students, she said.

“I don’t want my child riding on a bus with someone who hasn’t been trained and tested,” said Kari. “The safety of my child is not clear then.”

Though the strike affects 152,000 students, some school buses were still running Wednesday.


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Fan, former player reaction to Piazza and Baseball Hall of Fame vote


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

File photo

Ten days after the world stopped and cried for New York, Mike Piazza made history with a swing of the bat that gave the city hope once again.

The September 21, 2001 homerun Piazza hit was late in the first professional sports game since the September 11 attacks, and gave the Mets the lead in front of thousands of fans, many of whom were first responders.

A power hitter who revived the fan base in the late 1990s and 2000s, Piazza was etched into the baseball history books because of this moment.

But will he have to wait before his plaque makes it into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Piazza did not receive enough votes to make it in to Cooperstown, nor did any other candidate — the first time since 1996 that writers failed to vote someone in.

The 12-time All Star catcher played in the Steroid Era of baseball and was on the same ballot as alleged steroid users Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa. Piazza was never directly linked to using steroids, but many baseball critics were concerned his just playing during the tainted era would hurt his chances.

Piazza batted .296 and hit 220 homeruns in orange and blue between May 1998 to September 2005. He hit his 352nd career dinger in 2004 to surpass Carlton Fisk as the alltime homerun hitter for catchers. If he does make it to the Hall of Fame, Piazza has said he wants to be remembered as a Met and not a Los Angeles Dodger, where he started his career.

Paul LoDuca, who took over as catcher after Piazza left Flushing at the end of 2005, tweeted disappointment that baseball writers hadn’t voted in his colleague.

“Once again: Tell the Voters to strap on the gear for 9 innings and put the numbers up Mike Piazza did,” LoDuca tweeted. “I don’t care if he used rocket fuel.”

LoDuca, who admitted to taking Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) during his career, followed up later by saying an entire generation of baseball should not be scolded for the mistakes of some.

“I took PEDs and I’m not proud of it,” he wrote. “But people that think you can take a shot or a pill and play like the legends on that ballot need help.”

David Adler of Bay Terrace, a 50-year Met fan, was disappointed Piazza did not get enough votes this year, and credited it to accused steriod users taking away votes.

“He [Piazza] should have gotten in,” he said. “A lot of votes went to players using performance enhancing drugs and that, I feel, took votes away for him.”

Adelr and other fans are sure Piazza will one day make it into Cooperstown with an interlocking “NY” on his cap.

“He went to the World Series with the Mets, not as a Dodger,” Adelr said. “You would think that that would count for something.”

— With additional reporting by Anthony O’Reilly

 

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Grace Meng sworn in as first Asian-American from NY in Congress


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Maggie Hayes

The Courier tagged along on a bus trip to Washington, D. C. as the 113th Congress was sworn in.

It’s five in the morning, and over 100 people gathered outside in Flushing, anxiously waiting to board buses making the trek down to our nation’s capital to watch the 113th Congress — and the first Asian-American from New York — be sworn in.

Former Assemblymember Grace Meng made history last November when she was elected to represent the 6th Congressional District.

Community leaders and constituents journeyed to Washington, D.C. on Thursday, January 3 to witness her, along with Hakeem Jeffries, Gregory Meeks and Steve Israel, officially become members of the 113th Congress.

“We are very proud today,” said Councilmember Peter Koo. “It’s very historic. I hope that she [Meng] will be a role model and a trailblazer for the new generation.”

After the drive to D.C., supporters were able to watch the newly minted Congressmembers cast their first vote for House Speaker, and then be officially sworn in to the new session.

Hakeem Jeffries, Meng’s former colleague in the Assembly, was also sworn in to represent the 8th Congressional District — which includes Howard Beach, Ozone Park and Lindenwood. Jeffries faced a comparatively lighter general election than Meng, after the Brooklyn-based legislator beat Councilmember Charles Barron in a June primary election.

Incumbent members of Congress Joseph Crowley of the 14th District, Gregory Meeks of the 5th District, and Steve Israel of the 3rd held onto their positions in the House and were also sworn into the new session.

After the swearing in ceremony, Meng joined her constituents and spoke about upcoming plans in her new position. Gun control legislation, immigration reform and passing the Sandy aid bill are at the forefront.

“There are a lot of issues that we need to work on, and I look forward to working with you,” Meng said. “And you all are the eyes and ears of our community.”

 

Dine while you shop in Bayside


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Melissa Chan

The 230 businesses that line Bell Boulevard are 230 reasons alone to visit one of the busiest commercial corridors in the northeast portion of the borough, according to Bayside Village’s executive business director.

The popular strip is well-known for its long established eateries and beloved bars, but Bayside Village Business Improvement District’s (BID) executive director, Lyle Sclair, said there’s more to the boulevard, long deemed “restaurant row,” than a place to grab a bite.

A majority of businesses — 32 percent — along the tree-lined streets are made up of professional practices, ranging from medical doctors to lawyers, accountants, bankers and realtors, Sclair said. Eating and drinking establishments only represent 27 percent of businesses.

“People definitely know us for the bars and restaurants, but a lot of people don’t know that you can get all your wedding day needs on Bell Boulevard too,” Sclair said.

Brides and grooms planning their nuptials can find everything from their dresses and tuxedos to hair and makeup services along the strip, the business head said. They can also buy their wedding rings, book their honeymoons and even pick out lingerie for the big night.

Auburndale also boasts its hidden foodie gem, Durso’s Pasta & Ravioli Company, while Fresh Meadows is home to its own collection of cuisines along 188th Street and Union Turnpike.

THE COURIER/Photos by Melissa Chan

For a shopping mecca filled with an assortment of entertainment, shopping and dining options, without the bustle and congestion of the city, visit The Bay Terrace Shopping Center at 211-01 26th Avenue and Bell Boulevard. The center features one dozen restaurants, including Tony Roma’s and Outback Steakhouse, and more than 30 shops.

Obama protestors attacked in Bay Terrace


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER / Photo by Melissa Chan

A pair of political action pals rallying to impeach President Barack Obama fought a protest of their own when they said an irate middle-aged man pushed them and ripped down their posters.

“I was scared. The guy was just violent and crazy,” said Margaret Greenspan of the tri-state LaRouche Political Action Committee. “I’m used to people who don’t like us, but people who attack us and rip our signs down are not usual. We set up and people try to scare us like that. We have the right to be here.”

Greenspan, who had set up a booth on the corner of 26th Avenue and 212th Street in front of The Bay Terrace shopping center with her partner Daniel Burke, said a white man in his 50s pulled his car over around 10 a.m. on Wednesday, August 29, leaped out and started screaming at them and tearing down their posters.

One enlarged photo in particular, Greenspan said, which depicted the president of the Free World sporting a Hitler-like mustache, seemed to send the man into a furious rage.

“He said, ‘How dare you put a mustache on Obama in front of a synagogue,’” said Greenspan, 61, of New Jersey, who pointed to the Benenson Family Chabad Community Center directly across the street.

But when Greenspan said she whipped out her phone to call the cops, the man fled, “taking off like a bat out of hell.”

“We were shouting at him to leave us alone. We told him he should be ashamed of himself,” said Burke, 26, of New Jersey.

Greenspan, who justified the sign by comparing Obama to “a killer like Hitler,” was told by cops she could not press charges because it was just harassment, with no physical injuries, and not an assault.

“We’re fighting to get Obama out before the election because he’s trying to start a war with Syria which would lead to a war with Russia and China. It would be a worldwide disaster,” she said.

Burke stressed the fight wasn’t directly against the president, but also of his Republican presidential opponent Mitt Romney.

“We need a new candidate,” he said. “These guys are complete nightmares. Romney and Paul Ryan are straight fascists.”

Donate blood and receive free Mets tickets


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

On Tuesday, August 21, there will be a blood drive at the Bay Terrace Shopping Center, where donors will receive free Mets tickets.

The drive, organized by the New York Blood Center and Councilmember Dan Halloran, will take place from 4:00 to 8:30 p.m. at 211-39 26th Avenue in Bay Terrace.

To make an appointment, visit www.nybc.org.

Tony Roma – Superb Ribs Served


| vschneps@queenscourier.com

P1000827(W)

“This is delicious!” So said my son Josh as he bit into his baby back ribs at Tony Roma’s on the upper level of The Bay Terrace shopping center on 26th Avenue.

I had taken my family to the restaurant after I heard many rave reviews from friends. They were right.

We began our dinner “outing” with seven-month-old Jonah and his parents and uncle and were greeted by a “welcomer” – a nice touch as we entered a handsome contemporary environment with high ceilings that effectively absorb the noise, so that the spacious restaurant and bar seem almost intimate.

We sat at a table, but there are many booths around the perimeter of the room. With the baby in a high chair, sitting at a table worked well for us.

To begin our meal we ordered Tony Roma’s signature dish – a mouthwatering delicious onion loaf made from giant hand cut Spanish onions, lightly breaded, and deep fried into a delectable crunchiness surrounded by their original BBQ sauce.

Forced by New York City law, all the dishes have calorie counts. It is very enlightening and helpful for those of us who are on diets!

We also sampled the spinach artichoke dip served with warm tortilla chips, sour cream and salsa. It was also delicious, but the onion loaf was irresistible and we each fought for our share!

There is a Roma sampler I’d recommend that includes the two above and boneless Buffalo bites – chicken breast lightly breaded and tossed with Buffalo sauce.

The drinks came minutes later and there are free refills on soft drinks and iced tea. Ours were repeatedly refilled by the attentive waitperson assigned to our table.

Although there are chicken and fish choices, any trip to Tony Roma’s must mean you order ribs or steaks.

We sampled several rib and steak dishes – pork and beef with different sauces – each one was tasty and the meat fell off the bones, as it was tender and juicy.

There is a wide selection of side dishes, but make sure to order the “loaded mashed potatoes.” At only 194 calories, it is amazingly tasty and worth every calorie! Try it; you’ll love it!

There is free delivery in many northeast Queens communities and a take out counter for fast food pick-up. Tony Roma’s has a handsome bar with booths for dining and TVs all around the space. They are open seven-days-a-week for lunch and dinner. Call for delivery or reservations: 718-224-TONY (8669).

Tony Roma’s

The Bay Terrace shopping center

(next to the movie theatre)

210-35 26th Avenue

Bayside, NY, 11360

Phone: 718-224-TONY (8669)

Credit: All cards accepted

Hours: Open 7-days-a-week for lunch and dinner

Parking: Plentiful and free

Take out available and free delivery

 

Lois Christie hosts industry leaders


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of The Queens Courier

Lois Christie is not only the founder, president and CEO of the Christie & Co. Salon * Spa in The Bay Terrace, she is also president of Intercoiffure America/Canada.

She and the organization recently hosted the 2011 Fall Atelier, which combined the themes of Hollywood celebrities and red carpet glamour, at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York.

“Our members attend the Atelier to meet other owners and artists who are as passionate and driven as themselves,” said Christie. “Certainly, the presentations are superb. But the sharing of knowledge and ideas face to face with leaders like Gina Khan and Vivienne Mackinder is exhilarating.”

To learn more about Intercoiffure America/Canada, visit www.intercoiffure.com.

Occupy Wall Street reaches Bayside


| bdoda@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Bob Doda Occupy Bayside protesters outside the Bayside LIRR station called for an end to corporate greed.

Now in their fourth week in Manhattan, the Occupy Wall Street movement that has gained national attention made its way to Bell Boulevard on Thursday morning, October 13. Standing outside the Bayside LIRR Station, almost a dozen protesters held signs calling for taxes on corporations; more specifically, the Tiny Speculator Tax. Those in attendance at the rally – organized by the Northeast Queens MoveOn Council – handed out literature explaining that a tax on financial speculation would make “dangerous, market crashing derivatives” less profitable and “encourage Wall Street to make real investments that create jobs and real (not paper) economic activity.”

“Forty-two years ago, I was fighting for democracy in Vietnam,” said Thomas Hagan of Bayside. “I might have been wrong about that one. This time I’m fighting against a corporate takeover and I know I’m on the right side.”

The rally was not well attended on a rainy Thursday morning with the police presence out numbering protesters but according to Rita Krich of Bay Terrace, it’s important to get their message across.

“This is a very bad time for young people,” said Krich. “I want them to have jobs and support the world they live in.”

Another protester had a different way of getting the message across. Using his would-be mid-day break, a man who identified himself as David Yale – a banker from Chase Manhattan – came to the Bayside LIRR in a suit and tie holding a sign that said “Your Friendly Trusted Banker” while handing fake money “back” to commuters and passers-by.

“I was feeling really guilty about all this money that was given to me by the government from the people so to make my good name better I’m going to give it back to the people it belongs to,” said Yale.

Those in attendance plan to move the rally up Northern Boulevard to Congressmember Gary Ackerman’s office in an effort to obtain his support for Tiny Speculator Tax.