Tag Archives: Bellerose

Despite criticism, local members say unions still needed


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYC District Council of Carpenters

For those alive today it’s difficult to imagine the American workforce without unions. They not only represent trades, such as brick layers and electrical workers, and teachers, but there are also unions for actors, postal workers, air traffic controllers and many other professions.

But many question their role in the workplace. They say years ago unions were necessary because there were few laws that protected employees. Others, however, say they are still needed to protect workers’ rights.

One of the most famous unions is the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Founded in 1903, it is one of the world’s largest unions, with 1.4 million members. As it says on the Teamster website, it represents “everyone from A to Z – from airline pilots to zookeepers.” Some other industries that have members in the union include food processing, rail, freight, and motion picture and theatrical trade.

According to the Teamsters Constitution, the union’s main purpose is to educate and organize workers so they can have a better standard of living and have a voice in the workplace.

John Sagona, 45, of Ozone Park, is a 25-year member of the union. He is also a second generation Teamster. His father was in Local 553 from the early 60s until the mid-80s. Sagona has been a member of the same Local, which represents workers in New York City, Long Island and Westchester County, since he began driving fuel oil delivery trucks for Petro.

Whether or not his father was a former member, he still would have joined the Teamsters, said Sagona.

“The unions can protect you,” he said.

That protection includes making sure members have medical benefits, pensions and paid vacations.

Unions are beneficial for both employees and bosses because benefits and better pay means harder, more dedicated workers, said Sagona.

Health insurance is a major reason that father of two Joseph Reilly, 45, of Bellerose, is a member of the New York City District Council of Carpenters, a regional council of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters. Reily is a 13-year member of Local 45, which covers Queens and some of Nassau County. He is also recording secretary of Local 45’ s executive board. Previously he was in the Teamsters electrical union.

When I didn’t work union I had no benefits,” he said. “I just saw the benefits the union members were getting and [they] didn’t compare to non-union,” he continued.

Those benefits follow him to each job whether it’s doing sheet rocking and framing at a school or installing cabinets, said Reily.

One union criticism that he has heard is that they are anti-American, but unions are part of America’s roots, he said.

The 13 colonies under British rule were like workers before unions, said Reilly, but then they united and fought for their rights.

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Stabbed MTA officer leaves hospital, eager to return to the job

A wounded Metropolitan Transportation Authority police officer was released from the hospital and headed home Thursday, one day after he was stabbed in the eye during a confrontation in Jamaica, Queens. Dozens of MTA and city police officers were on hand to applaud at Jamaica Hospital as Officer John Barnett was brought out in a wheelchair, with a hat pulled down over his eyes. Read more: [NY1] 

Four-alarm fire sweeps through Queens residential street 

More than a dozen firefighters sustained minor injuries battling a four-alarm fire in South Richmond Hill, Queens on Thursday. It started in a house on 112th Street on Thursday afternoon and spread to the surrounding houses. Authorities say about 175 firefighters worked for an hour and 20 minutes to extinguish the flames. Read more: [NY1]

Queens lifeguard Emily Harms hailed as hero after rescuing 11-year-old from drowning

She is 21 years old, looks more like a teenager and is hardly your typical vision of the heroic lifeguard. But Emily Harms from Bellerose, Queens is all that and more. An 11-year-old boy might not be alive if not for her heroism. CBS 2′s Scott Rapoport spoke with her Thursday and heard the remarkable story. Read more: [1010wins] 

‘Transfer’ schools offer at-risk students a chance to graduate 

For some Queens high school graduates this year, the commencement ceremony represents achieving the previously impossible. But the special schools that made it happen often are tarred with bad marks due to federal standards that overlook their value, school administrators and education experts say. Ryan Rodriguez, 19, of Corona, attributes his success to North Queens Community High School — what is known as a “transfer” school, which takes students who are at risk of aging out of regular high schools. Read more: [New York Daily News] 

Danielle Thomas Update: Ky. wake for Qns. executive 

Hundreds of mourners packed a Kentucky church yesterday to mourn a “small-town girl’’ who came to New York with big dreams, only to be murdered — allegedly by her lawyer boyfriend in Queens. Some 800 friends and family members wept as they filed into Centenary Methodist Church and surrounded the closed casket holding Weight Watchers executive Danielle Thomas. Read more: [New York Post] 

Scaffolding that malfunctioned in Queens wasn’t sanctioned 

The scaffolding that malfunctioned on Monday in Sunnyside leaving a worker dangling for dear life was not sanctioned, the Daily News has learned. The incident underscores a dark underbelly within the construction trade, a Queens lawmaker said Thursday. The city Department of Buildings issued a partial stop-work order at the 45th St. construction site and is investigating what caused the scaffolding to collapse, officials said. Read more: [New York Daily News] 

 

Queens communities facing brownouts


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Several Queens communities face a voltage reduction from Con Edison due to electrical equipment problems.

The 100 degree heat has many residents blasting air conditioners to stay cool.

Con Ed said the neighborhoods affected will have a 5 percent voltage reduction.  This was done in an effort to prevent a significant outage, a spokesperson from the company said.

There are about 20 individual  outages in Queens right now according to Con Edison’s outage map.

The reduction will occur in Bellerose, Cambria Heights, Floral Park, Forest Hills, Glendale, Glen Oaks, Hollis, Jamaica, Jamaica Hills, Laurelton, Middle Village, Queens Village, South Jamaica, Springfield Gardens and St. Albans.

Con Edison asked customers in these areas to conserve electricity and turn off nonessential electric equipment, such as TVs, computers, air conditioners, washers, dryers, and microwaves.

To report power outages or service problems visit www.conEd.com or call 800-75-CONED (6633). When reporting an outage, customers should have their Con Edison account number available, if possible, and report whether their neighbors also have lost power.

 

Student sold psychedelic sweets


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

An impromptu bake sale at a Queens middle school had students tripping and teachers flipping.

Twenty students at Intermediate School 208 in Bellerose were caught snacking and getting stoned on marijuana-infused brownies, provided by a fellow student who was selling the goods during school.

An eight-grade female whose identify was withheld because of her age, was allegedly responsible for distributing the psychedelic sweets. Her plan went up in smoke when the dean heard about the underground brownie business.

“This was a troubling incident,” said Department of Education representative Marge Feinberg. “As soon as the school learned about it they reported it to us and reached out to the parents of the students involved.”

Feinberg was unsure of exactly how much dough the student made. According to Feinberg, parents were notified and the students involved are now facing repercussions.

“We are bringing in a counselor to speak to the school community about substance abuse and prevention, and the students involved will face a disciplinary hearing,” said Feinberg.

According to the NYPD,police investigated the situation but no arrests were made due to a lack of evidence.

Officials from I.S. 208 denied comment on the situation as of press time.

Police seek missing Queens man


| brennison@queenscourier.com

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Police are asking for the public’s help in finding a man that went missing in Bellerose recently.

Winston Nunez was last seen at 8 p.m. on Friday, December 2 near Winchester Boulevard.

Nunez, 40, is 5-feet-6-inches tall, 138-pounds with a dark complexion, brown eyes and a beard.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime stoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

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.”

Queens Civic Congress Defends Creedmoor


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

The Queens Civic Congress (QCC), the umbrella coalition for more than 100 Queens civic organizations, congratulates Community Board 13 on its vote to oppose construction of two multi-story apartment buildings on the Creedmoor campus, adjacent to several low-density Bellrose neighborhoods.

QCC supports services for seniors and indeed supported development of low rise, low-density senior housing elsewhere on the Creedmoor site.  We are opposed to out-of-scale, non-contextual development that negatively affects built-out neighborhoods like Bellerose.  ICCC’s proposal, which seeks to effectively change the existing  zone to a higher density residential one, is clearly out of character with the nearby low density housing and just as clearly negatively affects its nearby neighbors – with nine-story buildings less than 50 feet from many one-family, one-story homes.

Without any public notice or hearing, the state sold the property to ICCC for far less than market value – an action that Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is investigating.

Queens residents should be especially wary of how ICCC acquired the Creedmoor property, which is state owned land. Creedmoor is not the only state-owned land in Queens.

The MTA – desperate for funds – owns train yards and bus depots across Queens.  In the past, developers have eyed both the Sunnyside Yards and the Jamaica Yards for high-density housing.

Now ICCC’s plan goes to Borough President Marshall for a hearing and her advisory opinion. 

QCC calls on Marshall to turn down ICCC’s plan and instead support the Creedmoor Master Plan, which calls for responsible development that will better serve Queens and the Bellerose community.

And we call on the Board of Standards and Appeals to reject this development, which will jeopardize a thriving community.

 

Patricia Dolan

President

Queens Civic Congress

 

 

 

 

Queens’ Morning Roundup – 11/04/2011: Queens Officials To Stand Against Swastika Graffiti


| jlane@queenscourier.com

The Round Up

Queens Officials To Stand Against Swastika Graffiti

Four swastikas showed up on the walls of the Jackson Heights branch of the Queens Library Thursday. At least one more was painted on the library branch in East Elmhurst, and another was etched on the door of a synagogue on 88th Street. Police believe the incidents in three separate locations are related. They are being investigated by the hate crimes taskforce. Local leaders plan to hold a news conference Friday to denounce this kind of hateful vandalism. Read More: NY1

 

‘Fresh Meadows Rules’ Facebook group unites former residents from around the world in Queens

More than 150 former Fresh Meadows residents reunited last week to celebrate the planned neighborhood many remember as a small utopia tucked away in Queens. The gathering, organized through a Facebook group called Fresh Meadows Rules, brought residents from all over the country and even overseas back to Queens to meet up with childhood pals and revisit local landmarks. Read More: Daily News

 

Melanie Webb, Long Island City woman, pleads guilty to shooting slay of her sister,Tara, on victim’s birthday

A Long Island City woman pleaded guilty Thursday to fatally shooting her sister on the victim’s 27th birthday.Melanie Webb, 25, also shot Tara Webb’s boyfriend, Terrell Carmichael, on March 26 in the Long Island City apartment they all shared, she admitted. A source close to the case said Webb shot her sister Tara in her bed and turned her gun on Carmichael, hitting him twice in the torso in the shower. Read More: Daily News

 

Queens high school students to help upstate NY rebuild after Hurricane Irene ravaged homes and businesses

Students at a Bellerose high school will soon get a lesson in what it means to build stronger communities — one nail at a time. The Habitat for Humanity club at the Queens High School of Teaching, Liberal Arts and the Sciences is raising money and supplies for a trip to upstate New York to rebuild homes damaged by Hurricane Irene. The group plans to partner with a yet to-be-determined Binghamton high school by the end of the year. It also plans to donate cleaning and school supplies. Read More: Daily News

 

FEMA extends deadline for Hurricane Irene victims

There’s a ray of hope for those affected by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee in August. On Oct. 31, the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced a deadline extension for individuals seeking disaster assistance. The new FEMA registration deadline is Dec. 15. Read More: Staten Island Live

News Briefs: Small Business Workshop in L.I.C.


| bdoda@queenscourier.com

LONG ISLAND CITY –

The Queens Economic Development Corporation will offer workshops and clinics for small business owners this fall. While the clinics are free, workshops will cost $25 in order to cover costs.

Topics covered will include networking, taxes, pricing and compliance with city regulations. The workshops and clinics will take place at the Entrepreneur Space at 36-46 37th Street in Long Island City from 6 to 8 p.m.

Speakers include Bianco Di Salvo, a professor in the marketing department at Fordham University, Gail Roseman, a partner at Sholom & Zuckerbrot Realty, LLC, and Susan Harkavy, an instructor on guerilla marketing at New York Designs.

For more information regarding scheduling, call 718-263-0546 or visit www.queensny.org.

Family Fright Night

FLUSHING –

The Flushing YMCA will hold their Family Fright Night on Friday, October 28 at 138-46 Northern Boulevard. Activities will include a haunted house, costume contest, face painting, dancing, spooky stories, carnival games and more. Call 718-961-6880 for more details.

Fall Festival

FLUSHING –

Councilmember Peter Koo and the Parks Department recently announced this year’s Fall Festival on Saturday, October 29 from 1 until 5 p.m. at the P.S. 20 playground (Union Street and Barclay Avenue). Activities will include free rides, games, pumpkin patch, live entertainment, karaoke and more. To sponsor this event, contact Judy Chen at 718-888-8747.

I.S. 178Q celebrates 16th Anniversary

FRESH MEADOWS –

Councilmember Mark Weprin addressed the students, parents, teachers, and fellow alumni who gathered at P.S./I.S. 178Q, the Holliswood School located at 189-10 Radnor Road in recognition of the school’s 60th anniversary.

“The Holliswood School has provided students with an outstanding education for six decades, and I know that it will continue to shine,” said Weprin.

Talent showcase at Cross Island Y

BELLEROSE –

Auditions are still open for this year’s “Y Kids Got Talent” live event to be held on Saturday, October 22 at 6 p.m. at the Cross Island YMCA, located at 238-10 Hillside Avenue. Anyone with acting, singing, dancing, acrobatics, marital arts or musical talent is encouraged to contact Jamé Cohn at 718-551-9314 or by email at jcohn@ymcanyc.org for audition scheduling information.

Chancellor speaks to ACA

ASTORIA –

New York City Public Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott was the featured speaker at the monthly Astoria Civic Association meeting.

Walcott answered a number of questions from teachers, students and parents from Astoria and other parts of Queens during the hour-long meeting, ranging from the Department’s no tolerance policy for bullying to exploring the possibility of implementing additional gifted and talented programs at Astoria’s middle schools.

The association meets on the first Tuesday of every month at Riccardo’s and features a new speaker and topic. The meeting time has changed to 7 p.m. For more information visit the Astoria Civic Association Facebook page, or call 718-545-5353.

Neighbors protest meat market


| mchan@queenscourier.com

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Neighboring residents of a local meat market in Bellerose rallied to shut the market down on Monday, September 19.

Dozens of angry nearby homeowners protested alongside New York State Senator Tony Avella outside the store. They said Super Halal Meat Market, located at 253-06 Hillside Avenue, defies building and health codes and severely impacts the neighborhood’s quality of life.

“It’s about two American dreams colliding,” said neighbor Jennifer Newsom. “He is here in America and he wants a business. We’re here in America because we want the American Dream of a home with a white picket fence — in quiet.”

Newsom, who lives two doors down, said that among “a lot of different things,” she’s concerned about the noise from the air conditioner, the smell from the garbage and meat and the traffic jams on the street.
“I’m sad that the community has come to this. Now we have a divide in the community where it doesn’t need to be,” she said.

According to the Department of Agriculture and Markets, Super Halal Meat Market has failed three inspections since they opened last October. During this month’s inspection, the market was pinned for two critical deficiencies. The meat in the cooler was not cold enough — destroying 162 pounds of meat — and flies were present in the meat processing area, said spokesperson Michael Moran.

“No matter who you are in this city or state, if you run a business, you have to be a good neighbor and you have to follow the law,” Avella said. “It’s clear the owner of Super Halal Meat Market thinks he can fail on both counts. He’s not a good neighbor and he’s not following the law.”

The market has also racked up over $25,000 in total violation fines from the Department of Agriculture and Markets, the Department of Buildings and the Environmental Control Board.

The fines have not been paid as of Monday, Moran said.

“There comes a point where you realize these people have no interest in resolving the complaints. I’ve decided it’s time to get the agencies to close them down,” Avella said.

Market owner Sheraz Khan said he is paying “pending fines” but still has to go to court for each violation. He said he has paid about $10,000 already.

“I never received any other bills. They were never fines. They were just warnings,” he said. “It’s pretty unfair. A lot of things have changed. We messed up in the beginning, but I’m fixing all the mistakes that were made. It’s not like I’m ignoring them. It doesn’t mean that we should be harassed.”

For neighbor Cecil Outram, besides the fact that traffic blocks the street and noisy trucks come “at all hours,” he said he doesn’t mind having the store across the street.

“It brightens the area in a way. They’re open 24 hours a day and I take the bus at 4 o’clock in the morning. It makes it safer,” he said. “They have to make a living too.”