Tag Archives: City Council

Woodside street renamed after former Councilman Walter McCaffrey


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

Woodside came together Saturday to honor a man who officials call the “great son” of the western Queens neighborhood.

Local politicians, community leaders and residents celebrated the life of former Councilman Walter McCaffrey during a ceremony in which 61st Street on Woodside Avenue was renamed “Walter McCaffrey Place.”

“The late Walter McCaffrey will never be forgotten,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who introduced legislation into the City Council to rename the Woodside street, where McCaffrey once had his district office. “A Woodsider till the end, Walter never stopped advocating for his neighborhood and this district, setting a high bar for all elected officials who followed him in office.”

McCaffrey, who passed away last July at 64 years old, was born and raised in Woodside, and served as councilman of the 26th District from 1985 to 2001. Before being elected to the Council, McCaffrey served as chair of Community Board (CB) 2.

“Here we are to honor the life and legacy of [Walter], the person who did so much for our city, so much for our community,” said Joseph Conley, chair of CB 2, during the renaming dedication. “And as Walter taught me and many people here today, there was no greater exercise in life than to reach out your hand and help somebody.

While in the City Council McCaffrey also served as chair of the Zoning and Franchises subcommittee, and was on the Land Use, Finance, Public Safety and Transportation committee.

Friends, colleagues and others who were at the street renaming ceremony remembered the late councilman for his sense of humor and devotion to serving the residents of western Queens.

“The dedication of Walter McCaffrey Place is a fitting tribute to a selfless public servant who was synonymous with the Woodside community,” Congressman Joseph Crowley said. “Walter fought for the people of Queens with great passion, leaving behind a legacy of advocacy and accomplishment that improved the lives of middle class families across the city.”

 

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Bills introduced to City Council to help individuals with developmental disorders


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

A package of bills was introduced to the City Council Friday with the hope of preventing a tragedy similar to the disappearance of autistic teen Avonte Oquendo.

The 14-year-old was last seen at the Center Boulevard School in Long Island City across the street from the East River in October, when he ran out, past school security. Almost four months later his remains were found washed up in College Point.

The City Council’s Mental Health and Public Safety Committee held a joint hearing Friday where the four proposals, all aimed to avoid dangers to individuals with autism and other developmental disorders, were presented.

“We’ve had several tragedies in the last couple of years in New York City, so it’s always heartwretching when we do legislation that reacts to tragedy, but on one hand it helps us to make sure these tragedies never happen again,” said Councilman Ruben Wills, who spearheaded the group of bills in the City Council together with Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson.

One of the bills calls upon the state’s Office for People with Developmental Disabilities to include the use of GPS tracking devices as a covered service.

The package also includes legislation that would create a voluntary registry for people with special needs. The database, including names, addresses, phone numbers, medical conditions and more, would allow parents or guardians to register their children with the NYPD at local police precincts.

The other two bills call for the city’s silver alert program to include missing people with developmental disorders and for the U.S. Department of Justice to fund any projects that would help protect and locate missing people with autism.

“We know that [Avonte’s death] was an unspeakable tragedy and certainly we are here as a collective to prevent anything like that from occurring across our city,” Gibson said.

For Lauren Thierry, Avonte’s disappearance hit close to home because her 16-year-old autistic son, Liam, attends the New York Child Learning Institute in College Point.

The past two years, Thierry has been creating a clothing line, called Independence Day Wearable Tech, which makes clothes that include internal pockets to fit GPS devices. Customers get a free GPS device when they purchase an item.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Wednesday: Partly cloudy. High 59. Winds NW at 20 to 30 mph. Wednesday night: Mainly clear skies. Low near 40. Winds NW at 20 to 30 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Unwelcomed Words: Nazi Anti-Jewish Street Signs

Spring exhibition curated by Harriet and Kenneth Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center Scholar-in-Residence Rabbi Isodoro Aizenberg. In Germany, beginning in 1933, Nazis implemented anti-Jewish instructions and practices in order to segregate the Jews. This exhibition focuses on public signs that relentlessly degraded, harassed, offended, hurt, and curtailed Jewish life in Germany before the outbreak of World War II. The exhibit includes photos of Nazi-style restrictive signs posted in German occupied lands, as well as testimonies of people who were personally affected by the prohibitions that these signs proclaimed. Center is open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

NYPD social media outreach backfires when Twitter rebels against #myNYPD solicitation

An NYPD social media campaign backfired when the police department asked New Yorkers for photos with cops and Twitter erupted with unflattering pictures of officers making arrests, tangling with citizens and in some cases wielding their weapons. Read more: NBC New York

Pool planned for city river would float in the water

Taking a dip in a potential future pool might also help make New York City greener. Read more: am New York

NYC rents skyrocket as incomes lag

Already-too-damn-high New York City rents are increasing more quickly than those in other parts of the nation — threatening to make apartments here downright unaffordable for those in the lowest income brackets, a new report says. Read more: New York Post

Airbnb fights NY attorney general’s subpoena

Renting out someone’s apartment is an easy way to get an inexpensive place to stay if you’re a tourist, and cheaper and more convenient than most hotels. Read more: Fox New York

City public school kids may get free lunch in proposed budget

The City Council’s proposed budget to be unveiled Wednesday will push for two big priorities: free lunch for all public school kids and 1,000 new cops. Read more: New York Daily News

Queens Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Wednesday: Sunny. High 61. Winds NW at 10 to 20 mph. Wednesday night: Clear skies. Low 39. Winds NNW at 10 to 20 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Forested

Amanda Loulaki flirts with fragmented time, imagery, empty space, non-linear narrative and the extremities of a movement’s physicality. The work contains a series of vignettes incorporating autobiographical elements while presenting the body as a container of history, and the space as a container of the body. At the Chocolate Factory Theater in LIC through Saturday, April 12.  Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Chick-Fil-A expanding into New York City: report

A southern fast food staple as famous for its CEO’s controversial stances as it is for its fried chicken sandwiches is set to open dozens of restaurants in New York City, according to published reports. Read more: NBC New York

Council to introduce bill for ID cards for undocumented NYers

The City Council is scheduled to introduce legislation on Thursday to create municipal ID cards for undocumented New Yorkers — following through on an initiative pitched by the mayor during his February State of the City speech. Read more: New York Post

NYPD to update training and policy on responding to fires

Speaking from the Police Academy’s C Deck, where recruits perform and practice formation tactics, Commissioner Bill Bratton said that moving forward there will be a new focus for part of training to become an NYPD officer: responding to fires. Read more: Fox New York

Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito seeks extra $5 million for NYC Council 

The New York City Council apparently wants to go on a spending spree — on itself. Read more: CBS New York

Toyota recalls 6.39 million vehicles

Toyota Motor Corp. is recalling 6.39 million vehicles globally for a variety of problems spanning nearly 30 models in Japan, the U.S., Europe and other places. Read more: AP

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Tuesday: Becoming partly cloudy after some morning light rain. Fog early. High 66. Winds SW at 20 to 30 mph. Chance of rain 70%. Tuesday night: Partly cloudy skies. Low 41. Winds WNW at 10 to 20 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: New York Meets Istanbul – An Exhibition of Charcoal Drawings

Meliksah Soyturk’s “New York Meets Istanbul” is an exhibition which brings the above words to life…. transporting us, through the Artist’s eye, through time and space, to another Continent. Through his work, he is bringing together two of the most wonderful cities in the world and two vastly different, yet undeniably similar cultures. At Flushing Town Hall through Sunday, April 13. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Queens cab driver arrested in West Hempstead hit and run

A cab driver from Queens is under arrest and facing charges in connection with a hit and run on Long Island. Read more: ABC New York

Sen. Smith’s fraud and bribery trial set for June

A federal judge on Monday ordered state Sen. Malcolm Smith’s fraud and bribery trial to begin June 2, quietly rejecting the powerful Queens Democrat’s bid to push the date back a few months so he could smoothly seek re-election. Read more: New York Post

EXCLUSIVE: Average woman in the city earns 82 cents for man’s dollar, controller study shows

It’s still a man’s world — even in progressive New York City. Read more: New York Daily News

City Council plans 10 percent raise in its budget

Belt-tightening is out and free spending is in at the City Council, which plans to increase its own budget by more than 10 percent in a single year — six times the rate of inflation. Read more: New York Post

NTSB: Engineer in fatal Metro-North derailment has ‘severe obstructive sleep apnea’

Federal investigators have found that the engineer at the controls of the Metro-North train that derailed and left four people dead and dozens more injured has a serious sleep disorder. Read more: CBS New York/AP

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Monday: Rain and snow showers this morning. Then becoming partly cloudy this afternoon. High near 55. Winds N at 15 to 25 mph. Chance of rain 70%. Monday night: Clear skies. Low 34. Winds N at 15 to 25 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: The Kaleidoscope

“The Kaleidoscope” starts at 8:00 p.m. at The Creek and the Cave at 10-93 Jackson Ave. in Long Island City. The Kaleidoscope is an experiment where friends and strangers get together and perform. Four improvisers create teams with whom they have never performed and will never exist again. Like a kaleidoscope:, every time you look you will see something different. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

New York City Council to hold hearing on Superstorm Sandy recovery

Members of the de Blasio administration and people affected by Superstorm Sandy are expected to speak Monday morning at a City Council oversight hearing. Read more: CBS New York

Report: Unpaid tolls rose on no-cash NYC bridge

The amount of uncollected tolls on a New York bridge skyrocketed after electronic E-ZPass systems replaced all cash toll lanes, according to a published report. Read more: NBC New York

With pre-k fight behind him, de Blasio to shift focus to affordable housing

Now that state lawmakers have closed a budget deal to fund prekindergarten in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio is ready to turn to the next items on his sweeping liberal agenda. Read more: CBS New York/AP

Bratton raps Kelly and Bloomberg on stop and frisk

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton turned on the city’s former leaders Sunday, saying the department had a terrible morale problem when he took over because of the way his predecessor, Ray Kelly, and former Mayor Bloomberg used stop-and-frisk. Read more: New York Post

Obamacare website down as deadline arrives

People trying to apply and enroll for private health insurance through Obamacare before Monday’s midnight deadline are discovering the website is “currently unavailable.” Read more: NBC News

City Council rejects Whitestone sidewalk cafe bid


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

The City Council unanimously struck down a controversial bid for a Whitestone sidewalk café Wednesday.

Owners of Nonna’s Pizzeria & Trattoria wanted to wrap an outdoor sitting area around their 22-30 154th St. Italian restaurant.

But a handful of neighbors said the proposal would bring excessive noise and take away parking spaces.

Lawmakers said the sidewalk is also not wide enough and too close to residential homes.

“The impact of this victory should ensure all future applicants make every effort to address the concerns of the community board and neighboring residents,” Councilman Paul Vallone said.

Restaurant manager Joe Lobue recently told The Courier the outdoor area would have let customers kick back and enjoy a meal in the sunshine.

The restaurant’s lawyer, who was in court Wednesday, did not immediately reply to a call for comment.

 

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Flushing Town Hall completes $1.2M renovation


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Flushing Council on the Arts

Follow me @liamlaguerre 

 

The historic Flushing Town Hall has a new look.

The theatre and event space fully reopened on Friday, March 14, after a five-month, $1.2 million interior renovation.

The makeover will freshen up the venue after more than a dozen years of use. The Flushing Town Hall building is more than 150 years old, and it has been an active theatre for 35 years. Its last renovation was completed in 1999.

“After 15 years of extensive wear and tear on the building it was time to upgrade and to renovate,” said Ellen Kodadek, executive director of Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts, which operates the Hall.

The money for the renovation was partly funded by former Borough President Helen Marshall, various Queens City Council members and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

The makeover includes new flooring in the hallways and the gift shop, a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system (HVAC) throughout the building, and new floors and chairs in the theatre, which seats 308. The theatre’s movable risers were also replaced. Just like the old risers, the new ones will allow the theatre to transform at will.

“We are capable of taking the seats and the risers out and setting the room up so that it doesn’t look at all like a theatre, but you could do a wedding or a banquet or leave room for salsa dancing,” Kodadek said. “And that’s something very special and different about our theatre. Many theatres don’t have that capability.”

Flushing Town Hall hosts about 75 performances around the year, including jazz concerts, theatre plays, educational events for children, puppetry, dance, art galleries and workshops. They’ve also rented out the space for special events, including weddings and school graduations.

On the same day it reopened, The Queens Courier donated $1,500 to Flushing Town Hall, from money that was raised at the annual Rising Stars event. The money will be used to foster educational services for underprivileged students.

 

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Tuesday: Sunny. High 42. Winds ENE at 10 to 20 mph. Tuesday night: Clear skies. Low 31. Winds ENE at 10 to 15 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Elton John’s The Million Dollar Piano

Showcase Cinemas is excited to bring Sir Elton John to select theaters for “The Million Dollar Piano.” Captured live from his residency at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, “The Million Dollar Piano” features all of Elton’s greatest hits from throughout his legendary career PLUS an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the making of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Starts at 7 p.m. at College Point Multiplex Cinemas. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Dream Act fails in New York Senate 

In a controversial vote, the New York Senate rejected a bill Monday that would have opened state tuition aid to students living in the United States illegally, dashing long-held hopes of immigration advocates. Read more: CBS New York/AP

Fatal NYC bus crashes skyrocket

Fatal city bus crashes have recently soared, according to new data. Read more: New York Post

City Council proposal would give unpaid interns right to sue for sexual harassment, discrimination

A measure under consideration by the New York City Council would give unpaid interns some of the same rights as paid workers. Read more: CBS New York

De Blasio plans to sign paid-sick leave bill this week

Mayor de Blasio said Monday he won’t delay a bill forcing businesses with as few as five workers to provide five paid-sick days a year to their employees. Read more: New York Post

GM recalls1.18 million SUVs for air bag issue

General Motors issued a new recall of 1.5 million vehicles Monday, part of an effort to assure buyers that it’s moving faster to fix safety defects in its cars and trucks. Read more: AP

 

Bill could make community boards go digital


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Follow me @liamlaguerre


It’s possible that the city’s community boards could be coming into the digital age.

Councilmember James Vacca, chair of the Committee on Technology, held a hearing for his bill recently that would require community boards to webcast their full board meetings.

At the hearing, members of the community boards and civic organizations raised questions about the complexity of implementing the law, because each board will have to learn to use the broadcast equipment. Also, funding for the equipment and the ability to webcast from various locations could be problematic for the community boards.

But Queens leaders of local civic organizations that already use the Internet to connect with residents support the bill.

“People don’t come to a meeting because they need to pay a baby sitter to watch their kids,” said Kathy Masi, president of the Glendale Civic Association, which doesn’t hold meetings in person, but is “cyber-civic” by utilizing Facebook. “James Vacca is on the right track. If you can’t get people, because their lives are busy, to bring that meeting on their computer is really great.”

The bill is still being reviewed in the technology committee.

 

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City drops suit over anti-profiling law


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

As part of a series of reforms to the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday the city is dropping a lawsuit that prohibits “bias-based” profiling by police officers.

The legislation, known as Local Law 71, was passed by the City Council in August after overturning a veto by then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

It bans using race as well national origin, color, creed, age, alienage or citizenship status, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or housing status as the “determinative factor in initiating law enforcement action.”

In September, the Bloomberg administration challenged Local Law 71 in court.

De Blasio, said, in a release, that in dismissing the suit it demonstrates his commitment to unite police with the community and respect resident’s constitutional rights.

“There is absolutely no contradiction in protecting the public safety of New Yorkers and respecting their civil liberties. In fact, those two priorities must go hand-in-hand,” he said. “No New Yorker should ever face discrimination based on the color of his or her skin. We are going to be explicit in setting fair and effective standards that prevent bias in any form.”

The law allows individuals to sue to stop bias-based profiling by law enforcement, but does not permit monetary damages.

“This law protects individuals in our communities against bias-based profiling, said Zach Carter, the city’s top legal counsel. “At the same time, police officers acting within the scope of their duties and in conformance with NYPD guidelines will be represented by the law department, in accordance with the law.”

 

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City Council passes paid sick leave expansion


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Rob Bennett for the Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio

The City Council has approved a law that would grant thousands more workers the right to paid sick leave.

It will be the first piece of legislation Mayor Bill de Blasio will sign into law.

“From waitresses and dish washers to store clerks and car wash workers, New Yorkers across the five boroughs will finally have legal protection to a basic right that so many of us take for granted each day – and employers will benefit from a stronger and healthier workforce,” de Blasio said Wednesday, following 46-5 the passage.

In January, de Blasio and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced the legislation, which will extend the right to paid sick leave to businesses with five or more employees.

Under the law, about 500,000 more New Yorkers, 200,000 of whom do not currently have paid sick days, would have the right to them, the mayor said last month.

The legislation expands on the New York City Earned Sick Time Act, enacted by the City Council in June.

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

The new legislation would take effect for all business with five or more employees starting this April also. The law passed Wednesday 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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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Wednesday: Light snow this morning giving way to partly cloudy conditions this afternoon. High near 30. Winds WNW at 15 to 25 mph. Chance of snow 50%. Snow accumulations less than one inch. Wednesday night: Clear skies. Low around 15. Winds N at 5 to 10 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Mid-Winter Taste for City Harvest

This food tasting event at  Resorts World Casino showcases over 30 food purveyors, and all proceeds will benefit City Harvest. Entry at 7 p.m. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

NY Assembly passes Dream Act providing tuition aid

New York’s Assembly passed a bill Tuesday that would open state tuition assistance programs to students in the country illegally, and now the measure moves to an uncertain future in the Senate. Read more: AP

NYC Council follows mayor’s Lead, steps away from St. Patrick’s Parade

New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said the council won’t have an official presence at this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade because of rules that prevent gay and lesbian groups from identifying themselves while marching. Read more: CBS New York/AP

New Yorkers favor letting cities boost local minimum wage

A new statewide poll shows a large majority of New Yorkers support giving municipalities authority to raise the minimum wage locally, something Gov. Cuomo opposes. Read more: New York Post

NY Assembly contracts for $210K outside counsel on sexual harassment policy

The state Assembly has entered into two contracts worth $210,000 for an outside counsel to handle sexual harassment policy development and investigations after a high-profile scandal. Read more: NBC New York

Snow likely every day for the next 3 days, then again on the weekend

Snow is likely to fall every day for the next three days as arctic air settles over the tri-state region, where it will stick around through the weekend. Read more: NBC New York

 

Queens lawmaker wants fire hydrants tagged with markers


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Councilmember Mark Weprin

All New York City hydrants should be tagged with high-flying flags to be spotted more easily during snowstorms, a Queens lawmaker is proposing.

Councilmember Mark Weprin is reintroducing legislation this March that would require markers be placed at least three feet above hydrants.

The bill, first introduced in 2011, would help firefighters quickly pinpoint nearest hydrants that are buried in the snow, Weprin said.

It would also help homeowners locate and dig them out faster and keep motorists from accidentally parking too close.

“Hydrants get snow plowed in. There are some you can’t even see,” Weprin said. “It seems like just a common sense change.”

Six major snowstorms have slammed the city so far this winter, Mayor Bill de Blasio said during the last blast on Feb. 13.

In Central Park, Bridgeport and LaGuardia Airport, it is the third snowiest February on record, according to the National Weather Service.

The bill has never moved out of the Committee on Fire and Criminal Justice Services, though similar laws exist in other cities like Orangetown, N.Y. and Santa Maria, Calif., Weprin said.

“I’m hoping we can make the case a little better now,” he said.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Tuesday: Generally cloudy. High 34. Winds W at 10 to 20 mph. Tuesday night: Partly cloudy early followed by cloudy skies overnight. Low 24. Winds WNW at 10 to 15 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Two Nice

The Creek and the Cave presents “Two Nice” during open mic night, every Tuesday through March 4. Fresh off their first place finish in the Nature Valley “Pleasant Gentleman” pageant, professional good dudes Jay Dean and Tynan DeLong bring you “Two Nice Guys.” Open mic  performers get two minutes to “Take the Choo Choo to Chuckletown!” So come out, stay loose and have fun! Juice and cookies provided by Jay’s mom, Gail. The performance starts at 6 p.m. For more information call 718-706-8783. The Creek and the Cave is located at 10-93 Jackson Avenue in LIC. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

City Council holds hearing on traffic deaths

Some New York City parents are all bound together by a common tragedy: their sons and daughters were killed by vehicles on city streets. Read more: Fox New York

Plane returned to JFK over concerns about anti-icing system

A plane had to return to John F. Kennedy International Airport Monday evening, after a cockpit indicator light showed possible problems with the anti-icing system. Read more: CBS New York

De Blasio to appear on CBS’s ‘The Good Wife’

Mayor de Blasio, fresh off Monday morning’s appearance on the “Today” show, is now ready for prime time. Read more: New York Post

Study links acetaminophen use by pregnant women to ADHD in children

A warning for pregnant women: A popular over-the-counter pain reliever may put your unborn child at risk for developing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Read more: CBS New York

Riders becoming less wasteful with MetroCards

Riders wasted tens of millions of dollars less on their MetroCards in 2013 than the year before, according to new MTA data. Read more: New York Post