Tag Archives: Brooklyn

110th Precinct shaves hair, raises funds for fellow officer


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

Lieutenant Patrick Welsh did not have to think twice when deciding to shave his long curls for fellow officer and friend, Sergeant Paul Ferrara.

Welsh, together with five other members of the 110th Precinct, including commanding officer Deputy Inspector Ronald D. Leyson, volunteered Thursday to shave their hair for Ferrara, who was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in January.

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“It’s all for a great cause , for Paul, for a fellow brother,” said Welsh, who has been growing his hair out since last September. “It wasn’t even a question, [Ferrara] is one of the most liked men in the precinct.”

Ferrara started his career in Brooklyn’s 81st Precinct in 1992 and then was promoted to sergeant in 2006 and assigned to the 110th Precinct. During his 22 years of service, Ferrera has been a 9/11 first responder and former anti-crime sergeant, and now serves as a counter terrorism supervising officer.

Ferrara’s diagnosis is currently being linked to what he, together with other first responders, faced at Ground Zero in 2001.

The 110th Precinct came together last month to start a fundraiser to collect money to help the 44-year-old NYPD officer and his family with medical expenses. Ferrara is married and has a 12-year-old son.

As part of the fundraiser, officers at the precinct, which encompasses Corona and Elmhurst, came up with the idea to “put a price on the commanding officer’s head” and have the officer with the highest donation shave Leyson’s hair.

Through a collaborative effort, the highest donation was $1,500 and Police Officer William Bahrenburg, who also shaved his hair and mustache, had the honor Thursday of shaving the deputy inspector’s hair.

“Like the police department does, we get together to help out one another,” Leyson said. “I’ve been on the job for over 20 years and there’s a lot of things that we complain about, but it is a family, when one of us is in need, that’s one thing this police department always does – step up.”

Police Officers Matthew Zimmerman and Thompson Wen, and Auxiliary Police Officer Chris Lui also volunteered to have their hair shaved in honor of Ferrara.

“It’s just the right thing to do. He’s always been there for me,” Wen said. “Hair grows back.”

So far, the precinct has collected a total of $40,000. The 81st Precinct has also contributed to the fundraiser.

“It’s the proudest I’ve been because none of this has to be done, but it’s getting done anyway,” Ferrara said.

The donations will be presented to Ferrara on Sunday, April 27 during a fundraising event at Lily Flanagan’s Pub in Babylon, Long Island.

Anyone interested in donating can mail or drop off a check at the precinct, located at 94-41 43rd Ave. in Elmhurst. Checks should be made out to the 110th Precinct General Fund, with “Sergeant Ferrara Fund” written on the memo line.

 

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Minibar app now available to western Queens residents


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Images Courtesy of Minibar

Western Queens residents can now have their favorite drink delivered to their door in under 60 minutes via a new app.

Minibar, which first debuted in Brooklyn and Manhattan in February, launched in Queens on Wednesday. The innovative app, available for free in the Apple store and servicing Astoria, Long Island City and Sunnyside, allows users to order wine and liquor with just the tap of a finger.

The app connects vendors with users based on zip code, and once a vendor is selected, a drop down menu, featuring available inventory at the local liquor store, shows up. The drinks are then placed in a cart and users can select an amount for delivery tips. Once the order , which requires a $25 minimum, is placed, an confirmation email is sent and the items are delivered in one hour or less.

“We are incredibly excited to launch Minibar in Queens, making home entertaining as seamless and easy as possible in these neighborhood within the borough,” Lara Crystal, Minibar co-founder and co-CEO, said. “With virtually everything available at your fingertips, it’s time to make alcohol just as easy to order to your home.”

Following legal age requirements for purchasing alcohol, Minibar users will have to confirm they are of legal drinking age before placing an order and upon delivery vendors are responsible for verifying IDs.

The app allows its users to indicate if the order is a gift. Upcoming features will also include personalized order suggestion based on previous purchases and recommendations on what foods to have with the drinks.

 

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LIC demands better communication over G train suspensions


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ File Photo

The Long Island City community is concerned a new string of subway shutdowns will bring more problems to residents and business owners.

The MTA announced the G subway line, which connects Brooklyn and Queens, will be shut down for five weeks, including weekdays and weekends, starting July 28, though full details of the closure are still being finalized.

Service will also be suspended between Nassau Avenue and Court Square.

Although the transit agency said there will be no scheduled suspensions on the No. 7 and L subway lines during the five weeks, Long Island City residents and business owners are concerned about the inconveniences the shutdowns will bring.

“It’s one thing after another. We just have to throw up our hands and ask what’s next from the MTA,” Senator Michael Gianaris said. “They make these decisions without asking the community for its input.”

The closures are due to Sandy-related repairs, which involve track, structural, signal and electrical component repairs and replacement work, the MTA said. The work was scheduled during this period because it is when the G train has the lowest ridership.

Sheila Lewandowski, co-founder and executive director of The Chocolate Factory Theater in Long Island City, said more commuters are using the line and she hopes the MTA will take the time to listen to their ideas for alternatives before July.

“There’s more and more people traveling within the other boroughs,” Lewandowski said. “It should not just be a talk down decision. There has to be communication. They need to be listening to their communities more.”

 

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G train to shut down between Brooklyn and LIC for five weeks


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ File Photo

Starting in July, G train riders are going to have to find a new way to get from Brooklyn to Queens.

The line will be shut down for five weeks, including weekdays and weekends, starting on July 28 with service suspended between the Nassau Avenue and Court Square stations, according to the MTA.

The closures are due to Sandy-related repairs, which involve track, structural, signal and electrical component repairs and replacement work, the transit agency said. The work was scheduled during this period because it is when the G train has the lowest ridership.

The full details of the service plan for this G line closure are still being finalized. During the five weeks, there will be no scheduled suspensions on the No. 7 and L subway lines.

Beginning this month, the No. 7 line is slated to be suspended for a total of 22 weekends this year.

Last July, the MTA shut down the G line for 12 weekends in order to make Sandy-related repairs. Although the agency provided shuttle buses during the suspensions, there was an uproar from local leaders, residents and business owners who said the shut down caused riders inconveniences.

 

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Artist behind 5Pointz banner hopes to open dialogue on gentrification


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Andy Kim

A duo of Brooklyn artists hope their recent stop in Long Island City will help open the door to a solution.

Artists gilf! and BAMN (By Any Means Necessary) collaborated on Sunday to put a large yellow caution tape, about 3 feet wide and a few hundred feet long, around the Jackson Avenue side of the building which was once home to 5Pointz, with the words “Gentrification in Progress.”

Gilf!, who just goes by her artist name, said it was sad to see the 5Pointz group fight for so long to keep the graffiti mecca alive and in the end just watch it be whitewashed. She believes small businesses are what bring character to New York City, and she has been speaking out against gentrification for a while.

The artist said she had been speaking with BAMN about wanting to create a piece for 5Pointz and following another one of her shows against gentrification, the duo made it to Long Island City.

“I hope people will talk about what gentrification means to them and if it’s something that affects them. And if it is, what are they willing to do about it,” gilf! said. “I use my art to facilitate the dialogue that I think is important or is being swept under the rug.”

She also said she hopes the piece, which was taken down about 36 hours later, will open a door for discussion and bring different people together to come up with an answer.

“If anywhere in the world is going to come up with a solution for this, it’s going to be New York,” she said.

After a long fight to save 5Pointz, years of art was erased overnight last year. The owners of the property on Jackson Avenue and Davis Street, the Wolkoff family, ordered the action to be taken in November. Rallies were held throughout that same month to save the site, including a gathering only three days before the whitewashing, requesting the building, with its art, be landmarked.

Since the whitewashing, the demolition process has slowly begun, with signs of asbestos removal crews at the location.

Although residents have called the city’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and 3-1-1 with complaints, a DEP spokesperson said that all work being done is in compliance with regulations.

Asbestos abatement is taking place on the side located at 45-50 Davis St. by contractors hired by the buildings’ owners. DEP inspectors issued one stop work order, for less than 24 hours, after an inspection on March 2, for minor corrections, said the spokesperson. The issues were corrected and the order was lifted the following day.

Since then, DEP inspectors have gone and supervised the work being done, as a normal procedure.

“We have been there a few times because we keep receiving complaints about it,” the DEP spokesperson said. “But everything has been in compliance there.”

 

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‘Gentrification in Progress’ banner appears on 5Pointz building


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER

Two artists are making sure their voices are heard as the demolition of the buildings that were once home to 5Pointz continues.

Artists gilf! and BAMN (By Any Means Necessary) collaborated to put a large yellow tape around the Jackson Avenue side of the Long Island City building with the words “Gentrification in Progress,” according to a Twitter post. The banner was reported on the site Sunday morning.

After a long fight to save 5Pointz, the LIC graffiti mecca, years of art was whitewashed overnight last year. The owners of the property on Jackson Avenue and Davis Street, the Wolkoff family, ordered the action to be taken in November. Rallies were held throughout that same month to save the site, including a gathering just three days before the whitewashing, requesting the building with its art be landmarked.

Since the whitewashing, the demolition process has slowly begun with signs of asbestos removal crews at the location.

 

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Rare skin infection outbreak tied to Chinatown seafood markets


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

FishHC1109_X_300_C_Y

The Health Department is warning customers of Chinatown seafood markets in Queens and other parts of the city about an outbreak of a rare skin infection.

Anyone who has handled live or raw fish or other seafood purchased at Chinatown markets in Queens, Brooklyn or Manhattan could be affected, the Health Department said Wednesday.

The infection is transferred through a break in the skin, such as a cut, and is caused by a bacteria called Mycobacterium marinum.

People are strongly advised to wear waterproof gloves when handling any raw seafood that may have come from these markets.

There is no risk from consuming food from the markets, according to the Health Department.

So far, 30 cases of the infection have been identified.

Symptoms include red, tender lumps or swelling under the skin of the hands or arms. People may additionally develop swelling or pain in their hands or arms and have trouble moving their fingers.

If you exhibit any symptoms or believe you may have been infected, see an infectious disease physician or dermatologist. You can also call the Health Department’s Bureau of Communicable Disease at 347-396-2600 and ask to speak with a doctor.

Treatment includes antibiotics and should begin right away.

When left untreated it can become a more serious infection that requires surgery.

 

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Queens laundromat theft tied to nine Brooklyn burglaries


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

396-14 BRS CW Pattern #5 from Incident #8

Three suspects are wanted in a two-borough burglary spree targeting laundromats, cops said.

The latest burglary took place about 3:10 a.m. Tuesday at Megawash Laundry on Merrick Boulevard near Anderson Road in Jamaica, according to police

The suspects are also connected to nine burglaries in Brooklyn between Jan. 19 and Feb. 22, the NYPD said. Those thefts included seven additional laundromats as well as two restaurants.

During each incident, the three suspects, all wearing masks and gloves, with one armed with a gun, enter the business and take money from the register as well as any customers, cops said.

There were no reported injuries during any of the burglaries.

Police describe the suspects as black males.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

 

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MTA announces Bus Time launch date for all Queens routes


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

As promised, the MTA is set to debut its live bus tracking service in all of Queens and the rest of Brooklyn.

The MTA will launch Bus Time, which allows riders to follow real-time location of buses through any web-enabled smartphone or computer via GPS, on March 9, the transit agency announced Monday.

Bus Time users can also text an intersection or street address to 511123 to receive a message listing local bus routes or find out information by using a smartphone with a QR-code reader. The QR-code is printed on the Guide-A-Ride schedules posted at bus stops.

The expansion adds more than 9,000 additional bus stops to the Bus Time system, according to the MTA.

Bus Time started serving all of Staten Island’s bus routes in January 2012. Bus Time was later expanded to include all Bronx and Manhattan routes as well as Brooklyn’s B63 and B61 lines.

 

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Corona immunization clinic set to close once again


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File Photo

It’s déjà-vu for two major immunization walk-in clinics as the city renews its plans to close the sites by the end of the month, according to union leaders.

In August, the City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) announced it would close the Corona Health Center, located at 34-33 Junction Blvd., and the Tremont Health Center in the Bronx. After community protest, the city temporarily stopped the plan and rescheduled the closing for the end of 2013.

Yet, after keeping the clinics open into the New Year with funds provided by the City Council, closures are expected for the end of February.

“The function of immunization is prevention,” said Fitz Reid, president of Local 768, a union representing health care workers. “It’s not just job protections, it’s to protect the children, protect the public.”

The closures are expected to severely limit access to free and low-cost immunizations for low-income and poor families, protecting them from diseases such as the flu, meningitis, Hepatitis B, measles, mumps, rubella and others.

The DOHMH also plans on cutting the hours of its STD clinics, according to union leaders.

Public employee union District Council 37 tried to hold a meeting with the Health Department, but said it was not productive as no immunization representative attended. The group now wants to schedule a new meeting with the hope of getting their concerns heard by the department’s newly appointed commissioner, Dr. Mary Bassett.

“We’re hoping that when she takes the reigns, we’ll be able to meet with her and have a productive meeting where we emphasize the importance of the clinics in the communities,” said Judith Arroyo, president of Local 436, United Federation of Nurses and Epidemiologists. “We’re just waiting for a response.”

According to Arroyo, the immunization clinics are necessary because they serve as the first step for immigrant families to learn about health care and begin immunization records for their children.

One of the major issues at hand is that every closure has been kept from the community, said leaders. Residents would then have to travel to the Fort Greene Health Center, located at 295 Flatbush Ave. in Brooklyn, the city’s only walk-in immunization clinic.

“I continue to oppose the closure of the Corona immunization clinic,” Councilmember Daniel Dromm said. “The Department of Health unfortunately has decided to keep their plans for the center in the dark. Residents need to have access to these services, including school children who are required to have certain shots before attending class.”

The DOHMH did not respond to requests for comment as of press time.

 

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Parents ‘grateful’ after missing autistic Rego Park 12-year-old found safe


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Updated 4:50 p.m.

An autistic 12-year-old boy who sprinted out of his Rego Park home Thursday was found safe in Brooklyn after a terrifying four hour search, police and family said.

Brandon Betancourt jetted out of his apartment complex on 66th Road near 67th Avenue about 7 a.m., police said.

“He just ran out,” said his father, Joe Betancourt. “He’s very fast. It’s hard to catch him. I’m just grateful he’s home.”

Police brought him to safety about 11 a.m., after a guidance counselor spotted him on the J train platform at the Broadway Junction subway station in Cypress Hills, about an hour journey from his home.

Brandon, who is incredibly smart, functions at a high level and knows his way around the city’s subway system, his father and neighbors said.

The boy also loves trains and has taken off a handful of times in the past, Joe and the building’s superintendent said.

“When I saw cops outside, I knew immediately,” the super said. “I told them to go to the subways.”

Joe said he fears his son does not understand the dangers of running away, even after the remains of Avonte Oquendo, the autistic 14-year-old who went missing in October, were found washed up in College Point two weeks ago.

“We try to tell him not to do this, especially after what happened to Avonte,” Joe said.

Avonte and Brandon are both from Rego Park. They were former classmates, though not at the Center Boulevard School in Long Island City, where Avonte was last seen leaving, Joe said.

“For parents of autistic kids, I want them to know they are runners. I don’t know what it is about that, but they tend to run,” Joe said. “Always be on alert.”

Though frightening, the situation is common, said Michelle López, who manages autism initiatives at Queens Museum. Similar scenarios are likely to increase as more families push for inclusion, she said. 

“We’re going to see more of these types of situations, where there will be a missing child with autism and people don’t know how to interact, when they see a wandering child who doesn’t respond to them,” she said. “It’s in everyone’s best interest to be aware now.”

Autism Speaks, a leading advocacy organization, urges parents to secure homes with battery-operated door alarms, alert neighbors and consider identification bracelets or tracking devices.

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer wants the Department of Justice to create and fund a program that would provide voluntary trackers for children with autism or other development disorders.

Councilmember Paul Vallone is drafting a bill, calling for a similar citywide program.

 

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Loehmann’s sets sails for “Going Out of Business” sales


| mmcgoldrick@homereporter.com

It looks like local landmark Loehmann’s won’t make it to 100. The premier upscale off-price specialty retailer – just seven years short of a century old – has announced its official “Going out of Business” sale.

Loehmann’s first opened in Crown Heights in 1921 when Frieda Loehmann made her rounds to high-end designer showrooms, turning overstocks, cancellations and samples into a discount shopper’s paradise – with a wholesale price. Often called a trendsetter of a time where women rarely played that role, Loehmann’s detail-oriented approach to discount retail set the standard for an industry to come.

The store soon moved to its flagship Duryea Place location, just off Flatbush Avenue in the heart of that strip’s shopping district.

“There is no store quite like Loehmann’s,” said Scott Bernstein, COO of SB Capital Group. “During its more than 90 years in business, the Loehmann’s name became synonymous with great quality and value.”

On Tuesday, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court approved an order authorizing a joint venture formed by SB Capital Group, LLC, Tiger Capital Group, LLC, and A & G Realty Partners, to conduct “Going out of Business” sales in each of the superstore’s 39 locations and 11 states across the country.

That includes its Sheepshead Bay outpost at 2807 East 21st St., which opened in the mid- 1990s, around the same time the store’s Duryea Place location shut its doors.

Loehmann’s also has locations in Chelsea and the Upper West Side in Manhattan, in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, and in New Hyde Park and Hewlett, Long Island.

It may be bittersweet, but savvy shoppers are about to be dealt more than just a sweet New Year’s sale.

“A sale of this nature in these stores will be historical,” said Bernstein. “With millions of dollars of inventory from some of the greatest names in fashion for women and men, the savings, even for Loehmann’s traditional customers, will be unprecedented.”

More than $65 million of current in-season inventory – as well as new arrivals – will be liquidated during the bittersweet “Going out of Business” sales, which begins Thursday, Jan. 9.

 

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Teen hijacks car after helping stranger dig it out of snow


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

An act of kindness quickly turned violent Saturday when a Brooklyn teen robbed his peer at gunpoint after first helping his victim dig his car out of the snow, police said.

Genero Placenia, 18, offered to help a 19-year-old male push his buried 2001 Honda Civic out of the snow in Ozone Park about 3:30 p.m., police said.

But once the vehicle was free, Placenia asked for a ride, then allegedly pulled out a 9mm High Point gun and robbed the driver of his iPhone 5, $60 and car, cops said.

Police later found and chased the suspect until he was caught at 115 Logan Street. By then, Placenia had ditched his gun and shed most of his clothes, including his shoes, police said.

The victim’s car was also found abandoned, lodged in snow again, at Logan Avenue and Atlantic Avenue.

The suspect was taken to Jamaica Hospital for treatment, police said. He was charged with robbery, resisting arrest and criminal possession of a weapon and stolen property.

 

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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 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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