Tag Archives: Bill de Blasio

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Monday: Cloudy with periods of rain. High 56. Winds W at 5 to 10 mph. Rainfall near a half an inch. Monday night: Cloudy. Low near 35. Winds NNW at 10 to 20 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas

This holiday season, the imaginative, playful, and creative film and television work of Jim Henson will be celebrated by the Museum of the Moving Image in the screening series “Jim Henson’s World.” On Monday at 1 p.m. the museum will screen “Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas.” This television special tells the story of Ma Otter and her son Emmet, who both secretly enter a talent contest to win money for Christmas presents for each other. The screenings also includes Kermit the Frog’s segments, as well as outtakes and behind-the-scenes footage. There will also be screenings at 1 p.m. Dec. 26- Jan. 1. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Record-setting warmth continues as temperatures hit 70s

Record-setting temperatures around 30 degrees higher than usual were recorded throughout the tri-state area this weekend. Read more: NBC New York

Bill would increase suspended license penalties

New legislation will be introduced Monday to make it a more serious crime to drive with a suspended license after a Queens boy was killed by a truck driver who should not have been on the road. Read more: New York Post

Micro-apartments planned in NYC can lead to major psychological problems: report

Micro-apartments could lead to major psychological problems, a report shows. The city plans to build a residential tower of apartments between 250 and 370 square feet at 225 E. 27th St. in Manhattan. Read more: New York Daily News

De-Blasio announces new head of Childrens Services

A woman born and raised in the Bronx, has been tapped as the next head of Childrens Services for New York City. Read more: Fox New York

Israel bus bombing prompts NYPD to beef up security across city

The NYPD is beefing up security across the city following a bus bombing in Tel Aviv, Israel. Read more: AP

On eve of inauguration, Bill de Blasio faces high voter expectations: poll

As Bill de Blasio prepares to take the oath of office as New York’s 109th mayor, a poll shows the voters who awarded him a landslide victory are now expressing high hopes about his coming administration, showing that in politics, great promises come with great expectations. Read more: NBC New York

Prayer vigil held to rally for Sandy victims whose homes are in disrepair


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Jean Ferrara-Rodriquez is living in a construction zone 14 months after the superstorm destroyed her West Hamilton Beach home.

“We are struggling from day to day,” said the single mother of a 14-year-old girl. “It’s been way too long of a process and way too slow.”

Faith in New York, a city-based, interfaith federation, hosted a prayer vigil outside Ferrara-Rodriquez’s home on Wednesday to rally for Sandy victims still suffering from the superstorm and call upon Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio and the new administration to make recovery a top priority.

De Blasio has spoken publicly about his vision to rebuild resilient communities and strengthen the city’s infrastructure following Sandy’s impact.

The floor, walls and windows of Ferrara-Rodriquez’s ground floor were replaced after Sandy, but a draft from the cold outside air can be felt close to the walls, and the windows offer little insulation, she said.

Repairs have been going on since February, but the 14-year West Hamilton Beach resident has a long road ahead. The floor and walls are still bare, wires and nails are visible and she has no appliances. Food and other items are dispersed throughout the first floor, and her refrigerated items are kept close to the wall so they can be kept cool by the draft.

She applied to Build it Back in August but said she has yet to hear anything from the city’s storm recovery program.

“It’s been two holiday seasons,” she said. “I’m just asking where are the funds we were promised, and why has it taken so long.”

Ferrara-Rodriquez evacuated her 164th Road home before the storm and moved from friends’ houses to a homeless shelter and finally to the Comfort Inn on Cross Bay Boulevard where she lived for 93 days.

She moved back to her damaged home in February, where she and her daughter lived on the second floor without heat. She said Rapid Repairs, the government-sponsored program to give storm victims immediate assistance, installed a boiler, which froze over and broke. The heat was fixed this season for the colder weather.

“We have lived in devastation, isolation and [have] seemingly been forgotten in this slow process of recovery,” said Father Fulgencio Gutierrez of St. Mary’s Star of the Sea parish in Far Rockaway at Wednesday’s vigil. “Our communities cannot wait another year.”

 

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Melissa Mark-Viverito says she has support to become next City Council speaker


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo via NYC City Council Flickr/Official NYC Council Photo by William Alatriste

Councilmember Melissa Mark-Viverito is claiming she will have enough votes in the City Council to become its next speaker.

In a statement issued Wednesday night, Mark-Viverito, who represents District 8, said she has the backing of 30 councilmembers and councilmembers-elect, including Queens members Daniel Dromm, Julissa Ferreras, Daneek Miller, Donovan Richards, Eric Ulrich and Jimmy Van Bramer.

“I am humbled to have the support and confidence that my colleagues have placed in me. Today is the culmination of over two decades of my work at the grassroots, in non-profit organizations, in labor and as a public servant. I know that my fellow members will work with me in the City Council to create more inclusive legislative body where every member’s voice is heard and validated,” Mark-Viverito said.

She will only need the support of 26 members, when the vote for speaker takes place on Jan. 8.

Mark-Viverito received the backing she needed when Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio convinced Brooklyn Democratic Chair Frank Seddio to support her, according to published reports.

But her remaining opponent, Councilmember Dan Garodnick, isn’t giving up, and called her statement “premature,” reported Politicker.

The Queens councilmembers issued the following statements in support of Mark-Viverito:

Daniel Dromm
“I am proud to have been one of NYC Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito’s earliest supporters. Having a bright, dynamic, independent and committed progressive as the leader of the Council is truly exciting. Mark-Viverito will continue to be a voice for the voiceless. Her connection to the people is her greatest strength. I congratulate her on her victory as the next Speaker of the NYC Council. This is a great day for New York City!”

Julissa Ferreras
“I’m proud to be helping to elect the first Latina Speaker of the New York City Council. Melissa is a friend and an impressive leader. I look forward to working with her to move our community forward, improve our schools, create good jobs and improve green spaces. Today is a great day for all New Yorkers.”

Daneek Miller
“I know and am thrilled with Melissa Mark-Viverito as our speaker and lead voice. We share common interests I know the council will move forward with a progressive voice.”

Donovan Richards
“Melissa Mark-Viverito has been a staunch advocate for the families of Southeast Queens and New York City for decades,” said Council member Donovan Richards. “Whether it was fighting for progressive issues such as paid sick leave days or reforming stop & frisk, she has continuously been on the front lines for our communities. This is why I stand with her in support of her candidacy to become the speaker of the New York City Council.”

Eric Ulrich
“I want to congratulate my colleague Melissa Mark-Viverito on winning a hard-fought race for Speaker of the City Council. I am happy to be part of a diverse coalition of councilmembers and look forward to working with them in a bipartisan fashion on behalf of the working and middle class families in my district and throughout the five boroughs.”

Jimmy Van Bramer
“I am enormously proud to vote for a progressive and the first Latina to lead our great body. I am equally proud to elect a woman, who as Co-Chair of the Progressive Caucus, a body I have stood with since day one, has dedicated her life to ending injustice in all its forms including discrimination and violence against the LGBT community. The unending struggle for a more just city continues, and working together with Mayor-Elect de Blasio, I know our best days are ahead of us.”

 

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De Blasio to live in Gracie Mansion


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Jim.henderson

The de Blasios are moving out of Brooklyn and into Gracie Mansion.

After much speculation, the mayor-elect announced Wednesday through his Transition 2013 website he would live in the Manhattan digs during his time heading the city.

“It’s a tough decision. Brooklyn is our home and Park Slope is our neighborhood. And we love these places. In many ways, they’ve come to define who we are,” de Blasio said in a statement on the site.

“For a variety of reasons, like logistical and security concerns, we’ve decided to move to Gracie Mansion. It’s a practical choice but one that we make with respect and gratitude for the people of New York City.”

One reported reason the family was considering staying in Brooklyn was the commute his 16-year-old son Dante would need to take to Brooklyn Technical High School.

But the de Blasios won’t be leaving Brooklyn behind.

“Even while we move to Gracie Mansion for a spell, we’ll be keeping our home in Brooklyn and stopping by our favorite spots like The Purity Diner and Bar Toto as often as we can. And don’t bet against seeing us at the Park Slope YMCA occasionally,” de Blasio said.

 

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De Blasio names Bill Bratton next NYPD commissioner


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo via Flickr/Policy Exchange

In a much anticipated move, mayor-elect Bill de Blasio named Bill Bratton as the city’s top cop  on Thursday, promising to “heal the wounds” caused by stop-and-frisk.

“He has combined the best of tradition and the best of innovation in an extraordinary career of achievement,” de Blasio said.

This is Bratton’s second run as commissioner, following his first stint from 1994 to 1996 under Mayor Rudy Giuliani. He will replace Raymond Kelly, who has had the top cop spot since 2002.

De Blasio’s campaign platform sat staunchly against the controversial police tactic and made it clear he would not keep Kelly.

“We’ve seen an approach that has too often alienated communities,” de Blasio said. “This has caused a lack of partnership between police and community.”

Now, he said we need to “heal some of the wounds and reopen communication between police and community.”

Bratton, 66, said one of his goals is to bring these groups together “in a collaboration where there is mutual respect and there is mutual trust.”

“We need to ensure that police are not the flashpoint for disruption, disturbances and anger,” he said. “It [policing] must be done compassionately. It must be done consistently.”

Bratton was long-rumored to be de Blasio’s pick along with NYPD Chief of Department Philip Banks and First Deputy Commissioner Rafael Pineiro.

The police veteran with nearly five decades experience is coming from a run as the Los Angeles Police Department’s chief from 2002 to 2009. He also 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.

“Bill Bratton is the leading national voice of community policing, of a progressive and proactive approach to policing, focusing on the collaboration between police and community,” de Blasio said.

 

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De Blasio appoints Anthony Shorris as first deputy mayor


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo by Lauren Epifanio

Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio announced the first appointees to his staff, naming Anthony Shorris as first deputy mayor.

“I don’t think I know anyone who has this range of experience and achievement, and who will be able to work with all elements of the government seamlessly because he has done such an extraordinary range of work,” de Blasio said at the announcement on Wednesday, December 4.

Shorris is a “veteran of public service,” with experience as finance commissioner, deputy chancellor for operations at the Department of Education, executive director of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey and senior vice president, vice dean and chief of staff at New York University Langone Medical Center.

De Blasio additionally credited him with being a “central architect” of former mayor Ed Koch’s administration’s affordable housing program.

“This is a guy who does not need any warm up,” de Blasio said. “I am absolutely confident in his ability to deliver on the core agenda that I’ve developed.”

Shorris reiterated de Blasio’s vision of universal pre-K, addressing the affordability crisis, income equality, lifting wages and police reform.

“It’s a pivotal moment in New York,” he said. “This is a moment of opportunity.”

The mayor-to-be also named Dominic Williams, formerly chief of staff in the Public Advocate’s office, as Shorris’ chief of staff and Emma Wolfe, de Blasio campaign manager and political director, as the director of intergovernmental affairs.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Monday: A mix of clouds and sun. High 49. Winds light and variable. Monday night: Partly cloudy. Low 38. Winds NNE at 5 to 10 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: LEGACY: Photographs from Emily Fisher Landau’s Gift to the Whitney Museum of American Art

LEGACY: Photographs from Emily Fisher Landau’s Gift to the Whitney Museum of American Art at the Fisher Landau Center for Arts in Long Island City. The collection includes 419 works, namely installations, sculptures, drawings, photographs, etc. by numerous key figures in contemporary American Art. FREE. Exhibition hours are Thursday through Monday, noon to 5 p.m. The Fisher Landau Center for Arts is located at 38-27 30th Street Long Island City. Through March 31. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Queens resident killed in Metro-North train derailment

A Queens resident was one of four people who died Sunday morning when a Metro-North train derailed in the Bronx, according to published reports. Read more: The Queens Courier

Bill de Blasio to meet Sheldon Silver, Democrats key to his tax hike plan

Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio will pay a visit Monday to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s annual holiday luncheon for his Democratic members, the Daily News has learned. Read more: New York Daily News

Crackdown on subway beggars straining NYPD resources

The NYPD is cracking down on subway panhandlers — and sources said the initiative is taking precious manpower away from preventing iPhone thefts and shoving incidents, The Post has learned. Read more: New York Post

Higher tolls take effect on NJ-NY crossings

Motorists are now paying more to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey when they drive from New Jersey into New York City. Read more: NBC New York

Activists gather in Times Square for World AIDS Day

A throng of activists rallied in Times Square Sunday to commemorate the 25th World AIDS Day. Read more: CBS New York

 

 

Queens helps with de Blasio transition


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy the Long Island City Partnership

Queens is taking part in Transition NYC.

Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio announced the appointment of 60 leaders and experts to his transition committee on Wednesday, November 20.

“My charge to the transition team is to identify women and men from every part of our city and walk of life that share a commitment to progressive and competent city government,” said de Blasio. “They will be advising me based on their wealth of experience and knowledge of specific issue areas and government agencies.”

The Transition NYC team members, who will be volunteering their time during the transition, include several leaders from Queens organizations and institutions.

They are Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer, executive director, Queens Council on the Arts; Udai Tambar, executive director, South Asian Youth Action; Elsie Saint Louis, executive director, Haitian-Americans United for Progress, Inc.; Dr. Marcia Keizs, president, York College, The City University of New York; and Jukay Hsu, founder, Coalition for Queens.

“I am honored to be contributing to the creation of a new administration, a team New Yorkers can be proud of,” said Krakauer in a post on the Queens Council on the Arts website. “And to do that I will look to you, the creative citizens of this amazing borough, for your ideas and thoughts to bring back to the big table.”

Queens also took part in the new administration’s transition through two panel discussions that were held at the de Blasio Talking Transition Tent in downtown Manhattan on Friday, November 22.

“Thrive in Queens,” hosted by The Noguchi Museum, the Queens Economic Development Corporation and Long Island City Partnership, focused on the creative sector of the borough.

According to The Noguchi Museum Director Jenny Dixon, who moderated the first panel, they also spoke about “the need for greater marketing dollars and better public transportation,” and requested that the de Blasio administration “affirm the borough of Queens through an inclusive agenda weighted equally for all of the five boroughs.”

“A great gathering of Queens folks were in the audience and similarly a great group of Queens’ economic drivers were represented on the panel,” said Dixon.

“We hope what we have to say will be heard.”

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Tuesday: Cloudy. Highs in the low 40s with temperatures nearly steady overnight. Tuesday night: Periods of rain. Rain becoming heavy at times overnight. Low around 40. E winds at 10 to 15 mph, increasing to 20 to 30 mph. 1 to 2 inches of rain expected.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Classical Music Concert

The Tuesday Morning Music Club of Douglaston presents a program with live piano, guitar and voice, followed by a sandwich lunch and dessert Douglaston Community Church at 11 a.m. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

De Blasio: Landslide win is ‘clear mandate’ for education reform

Bill de Blasio says his landslide in this month’s New York City mayoral election entitles him to support from Albany to enact sweeping reforms to the city’s schools. Read more: CBS New York/AP

City launches new campaign against sugary drinks

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene on Monday launched a new anti-obesity campaign, focusing on the risks posed by sugary drinks. Read more: CBS New York

NYPIRG proposes campaign donation limits

A government watchdog group is calling for strict limits on money individuals and corporations can give candidates in state elections. Read more: AP

Reagan letter tops auction of Ed Koch items

Letters from former President Ronald Reagan and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis were the most popular items Monday at an auction of materials that belonged to ex-Mayor Ed Koch. Read more: NBC New York

Storm to threaten holiday travel, moving east

A winter storm system that hit parts of Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas swept toward the densely populated East Coast on Tuesday, threatening to disrupt the plans of travelers ahead of the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Read more: AP

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Friday: Overcast with rain showers. High of 61. Winds from the WSW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 60%. Friday night: Overcast with a chance of rain. Low of 37. Winds from the WNW at 5 to 20 mph. Chance of rain 50%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Fall Festival: Free Film Screening and Community Health Fair

Come to a free community health fair and film screening of “A Place at the Table” with special guest Joel Berg Harvest Room in the Jamaica Market from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to bring canned goods for a Thanksgiving Food Drive. Snacks from the Jamaica Farmers’ Market will also be provided! Sponsored by the Neighborhood Hunger Network. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Mayor Bloomberg: Mayor-Elect de Blasio to get balanced budget

For the first time in decades, an incoming New York City mayor will not face a budget deficit. Read more: CBS New York/AP

NYPD asks bars to not serve ‘SantaCon’ participants

There may be a little less “jolly” in Santa’s sleigh this year, at least if the NYPD has its way. Read more: ABC New York

Weprin goes to bat for Mariano Rivera street

At least one candidate for council speaker is going to bat for Yankee great Mariano Rivera. Read more: New York Post

NFL embraces possibility of snowy Super Bowl

Instead of shrinking from the possibility that football’s ultimate game could be played in a blizzard, organizers of the first outdoor, cold-climate Super Bowl have decided to embrace the snow as the game’s unofficial theme. Read more: NBC New York

JFK assassination remembered 50 years later

Fifty years after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, thousands will mark the day with a solemn ceremony in Dealey Plaza, through which the president’s motorcade passed when shots rang out. Read more: AP

Weprin vies to become next Council speaker


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

It’s off to the races for six legislators looking to become the next City Council speaker.

Councilmembers Melissa Mark-Viverito, Inez Dickens, Dan Garodnick, James Vacca, Anabel Palma and Mark Weprin are vying to replace incumbent-Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who is term-limited.

Quinn was voted to lead the Council, the city’s de facto second most powerful office, in 2005.

Weprin, the top Queens candidate in the race, was elected to the Council in 2009 after 15 years in the Assembly. He is campaigning on a promise that he will not run for higher office and is not term-limited in 2017.

“I am not running for the mayor of the City of New York,” Weprin told The Courier. “I can spend all my time being the best speaker I can be. I think one thing that has been lacking in previous speakers is they have all been running for higher office.”

Mark-Viverito, an ally to Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, is considered a top contender for the seat.
Candidates have been taking part in forums throughout the city, though councilmembers will internally vote on a new speaker January 4.

 

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Majority of Queens schools score well on progress reports


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

The majority of Queens schools scored high on the Department of Education’s (DOE) recently released progress reports.

Out of the 62 Queens high schools that were issued 2012-2013 progress reports, 31 earned As, 16 Bs, 6 Cs, 5 Ds and 4 Fs.

The highest scoring institution was Long Island City’s Academy for Careers in Television and Film, which just moved into a new building at the beginning of this school year. It received an overall score of 100.9.

Flushing High School, Pan American International High School in Elmhurst, Frederick Douglass Academy VI High School in Far Rockaway and August Martin High School in Jamaica earned overall failing grades.

Progress reports were issued for 239 Queens elementary and middle schools. Fifty-eight of them earned As, 97 Bs, 74 Cs, nine Ds and only one, Springfield Gardens’ Community Voices Middle School, failed.

Waterside School for Leadership in Rockaway was the highest ranking Queens middle school, with an overall score of 90.3, and P.S. 203 Oakland Gardens was the top-rated elementary school in the borough, with an overall score of 86.5.

Across the city, the DOE found public school performance “remained consistent, with 87 percent of schools maintaining their grade or moving one grade compared to last year.”

The reports are based on students’ progress, performance, attendance and surveys of parents, students and teachers. High school progress reports also measure college and career readiness.

According to the DOE, more students are graduating from high school ready for college and careers.

The reports found that the four-year college readiness rate is up nearly 3 points since last year.

“The most important job of our schools is ensuring students are on track to succeed in college and their careers,” said Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott. “These results are further evidence that the hard work of our teachers and principals is paying off.”

This year’s school progress reports were the last ones issued during Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s tenure.

They could see some changes when they are issued under the Bill de Blasio administration.

“While Mayor-elect de Blasio supports making overall school progress reports available to parents, he would eliminate letter grades of schools which offer little real insight to parents and are not a reliable indicator of how schools are actually performing,” his spokesperson Lis Smith said.

To find a specific school’s progress report, visit http://schools.nyc.gov/ProgressReport.

 

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Street Talk: What would you like the de Blasio administration to do differently?


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

street talk

They should change the manner in which they do stop-and-frisk, not get rid of it all together. Crime has dropped; why do away with it?
Catherine Vodola

I’d like to see de Blasio keep his promises! I’d like him to be the better-man; better than all of the cynical nay-sayers. He should keep our public schools open, take care of our neighborhoods and put an end to minority targeting that goes on in the stop-and-frisk procedure.
Sharia Jones-Bey

I would like them to bring our real estate taxes down.
Rob Brtmandracchia

I hope he makes borough healthcare services more accessible. Everyone from every walk of life deserves the best care possible.
Emily Miao 

I’d like to see him continue Bloomberg’s successful programs. He should continue focusing on education. He’s rather inexperienced; hopefully he’ll gain insight on the job.
Dean Zias

It would be great if he could think of some road and mass transit projects to ease traffic/congestion on city highways. He should also do away with traffic light cameras; I think there are better ways to raise money for the city.
Keith Dennis

I want the crime rate to stay where it is. The de Blasio administration should let the police do their jobs. We have to keep New York City safe!”
Bill Delawski

I hope the new mayor will enable children from all over the city, equal opportunities. I also hope he will continue programs that protect and support children.
Heather Blackman

BY RACHEL LANDAU

 

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LIC, Astoria best bet for hailing green cabs


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Taxi & Limousine Commission

Queens taxi riders have the best shot at hailing a green cab in Long Island City and Astoria.

Nearly 900 new apple green cabs roam the northwestern edge of the borough, according to data from the Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC).

City officials said more than 1,000 borough taxis have hit the streets since the first fleet of its kind rolled out in early August.

“Borough taxis have quickly proven themselves to be immensely popular, with almost 300,000 rides having already taken place,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who proposed the plan in 2011. “The new taxis have been a hit with both riders and drivers, and they will become an increasingly common sight in communities that previously lacked taxi service.”

LIC and Astoria, near the western part of the Ravenswood Houses, have 223 wheelchair-accessible green cabs and 675 standard ones, TLC data shows.

The area also includes the strip of land bordering the East River, the Queensbridge Houses and a portion of the neighborhood north of Queens Plaza and west of Northern Boulevard.

“They are all over the place in Long Island City and Astoria,” said passenger David Gutierrez.

“They’ve just become part of the community.”

The 31-year-old LIC resident, who cruises to Astoria in a green cab for business almost every day, said he has no trouble spotting one.

“I like the green color,” he said. “You definitely can’t miss them.”

Neighborhoods with the lowest number of green cabs include Flushing, Far Rockaway, Forest Hills and Middle Village, according to TLC data. There is at least one street hail livery base in each of those regions but no licensed green cabs listed.

Heather Bartone of Astoria said Steinway Street is a “green cab central,” but she is often left stranded in Flushing, where she works.

“I rarely see any in Flushing, so instead I have to take a regular taxi back home,” said Bartone, 41.

City officials announced Tuesday a new website called www.borotaxis.org, created to let New Yorkers suggest new green cab locations.

The new taxis are licensed to pick up street hails anywhere in the city, except in certain parts of Manhattan and at airports.

They charge the same fare as yellow cabs and must also have taximeters, a TLC permit number, credit card machines, roof lights and rate information printed on its front driver and passenger doors.

The TLC said it has already finished selling its first 6,000 borough taxi licenses allotted this year.

However, Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has been a staunch opponent of the new taxi plan, going so far as to say he would fire Taxi & Limousine Commissioner David Yassky, according to reports.

Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., who chairs the Public Safety Committee, said the commission has not yet cracked down on pockets of illegal hail activity as promised.

“It seems the green cabs are just sitting outside train stops with livery cabs that are still illegally picking up passengers,” he said. “That wasn’t the deal.”

A TLC spokesperson said the commission would soon beef up enforcement after more than doubling its field strength over the past two years.

 

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Jackson Heights, Corona community marches for safer streets after traffic deaths


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

It was the final straw, and now the Jackson Heights and Corona communities are saying no more.

Family members of traffic accident victims, local elected officials and community members gathered Tuesday night to set off the inaugural action known as “Three Children Too Many.”

The group marched down Northern Boulevard, then 82nd Street, stopping to make statements about traffic control and give performances along the way. They then gathered on 79th Street and 37th Avenue to rally and remember young local lives that were cut short.

“You cope with this kind of thing and you feel terrible, sad, angry, but then there’s a tipping point,” said Laura Newman, one of the organizers of the march and resident of Jackson Heights. “We actually have to make it stop.”

Just a month before three-year-old Olvin Jahir Figueroa was fatally struck by an alleged drunk driver, Jackson Heights resident Luis Bravo, 19, lost his life in a hit-and-run in Woodside. In December of last year, 11-year-old Miguel Torres was killed as he tried to cross the street heading to school on Northern Boulevard.

In April Councilmember Daniel Dromm led the push to bring more slow zones to Jackson Heights, focusing on the side streets that meet Northern Boulevard.

“Three Children Too Many” calls on mayor-elect Bill de Blasio to choose a police commissioner who will make sure law enforcement for vehicular crimes is strongly enforced and demands more traffic calming zones, continued traffic safety education for local children, and action facilitators to lead the community towards greater safety.

“Safety is (Department of Transportation) DOT’s top priority and the agency participated in [Tuesday’s] event to highlight our shared goal of making streets safer for everyone using them,” said DOT spokesperson Nicole Garcia. “We also have been in touch with the local community, including the march’s organizers and elected officials to get feedback, share education materials and discuss ways to enhance safety at this intersection and the surrounding area.”

The agency is also looking at the signal timing at Northern and Junction Boulevards to determine if adjustments can be made, said Garcia.

Michelle L. Kaucic, community coordinator of the DOT’s Safety Education and Outreach, said the community needs to continue advocating for change and must also spread the word of not drinking and driving. The community and DOT need to work together to make the streets safe as possible, said Kaucic.

At the end of the march, participants held a moment of silence and a candlelight vigil honoring Olvin, Luis, Miguel and other victims, as family members spoke.

“Safe streets are not a luxury, it’s what we deserve,” said Councilmember Julissa Ferreras, who lost two of her best friends 20 years ago to a fatal traffic accident involving a drunk driver. “After losing several of our mothers, fathers, children and friends to fatal traffic collisions, we simply cannot tolerate to lose one more.”

 

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