Tag Archives: Bill de Blasio

Queens Library CEO appeals for more city funding


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Queens Borough Public Library

With a little more than a month until the city’s budget deadline, the Queens Borough Public Library is urging elected officials to make a much-needed investment in its system.

The Queens Library, along with the Brooklyn and New York public libraries, recently launched the “Invest in Libraries” campaign, which aims to engage New Yorkers in the debate and convince city lawmakers to provide an additional $65 million in combined funding in the 2016 fiscal year budget, which takes effect in July.

Queens Library’s Interim President and CEO Bridget Quinn-Carey outlined the campaign in an exclusive interview with The Courier Thursday. The Queens Library seeks an $18.2 million funding boost from the city, a drop in the bucket in a budget projected to meet or exceed $70 billion.

Should Queens Library receive the extra funding, Quinn-Carey claimed, it would restore the library’s funding level to that of 2008 and open the door toward adding more than 200 new jobs, expanding existing educational programs and restoring six-day service throughout the system. Since 2008, the library lost 20 percent of its funds, pared jobs and eliminated six-day service at two-thirds of its 62 branches.

Quinn-Carey charged that increasing library funds is a concept that aligns with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s efforts to increase economic opportunity for all New Yorkers.  For instance, the extra funds would enable Queens Library to expand its English as a second language program, which was held at 40 branches and proved so popular that some potential students were turned away due to a lack of available seats.

“This is really an investment not only in the traditional library system but also community engagement,” she said. “This is giving communities a greater chance of success.”

Additionally, the Queens Library is also seeking capital funds to renovate many aging, yet heavily used branches such as the Corona, Rego Park and Far Rockaway locations. De Blasio set aside $300 million in the city’s 10-year capital plan to renovate libraries, but Quinn-Carey noted the actual projected costs exceed $1.4 billion.

Quinn-Carey and the Queens Library have spent the better part of a year working to repair its image following a scandal centered around its former president and CEO, Thomas W. Galante. He came under fire early in 2014 after it was revealed that he collected a nearly $400,000 annual salary, ordered a six-figure renovation of his office and made other lavish expenses at a time when the library cut jobs and services due to funding cutbacks.

The library lost political and financial support, and local elected officials such as Queens Borough President Melinda Katz sought to change the library’s board of trustees after it resisted calls to force Galante out of office and fully open its financial books. Legislation enacted by the state in June empowered Katz and de Blasio to remove eight library trustees who supported Galante and resisted calls for full financial disclosure.

The board of trustees was stocked with new members by September, when it forced Galante into a leave of absence. Quinn-Carey was named as his interim replacement, and Galante was subsequently fired in December.

Quinn-Carey said she and the reconstituted board are working closely with the government to reform the library system. It engaged audit firms to assess the library’s risks and expenses. Steps were also taken to make the library more transparent; the library is now in compliance with the Freedom of Information Law and posts expense records on its website.

“These efforts and a reform of policies and procedures should reassure the public that the library is a great institution and still able to deliver these great services,” Quinn-Carey said.

Click here for more information about the Invest in Libraries campaign.

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City comptroller sends back Pan American shelter contract


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Plans to make the former Pan American Hotel in Elmhurst a permanent homeless shelter hit a roadblock Monday when City Comptroller Scott Stringer refused to sign a city contract for its operation.

The Department of Homeless Services (DHS) and the nonprofit group Samaritan Village previously agreed upon a five-year, $42.4 million contract formally establishing 79-00 Queens Blvd. as a permanent transitional housing shelter.

Stringer, however, sent the contract back to the mayor’s office as a result of concerns regarding conditions at the Pan American. The NY Daily News reported earlier this month that the shelter was suffering from vermin infestation. Last week, a fire also broke out in one of the units. There were no injuries reported, but the family in the affected unit was forced to relocate to another shelter.

The comptroller similarly voided a DHS contract for another shelter in Manhattan.

The comptroller vowed not to approve the contract until his office “receives assurances that anyone staying in these facilities will be safe” and “all outstanding violations and complaints have been corrected.”

“In March, the NYC Department of Investigation released a report that highlighted unacceptable living conditions in our city’s shelters and raised significant issues about how the Department of Homeless Services identifies and cures health and safety violations,” Stringer said in a statement. “We simply can and must do better on behalf of the 60,000 people, including nearly 25,000 children, who are under our care.”

The announcement came hours after Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in Corona the creation of an inter-agency shelter repair squad designed to find and correct any violations in city homeless shelters.

Stringer applauded the mayor for the announcement and added he is looking forward “to working closely with this group to meaningfully change the way the city procures and operates our homeless shelters.”

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Hoping for Lunar New Year holiday, lawmakers move to end Brooklyn-Queens Day


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/File photo

State lawmakers introduced on Tuesday a bill that would eliminate Brooklyn-Queens Day from the New York City public school calendar.

The measure sponsored by state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky aims to clear a day on the calendar to permit public schools to close for the Asian Lunar New Year in the winter. Brooklyn-Queens Day, which falls on the first Thursday of June, marks the foundation of the first Sunday schools in both boroughs during the 19th century.

For decades, local Protestant churches celebrated Brooklyn-Queens Day with parades through their communities, but the parades stopped in recent years as Protestant congregations plummeted. The last major Brooklyn-Queens Day parade took place in Ridgewood in 2009, ending a century-long tradition.

Nevertheless, schools in Brooklyn and Queens remain closed the first Thursday of June, but many of them use the day for staff development.

The bill states that “there is no reason to continue this anachronistic holiday in state statutes when there is pressure to increase the time students spend in school.” However, Stavisky noted, the elimination of Brooklyn-Queens Day gives the city Department of Education (DOE) flexibility in adding another holiday such as Asian Lunar New Year.

“As a former teacher, I understand the mayor and the Department of Education have a mandate to make sure students are receiving as much classroom instructional time as possible,” Stavisky said. “But educating our students and allowing them to observe important cultural holidays should not be opposing goals. I believe that removing the now defunct Brooklyn-Queens Day and replacing it with the Lunar New Year is a pragmatic solution that the mayor and the Department of Education must consider.”

Among those who joined Stavisky at a Tuesday press conference in Flushing in support of the bill were state Senator Daniel Squadron, Assemblymen Ron Kim and Edward Braunstein, Assemblywoman Nily Rozic and City Councilman Peter Koo.

“The history of Brooklyn-Queens Day demonstrates how observance of this day on the public school calendar has changed over the years to meet the changing demographics of our city,” Koo said. “Today, approximately 15 percent of our New York City public school students identify as Asian-American, and we must take this into consideration as we prepare the school calendar for future years.”

According to Stavisky’s office, city public schools in Asian-majority neighborhoods report absentee rates as high as 80 percent on Lunar New Year, which is “the most important cultural celebration on the Asian calendar.”

Earlier this year, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed legislation declaring two Muslim holidays, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, as school holidays beginning this September. Koo criticized the mayor in March for failing to grant the same holiday status for the Asian Lunar New Year.

Last December, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation granting the DOE greater flexibility to close schools on cultural and religious holidays. By law, all New York City public schools are required to hold at least 180 school days every year.

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City’s pot policy change divides Queens residents, pleases pols


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo via NYC Mayor Office's  Flickr

BY ASHA MAHADEVAN

Borough residents are on both sides of the debate over the city’s recent change in policy over marijuana possession arrests, while several local politicians see it as a progressive move.

“Historically, these types of arrests have disproportionately targeted poorer, young men of color,” Councilman Donovan Richards Jr., said. “Rethinking the administration’s approach to marijuana possession is a key to ending the misguided reliance on ‘stop and frisk’ and rebuilding the relationships between law enforcement and the communities they police.”

According to the new policy, if police find someone in possession of 25 grams or less of marijuana, officers will issue a summons instead of arresting the individual. The new policy, which comes into effect on Nov. 19, is not a blanket rule. The change is valid only if the person has identification and if no arrest warrant has been issued for him or her. Individuals carrying marijuana will still be subject to arrest if the type of possession indicates intent to sell, if the individual has an outstanding warrant, or if the individual is in certain locations such as a school.

Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras is also in favor of the change, calling it a move in the right direction.

“This policy change is one of many steps towards rebuilding those communities of color, like my own, that have been disproportionately jailed and suffered in the long term; it reflects the progressive, forward-thinking direction in which our city and this Council are moving,” she said.

Councilman Rory Lancman, who chairs the Committee on Courts and Legal Services, focused on the effect of the policy change on the overburdened legal system, saying that this change will allow prosecutors, judges and defense attorneys to concentrate on violent crimes. He added that he looks forward to “further reducing the over-policing in communities of color, and addressing the collateral consequences of even mere violations for undocumented immigrants caught in the criminal justice system.”

Queens residents were not as supportive, and even saw the change as potentially dangerous.

“It is not a good idea. There should be more rules covering this. What if someone is on a high and drives a car? This will add more dangerous people on the road,” Bayside resident Robert Posner said.

But others agreed with the looser punishment.

“It’s not right but I am OK with it,” Alda Gomez said. “So long as they don’t sell it or it is not a big amount or they are next to a school, if it is only for themselves, it’s okay.”

Jose Valencia believed it was a good start.

“Eventually law has to change towards legalization,” he said.

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Mayoral administration removes Success Academy Jamaica proposal


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

One thousand children need to find somewhere else to go to school come September.

These students had applied to Success Academy Jamaica, a new charter school that had been slated to open this fall, but now Mayor Bill de Blasio has axed the plan.

Before former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s term ended, he approved the co-location of Success Academy Jamaica with August Martin High School. The charter school would hold 200 kindergarten and first grade students and ultimately grow to a 500-student school, kindergarten through fourth grade.

But on Feb. 27, de Blasio withdrew this proposal, along with eight others citywide. Three Success Academy schools were canceled entirely. Success Academy founder Eva Moskowitz led a rally Tuesday in Albany, flanked by thousands of students, teachers and charter school supporters, opposing de Blasio’s decision.

“The previous administration handed over these proposals, and we have had to review all of them under inflexible deadlines,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “As enrollment deadlines approach, we considered the thousands of families that could be affected. Under the circumstances we inherited, [we] believe this is the best approach.”

The Department of Education (DOE) said it does “not believe new elementary schools should be opened on high school campuses.”

“Overall, we have heard concerns from high school communities, as well as elementary level ones, about this practice. We believe high school campuses should serve high school students,” DOE officials said.

Without the school, local youth can attend nearby schools P.S. 233, P.S. 45 and P.S. 354.

“More than 1,000 families have applied so far for a seat at Success Academy Jamaica,” said Kerry Lyon, a spokesperson for the charter school. “We will continue fighting to open this school and give those parents the high quality education they are demanding for their kids.”

 

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Mayor, city hope to fix pothole problems brought on by heavy snow


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

A record-breaking winter has left city streets in disrepair, with new potholes popping up every day.

In less than seven weeks, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has filled 27,000 potholes in Queens and 113,131 citywide – the “most potholes ever filled at this point of the year in the history of New York City,” according to Mayor Bill de Blasio.

To facilitate and accelerate the road repairs, the city has allocated an additional $7.3 million to the DOT.

De Blasio put on the neon DOT jacket and filled one hefty Maspeth pothole Thursday alongside DOT officials who detailed their new “comprehensive pothole and maintenance plan to make filling faster and more efficient.”

Starting this weekend, the DOT will begin repaving roads where “we need to go above and beyond,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.

They have additionally adopted new “cutting edge materials” and plan to partner with local engineering schools, national experts and the Department of Sanitation.

“This winter has been a challenge so far,” Trottenberg said. “We are not resting easy. We know there is going to be a lot more to do.”

The mayor said heavy snow over the past two months has brought “unprecedented” wear and tear to streets. The record snowfall brought upon an “intensified use of snow plows,” a freeze-and-thaw cycle on the streets, as well as increased salt-distribution, all of which have contributed to a significant number of new potholes.

“Winter 2014 has literally made it into the record books. It is a book we would like to close as quickly as possible,” de Blasio said. “This reality has caused us to have a performance level from the DOT we have never seen before.”

Fifty crews are working to fill the potholes, which take just a few minutes to complete depending on the crater’s size. The DOT primarily uses 3-1-1 complaints to target and repair streets.

 

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Star of Queens: Cristina Furlong of Make Queens Safer


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo via Facebook

COMMUNITY SERVICE

Following “too many” pedestrian deaths, Furlong and her group, Make Queens Safer, are trying to target reckless driving, one roadway at a time.

“Pedestrians sometimes don’t have the tools they need, they were never educated on the danger,” she said.

Her group is focusing on an education program, reaching out to everyone from the borough’s youth to local elected officials. The program includes a safe driver pledge for drivers to acknowledge patience and eliminate distraction while on the roads.

BACKGROUND

Furlong is a 10-year resident of Queens, currently living in Jackson Heights. She is an avid cycler and works as a tour guide for Bike the Big Apple, which provides bike tours through the five borough.

“As a cyclist, I’ve always been interested in safety. But when Laura [Newman, Make Queens Safer co-founder] posted a boy was killed by a drunk driver and put a call to action, I was 100 percent on board,” Furlong said. “We had to do something.”

FAVORITE MEMORY

“The best thing that’s come out of this is being able to support families who have suffered a lot,” Furlong said. “Mothers whose children were killed [by drivers], they have no place to go.”

After a vigil the group hosted for pedestrian victims, Mayor Bill de Blasio held a press conference in Queens to announce his vision of zero pedestrian fatalities, appropriately titled Vision Zero.

“That was a memorable thing,” Furlong said. “Of all places, he chose Queens, recognizing that we have the highest pedestrian injury rate in the city.”

BIGGEST CHALLENGE

For Furlong, the biggest challenge her group faces is getting people to change their consciousness about reckless driving, she said. They frequently stop drivers on the street to relay safe driving tips, and aren’t always warmly welcomed.

“But we need to establish a responsibility behind the wheel,” she said.

INSPIRATION

“I think inspiration comes from the people,” Furlong said, referring to parents, family members and friends who have lost loved ones due to reckless driving.

“They’re always available and working so hard with us. I want them to know, hopefully, we’ll change things,” she said.

 

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Mayor Bill de Blasio welcomes city to 2014 winter storm number six


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Cristabelle Tumola

Updated 9:15 p.m.

A state of emergency has been declared as the Nor’Easter storm targets the five boroughs.

“Welcome to winter storm number six of the last six weeks,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

De Blasio said the snow has come down “heavier and faster than the weather service had predicted last night.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency Thursday morning “so that we can continue to effectively respond to the storm and aid communities in need.”

Cuomo said the state is adequately prepared with salt supplies, and said snow is expected to fall throughout the day at two to three inches per hour.

Ten to 14 inches are expected by tonight, de Blasio said, but could be affected by a mix of freezing rain and sleet.

The mayor continued to urge drivers to stay off the road, and said mass transit is the best option.

For the Friday morning rush hour, the MTA expects to run normal subway service, but some express service may run local because of track conditions, the transit agency said. Buses should run at 80 percent capacity.

The Long Island Rail Road plans to operate at 90 percent of its normal weekday schedule, and is canceling 14 morning rush hour trains.

The Department of Sanitation pre-treated roads and began salting roadways at 3 a.m. Thursday morning. “Extra efforts” were made to address tertiary roads as well, de Blasio said.

To track plowing progress, click here.

Alternate side parking regulations and garbage and recycling pick-up is suspended through Saturday. De Blasio said trash pick-up won’t be “in earnest” until Tuesday.

To check the city’s progress or sign up for regular alerts, click here.

With additional reporting by Cristabelle Tumola

 

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EXCLUSIVE: No snow day forces Bayside HS kids to spend day in auditorium


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

MELISSA CHAN AND MAGGIE HAYES

A shortage of teachers at Bayside High School, after this year’s biggest snowstorm so far, forced students to spend the day in the gym and auditorium.

“We just wasted a whole day,” said senior Ibrahim A. “It’s pointless to be here when we’re not doing any work.”

After students reported to school Wednesday at 8 a.m., school officials found they didn’t have enough teachers to monitor all of the students, according to parents and students.

They were then told to call their parents to pick them right back up again.

“There had to be 35, 40 parents on line waiting to get their kids,” said Michele M. who grabbed her 15-year-old daughter around 11 a.m. “What was the point of opening up?”

Michele’s daughter and multiple students said at least 40 teachers were absent.

“More than half of my teachers didn’t even come, and more than half that did didn’t even get to teach,” said Jane, a freshman. “I just sat in the auditorium and watched Iron Man 2. I slept through most of it.”

Another freshman said he walked into school around noon and a dean told him to go home.

Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina made the call to keep schools open around 11:20 p.m. the night of the storm, Tuesday, Jan. 21.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who participated in the decision, said the National Weather Service “made clear that just as the snow had intensified earlier, it was slowing very noticeably around 10 p.m.”

“It was clear at that point we would have a much better situation by morning,” he said. “We knew we could do a good job overnight of clearing the streets.”

Despite de Blasio’s confidence, Ibrahim said there were barely any teachers and students at school the next day.

They were kept in the auditorium and “just walked out” before noon.

The Department of Education did not immediately respond to request for comment.

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Mayor de Blasio announces paid sick leave expansion


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo via witter/@NYCMayorsOffice

More New Yorkers could be protected from losing their jobs for taking a day off when they or their family members are ill.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced legislation Friday that will extend the right to paid sick leave to businesses with five or more employees, which expands on a law enacted by the City Council.

The announcement was made at Esmeralda’s Restaurant in Bushwick, Brooklyn, a business that is part of a coalition supporting paid sick days.

Speaking at the announcement was the restaurant’s owner, who already provides her employees with paid sick leave and has seen its benefits, as well as Leonardo Hernando, a car wash worker from Queens.

Hernando, a father of four, has lived and worked in the U.S. for nine years and has never once had a job that provided paid sick days. He said he cannot take a day off because it will mean he won’t have enough money for his family.

With the new legislation, he will no longer be in that situation.

“Families will be more stable and secure, because they have paid sick leave coverage,” de Blasio said.

Under the expanded legislation, about 500,000 more New Yorkers, 200,000 of whom do not currently have paid sick days, will now have the right to paid sick leave, according to de Blasio.

The City Council enacted the New York City Earned Sick Time Act on June 27 in a 47-4 vote, overriding then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s veto of the legislation.

According to that bill,  beginning in April, businesses with 20 or more employees will be required to give at least five paid sick days per worker each year. Starting in October 2015, businesses with 15 or more workers will have to do the same.

“While that legislation was a good start it was not nearly enough,” Mark-Viverito said.

The new legislation would take effect for all business with five or more employees starting this April. De Blasio said he believes the legislative process will move quickly so it can be enacted by that time.

The law also removes exemptions for the manufacturing sector, and adds grandparents, grandchildren and siblings to the definition of family members, and cut out legislative red tape that could have delayed paid sick leave.

 

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Mayor de Blasio welcomes thousands to Gracie Mansion


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Twitter/@NYCMayorsOffice

Mayor Bill de Blasio welcomed thousands of New Yorkers to Gracie Mansion Sunday, giving them a tour of the historic building he called the “People’s House.”

“It’s been a pleasure sharing the inauguration with residents from all five boroughs,” the mayor said, “and I can’t think of a better way to end the week than by spending it with New Yorkers.”

Guests were greeted with tunes from Make Music New York — a nonprofit group, featuring Grammy-nominated opera singer Christopher Dylan Herbert — and the New York City Housing Authority Youth Chorus.

Tickets for the open house, distributed online, quickly sold out last week.

A long line wrapped around the future home of the de Blasios at the corner of 88th Street and East End Avenue beginning about noon, according to the NYC Mayor’s Office Twitter account.

 

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Mayor de Blasio shovels snow at Park Slope home


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/@BilldeBlasio

Even the mayor of New York City shovels his own snow.

Mayor Bill de Blasio was hard at work outside of his Park Slope, Brooklyn home Friday morning shoveling snow from the sidewalk.

The newly-inaugurated mayor, tweeted a photo of himself shoveling, along with a message promoting the city’s PlowNYC feature, which posts online real-time updates of the Department of Sanitation’s snow clearance operations throughout the five boroughs.

In an interview with NY1 Friday morning, de Blasio gave some tips on how to shovel.

“Don’t lift with your back, lift with your knees,” he told NY1.

He also said his 16-year-old son Dante, who, as a junior at Brooklyn Technical High School, has the day off from school, would be helping with the snow clearing, NY1 reported.

A short time later that morning, the teen made an appearance in front of the media and shoveled and salted his home’s walkway.

At a press briefing on the storm Friday, the mayor said his son “was not an early riser,” but had now contributed to the clearing of the city’s sidewalks.


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De Blasio swears in Bill Bratton as NYPD Commissioner


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo via NYC Mayor's Office Flickr

The city’s Police Department has officially changed hands.

Mayor Bill de Blasio publicly administered the oath of office to Bratton, 66, at Police Headquarters Thursday afternoon after he was officially sworn in as NYPD Commissioner during a private ceremony at Police Headquarters just after midnight on Jan 1.

Speaking before administrating the oath, de Blasio declared that the City of New York was in good hands with Bratton, dubbing him “the greatest police leader anywhere in the land.”

“Bill Bratton at his essence is a progressive crime fighter,” the mayor said.

This is Bratton’s second time as the city’s top cop. He previously led the NYPD from 1994 to 1996 under Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Bratton replaces Raymond Kelly, who had been commissioner since 2002.

Bratton was also the Los Angeles Police Department’s chief from 2002 to 2009, and served as the Boston police commissioner before first coming to New York.

During his time with the NYPD, Bratton created tactics that are credited with cutting the steep crime rate in half, including COMPSTAT and real-time crime analysis.

“Who says you can’t come home again? And it is home and it’s great to be back,” Bratton said after taking Thursday’s oath.

Bratton promised under his watch policing in the city would be done constitutionally, respectively and with more collaboration.

He also vowed to bring more trust between New Yorkers and the NYPD, asking why in a city where the police have done so much to keep their citizens safe, “people don’t feel good about a [police] department.”

Bratton, who was long-rumored to be de Blasio’s pick along with NYPD Chief of Department Philip Banks and First Deputy Commissioner Rafael Pineiro, was appointed by de Blasio on Dec. 5.

De Blasio ran for mayor on the promise to reform the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practice, and again pledged to “reform a broken stop-and-frisk policy” in his inauguration speech Wednesday.

Though Bratton promised to “heal the wounds” caused by stop-and-frisk at his appointment announcement, critics are concerned over de Blasio’s selection of a commissioner who they call the “widely-credited ‘architect’ of stop-and-frisk.”

New Yorkers Against Bratton, who made the statement, planned a protest Thursday outside of Police Headquarters, following de Blasio’s swearing-in of Bratton.

“We are committed to opposing Bratton’s return as NYPD Commissioner. We ask that the mayor remove Bratton immediately and work with the community in selecting a commissioner that will signify a break from the past-not a continuation of it,” the group said in an email announcing the protest.

-With additional reporting by Maggie Hayes

 

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De Blasio sworn in as 109th mayor of New York City


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos via NYC Mayor's Office Flickr/Official Photos by New York City Mayor's Office

Updated 1:30 p.m.

The Bloomberg era has ended and the de Blasio administration has begun.

New York City’s 109th mayor, Bill de Blasio, was sworn in during a ceremony at his Park Slope, Brooklyn home just after midnight Wednesday, followed by a formal inauguration on the steps of City Hall later that day.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman officiated the New Year’s Eve oath of office, which was also attended by the mayor’s wife Chirlane McCray, daughter Chiara and son Dante.

“From the beginning, this has been our family together reaching out to the people of this city to make a change that we all needed. I want to thank you for having brought us to this moment,” de Blasio said after taking the oath in front of his home.

“To everyone this is the beginning of a road we will travel together,” he added.

Former President Bill Clinton swore in de Blasio on the steps of City Hall with a bible once owned by former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

De Blasio previously served as a regional director in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development during the Clinton administration and managed Hillary Clinton’s 2000 U.S. Senate campaign. Both endorsed de Blasio for mayor in the general election.

Before administering the oath, Clinton said it had been a “great joy” for his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and him to see de Blasio’s progress “because he has served with such passion and because he represents with his family the future of our city and the future of our country.”

Telling New Yorkers “our work begins today,” in his inauguration speech de Blasio pledged to expand the pay sick leave law, require big developers to build affordable housing, stem the tide of hospital closures, reform a broken stop-and-frisk policy and ask the wealthy to pay a little more in taxes to provide universal, full-day pre-k and after-school programs for middle schoolers.

“We won’t wait, we’’ll do it now,” he said.

“Let me be clear: When I said I would take dead aim at the tale of two cities, I meant it. And we will do it.” he added.

A thousand tickets were reserved for the general public to attend the public swearing-in ceremony, with de Blasio pledging that it would be an “inauguration for all New Yorkers.”

Several dozen New Yorkers from across the city were additionally invited to join the mayor on stage. The group included a Queens engineer who emigrated from Bangladesh, according to de Blasio.

Mayor de Blasio takes the subway with his family to his City Hall inauguration.

Queens resident and the 2014 New York City Youth Poet Laureate, Ramya Ramana, read an original poem at the inauguration, which she dedicated to de Blasio.

Ramana, a first generation Indian-American, grew up in the borough and recently won the New York Knicks’ Poetry scholarship to St. John’s University, where she is a first-year student, according to the mayor.

Letitia James, who is succeeding de Blasio as public advocate was also sworn in at City Hall Wednesday. The councilmember is the first woman of color to hold citywide office. Scott Stringer, Manhattan Borough President since 2006, was sworn in as city comptroller, replacing John Liu.

 

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De Blasio to be sworn in at Brooklyn home in private ceremony


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

Bill de Blasio will ring in the New Year in his Park Slope home by being officially sworn in as the 109th mayor of New York City.

As is tradition, the swearing in will take place during an intimate ceremony just after midnight on Jan. 1. State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman will officiate,  de Blasio announced Monday night.

The private event will be attended by the incoming mayor’s wife Chirlane McCray, daughter Chiara and son Dante.

The public can watch the event live online at NYC.gov, and photos will be posted to the Mayor’s Office Flickr page.

“We are excited to share this important moment with the people of New York,” said de Blasio. “From live-streaming the midnight swearing-in to reserving tickets for the general public to the ceremony at City Hall, Inauguration 2014 will be open and accessible to people from across the five boroughs.”

De Blasio will be sworn in later that day in a public ceremony at City Hall by former President Bill Clinton.

 

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