Tag Archives: City Council

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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Costa Constantinides sworn into City Council


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy Costa Constantinides' Facebook

Councilmember Costa Constantinides was officially sworn into the City Council Tuesday by City Clerk Michael McSweeney. He will begin his term Jan. 1

Constantinides, who represents District 22, was joined by Councilmember James Gennaro.

The date for his inauguration ceremony in Astoria is still to be determined.

 

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Verizon heroes honored by City Council for stopping Flushing rape


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Councilmember Julissa Ferreras

Three Queens-bred Verizon technicians who thwarted a rape in Flushing in October were honored by the City Council Tuesday for their gallant rescue. 

“No one should ever have to experience such an atrocious crime as rape,” said Councilmember Julissa Ferreras, who chairs the Council’s Women’s Issues Committee.

Michael Popowich, Anthony Howley and John Gilday were on the job Oct. 30, when they said they saw a man push a woman down and pull down her underwear near 150-24 Northern Blvd.

The trio chased down the attacker and sat on him until cops arrived.

“I am proud that these courageous men stepped in and prevented a potential rape from occurring,” Ferreras said. “It is my hope that their example resonates with all New Yorkers everywhere to help those who are in need.”

The technicians were honored with a proclamation Dec. 10 by Ferreras, Councilmember Peter Koo and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

“It was a big honor. It was very humbling,” said Gilday, 53, of Douglaston.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Wednesday: Sunny to partly cloudy. High 31. Winds WSW at 10 to 20 mph. Wednesday night: Partly cloudy. Low 23. Winds W at 10 to 15 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: New York Voices — Vocal Jazz Quartet — 25th Anniversary Celebration

Hear the incredible vocal jazz of this world renowned quartet — the group visited Queensborough Community College in 2012 and electrified audiences with their complex harmonies, intricate rhythms, and orchestra-like use of their voices. NY Voices was moved by their work with our vocal students here, and the music department is proud to be able to offer their musical gifts to the campus again. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

City Council passes 911 response time bill

The New York City Council has passed a bill requiring the fire department to change how it tracks response times to emergencies. Read more: NBC New York

NYC could soon mandate flu shots for small children

Some New York City parents may soon be required by law to have their children vaccinated for the flu. Read more: CBS New York

Cuomo backs panel’s $2B tax-cut proposal

The state will consider tax cuts that include relief for renters here and a property-tax freeze outside New York City, Gov. Cuomo said Tuesday. Read more: New York Post

Lawmakers unveil bipartisan budget deal

Shedding gridlock, key members of Congress reached a modest budget agreement Tuesday to restore about $63 billion in automatic spending cuts from programs ranging from parks to the Pentagon. Read more: NBC New York

Curtis Granderson: True New Yorkers are Mets fans

Curtis Granderson’s first hit for his new team was a playful shot at his old employer. Read more: AP

 

City Council passes Ozone Park rezoning


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of the office of Councilmember Eric Ulrich

The City Council passed a change in Ozone Park’s zoning map Tuesday to reflect the neighborhood’s building patterns.

Now, the zoning mandates will reinforce the area’s one- and-two-family residential homes and direct new residential and mixed-use developments to more commercial locations.

“The new zoning enacted into law today will protect Ozone Park from overdevelopment and help create a more livable neighborhood,” said Councilmember Eric Ulrich, who was born and raised in Ozone Park.

“It will also spur new modest development, especially in the commercial districts, thereby creating jobs and increasing property values,” he continued.

The rezoning is bounded by Rockaway Boulevard, Atlantic Avenue and 101st Avenue to the north; the Van Wyck Expressway and Lefferts Boulevard to the east; the Belt Parkway to the south; and the Brooklyn borough line to the west.

This marks the second largest rezoning in Queens, changing the map for roughly 530 blocks in Ozone Park. The vote was prompted by concerns from Community Boards 9 and 10 as well as local civic organizations and elected officials.

“Out of character structures and overdevelopment has become far too common in our communities,” said Councilmember Ruben Wills. “That is why it was important that we undertook these aggressive measures to protect the integrity of our neighborhoods.”

 

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Attorney Munir Avery to run for State Senator Malcolm Smith’s seat


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Munir Avery

Munir Avery announced he will be the first challenger for State Senator Malcolm Smith’s seat in the 2014 election.

“I was born and raised in Queens Village, and I want to continue to serve my community. I want to bring the services to my community,” said the attorney.

Smith, who was indicted in April for allegedly trying to bribe his way onto the Republican ticket for mayor, has not publicly decided whether to run again.

Reps for the 13-year Democratic incumbent said he is not going to comment on his challenger.

In the State Senate, Smith caucused with a group of Democrats that govern with Republicans, said Avery.

“Because of that, the Democrats don’t have their chairmanship [in Albany],” he said.

If elected, Avery plans to caucus with the Democrats in order to work and fight for the party’s agenda.

“It’s cleaning up the system,” he said. “That would be the reason I felt the need to run against [Smith].”

Although this is Avery’s first run at office, he is no stranger to politics. He currently is counsel to Assemblymember Michael Simanowitz, and previously worked for the Queens district attorney’s office and on City Council campaigns.

Avery hopes to address various issues surrounding schools, including funding a universal pre-kindergarten, nurturing scholar athletes, and implementing art and after-school programs.

“When I went to public school, we were able to have art, gym,” he said. “I want to see that back in the schools and I’m going to fight for that.”

He also wants to promote open government in Albany and “try to get the big money out,” of which he said Smith has failed to do.

 

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Paul Vallone sworn into City Council


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/@pfvjr

Councilmember Paul Vallone was officially sworn into the City Council Tuesday by City Clerk Michael McSweeney.

The freshman legislator, who represents District 19, begins his term Jan. 1.

He will have a local inauguration ceremony Jan. 4.

 

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Mayor Bloomberg signs law to raise cigarette purchase age to 21


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Nikki Djokovich

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has signed a law making New York the first major U.S. city to have a minimum cigarette purchase age of 21.

Bloomberg signed the law on Tuesday, raising the minimum age for buying cigarettes and other tobacco products, as well as e-cigarettes, from 18 to 21.

The law, which Bloomberg said “will prevent young people from experimenting with tobacco when they are most likely to become addicted,”will take effect in 180 days. The mayor has previously spearheaded measures such as banning smoking in bars and restaurants.

“Any person operating a place of business where cigarettes, tobacco products, or electronic cigarettes are sold or offered for sale will be prohibited from selling such products to anyone under the age of twenty-one and they will be required to post a sign in a conspicuous location stating the new law,” said Bloomberg.  “Sales of these products shall be made only to an individual who demonstrates, through a driver’s license or other photographic identification card issued by a government entity or educational institution, that the individual is at least twenty-one years of age.”

The City Council voted to raise the minimum age in October. It passed by a 35-10 vote.

“…Our city is sending a powerful signal to the tobacco industry and its allies that hooking our kids on nicotine will no longer be a viable business model,” said Councilmember James Gennaro, one of the law’s sponsors, after the October 31 vote.

Eighty percent of the city’s adults who become daily smokers start smoking before reaching the age of 21, according to the City Council.

The same day, the City Council also passed legislation which attempts to limit access to illegal tobacco products and strengthens enforcement against illegal cigarette dealers.

 

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Daneek Miller wins by a landslide, will replace Leroy Comrie


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Daneek Miller

After coming out on top of a crowded primary race, Daneek Miller easily slid past the general election and right into the District 27 council seat.

“We have a lot of uphill battles,” Miller said. “When you see how working families have been treated over the last decade, it’s imperative that we have a voice at City Hall.”

And Miller will be that voice for his to-be constituents throughout St. Albans, Hollis, Cambria Heights, Jamaica, Baisley Park, Addisleigh Park, Queens Village, Rosedale and Springfield Gardens

Once election night came to an end, the Democratic candidate was declared the winner by a landslide, receiving 96.9 percent of the vote over his opponent, Independent Sondra Peeden, with 3.1 percent.

Miller was backed by longtime City Councilmember Leroy Comrie, who endorsed the union president to succeed him.

“Daneek has always been my backbone. [He] is a proven leader,” Comrie said after the primary election. “He has an ability to do the critical things that are required of a city councilmember.

Miller, a community and labor activist, has lived in the district for 35 years. He is currently the president of the Amalgamated Transportation Union (ATU) Local 1056 and was previously the union’s political director.

Through his time with the union, he has worked for members’ rights, health safety, pension reform, veteran’ rights and more, and hopes to transfer that “success” to City Hall, he said.

Rory Lancman celebrates landslide City Council victory


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Twitter photo courtesy of Dominic Panakal

Former Assemblymember Rory Lancman is headed to City Hall. 

Lancman, 44, won the open District 24 seat in a landslide victory on November 5. He also swept his opponents during the Democratic primary in September. 

“I’m feeling great,” he said. “It’s very, very gratifying and humbling to not just win but win by such a huge margin.” 

The Fresh Meadows attorney beat out Republican Alexander Blishteyn and third-party candidate Mujib Rahman with 73.7 percent of the vote, according to unofficial election results. 

More than 11,850 votes went to Lancman, early tallies show. Blishteyn took in 3,205 votes and Rahman, who lost his bid for the Democratic nominee, received 1,020 votes, according to preliminary results. 

Lancman will replace term-limited Councilmember James Gennaro in a district that represents parts of northeast and central Queens. 

Lancman was elected to the New York State Assembly in 2006. He pledged not to seek re-election last year while running for Congress — later losing his bid for Capitol Hill in the Democratic primary.

Close race called for incumbent Councilmember Ulrich, Simon not conceding


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Votes were counted down to the bitter end before a winner was declared in City Council District 32, and Republican Councilmember Eric Ulrich has reclaimed his seat.

“This race was a real nail biter,” Ulrich said in front of family and friends on election night.

As the results trickled in, Ulrich and his Democratic opponent, Lew Simon, were nearly 50/50 on votes, according to preliminary numbers.

However, both candidates took to the mic and declared victory to their respective crowds.

“It appears that we have won,” Simon said in Rockaway.

Meanwhile, in Howard Beach, Ulrich assured his constituents that he had “the most up-to-date information” and that he had a “very strong lead.”

“Many of you have been with me since the beginning, and this is not going to end,” said the incumbent.

When Ulrich caught wind that Simon too had called the race in his own favor, he responded, “Rumors of my demise are greatly exaggerated.”

However, Simon’s camp came back and accused Ulrich of adapting the ways of the Tea Party where “losing is winning and less is more.”

Simon and his team are still “status quo,” said Doug Forand, spokesperson for Simon. The group plans to wait until all paper ballots are counted and will respond to those results.

“We defied expectations. Few people thought it would be such a tight race. And the race isn’t over yet. We want to make sure every single vote is properly counted,” Simon said. “I’m overwhelmed by the outpouring of support across this district, including from many Republican voters who clearly want a change in leadership.”

According to unofficial results, Ulrich came out on top with 53 percent of the vote and was declared the winner by both the New York Times and the Associated Press.

“I was re-elected by my constituents, and I have a lot of work to do,” said Ulrich, now the only Republican in the Council’s Queens delegation.

He said he will work with the newly elected administration in a bipartisan way, and looks forward to finding out what role he can play in the City Council after a new Speaker is elected.

Regarding any potential role as a Minority Leader in the City Council, Ulrich said it’s “too premature to be talking about leadership roles,” and his time in office still comes second to current Minority Leader James Oddo of Staten Island.

Regardless, during his next term, Ulrich also hopes to revamp the Republican “brand” and work to restore the public’s faith in his party line.

As Ulrich wound down his victory speech, he raised his hands one last time.

“Go to bed tonight and know we kicked Lew Simon’s ass. Let’s have a drink.”

City Council OKs Hallets Point development


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File Photo

The development that would bring thousands of residential apartments, retail space and parkland to the Astoria waterfront at Hallets Point has gotten the final thumbs up.

The City Council voted on Wednesday, October 9 to approve the plan presented by Lincoln Equities Group, the company behind the estimated $1 billion complex called the Hallets Point project.

According to Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., the City Council came to an agreement with developers to cut the “community supportive project” down to half its original size.

The new deal also includes $500,000 in city funded research to see the feasibility, engineering and design of a proposed ferry service in order to take the large number of incoming residents to and from the peninsula of Hallets Point.

“It’s going to bring development to an area that sorely needs it,” said Vallone.

The development group initially announced in 2012 it would build the seven multifamily residential towers made up of 2,200 units on the waterfront presently home to the NYCHA Astoria Houses.

Twenty percent of the apartments are expected to be affordable housing. The complex will also include retail space featuring an affordable supermarket, a bank, drugstores and restaurants.

Along with the building, the plan is expected to include a 100,000-square-foot public park, outfitted with pedestrian walkways and bike paths winding along the waterfront, giving the community better sight lines of the waterfront. The project will also create a spot for a K-8 public school.

In May, Community Board 1 voted unanimously to approve the plan. The City Planning Commission unanimously approved the plan in August and in July Borough President Helen Marshall approved the plan as well.

Construction is expected to begin in late 2014 or early 2015.

 

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Willets Point mega mall gets final City Council green light


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo rendering courtesy of NYCEDC

The City Council approved a major $3 billion Willets Point project Wednesday, clearing the way for a mega mall near Citi Field.

Developers Sterling Equities and Related Companies needed the council’s permission to move Citi Field parking to Willets Point in order to build a 1.4 million-square-foot shopping center west of the baseball stadium.

It was the last hurdle the joint venture needed to jump over after Community Board 7, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and the City Planning Commission gave the project the green light this summer.

The ambitious project includes the cleanup of 23 acres of contaminated land east of Citi Field and eventual construction of housing units with commercial and retail space.

It was long stalled as Councilmember Julissa Ferreras, who represents the area, waited for better relocation plans for soon-to-be-displaced Willets Point business owners.

Auto shop owners who make up the Iron Triangle said they can only survive if they are moved as a whole and can continue as a one-stop shop for motorists.

The pooled $12.5 million offered in total relocation aid payouts were not enough for the approximate 100 auto shops in the first phase of the redevelopment site, advocates said.

The city agreed to spend $15.5 million on moving expenses and relocation of Willets Point business owners as part of a deal struck with the City Council, Ferreras said.

About $17 million more will be given to the Flushing Meadows-Corona Park Alliance for upkeep and maintenance of the park and construction of a green rooftop farm on top of the entertainment center.

“This deal would be a win for our constituents, a win for Willets Point and a win for New York City,” Ferreras said. “This vote has always been about improving the lives of our constituents.”

Construction of 2,500 housing units — 35 percent of which will be affordable — will also be moved up from its original set 2025 date, officials said.

“It is important to note that never before has a council district seen this much affordable housing,” Ferreras said.

“For years, this area has gone without many of the resources the rest of the city has regularly received,” she continued. “Our district deserves to have the same treatment as any other area in New York City.”

About $66 million in the city budget will be set aside to put up new ramps off the Van Wyck Expressway, Ferreras said. Developers also agreed to shell out $7 million for traffic improvement and mitigations.

Written commitments by the joint venture also include funding traffic mitigation measures, building a 1,000-seat K-8 public school, giving $1.87 million to the Willets Point Infrastructure and Traffic Mitigation Fund and hiring locally.

Critics of the plan still say the area needs affordable housing before a colossal shopping center.

Hundreds marched to oppose the project late last month, and at least eight auto shop owners held a hunger strike in August.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Councilmember Mark Weprin, chair of the Zoning and Franchises Subcommittee. “We’ve heard from everyone who wanted to testify right until the end. Not everyone got everything they wanted … [but] the process works. It is great when the community voices can be heard and the members can sit and advocate on behalf of their constituents.”

Officials said the project would provide 7,100 permanent jobs and generate more than $310 million in tax revenue.

“Today’s approvals mean that the historic vision for a redeveloped Willets Point is finally going to become a reality,” the joint venture said in a statement. “Thanks to today’s actions, we are going to transform a contaminated site into a new community with thousands of new jobs, affordable housing, retail and open space.”

 

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Rory Lancman wins landslide victory in District 24


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Twitter

Former Assemblymember Rory Lancman swept his Democratic primary race Tuesday and moved one step further to winning an open City Council seat.

Lancman, 44, won the District 24 Democratic primary in a landslide victory on September 10.

The Fresh Meadows attorney beat out his opponents, Andrea Veras and Mujib Rahman, with nearly 62 percent of votes, according to unofficial election results.

“It’s very satisfying that so many people who I represented when I was in the State Assembly thought I did a good enough job there to give me the chance to serve them in the City Council at a time when all of New York City government is turning over,” Lancman said.

He will face off with Republican candidate Alex Blishteyn, who is also a Fresh Meadows attorney, in the November general election.

The winner will represent parts of central Queens in City Hall. The seat is being vacated by term-limited Councilmember James Gennaro.

Lancman was elected to the New York State Assembly in 2006. He pledged not to seek re-election last year while running for Congress — later losing his bid for Capitol Hill in the Democratic primary.

City Planning Commission OKs Hallets Point development


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File Photo

Thousands of residential apartments, retail space and parkland are one step closer to coming to the Astoria waterfront at Hallets Point, home to the NYCHA Astoria Houses.

On Wednesday, August 21 the City Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve the plan presented by Lincoln Equities Group, the company behind the estimated billion-dollar complex called the Hallets Point project.

In 2012, the development group announced it would build seven multifamily residential towers consisting of 2,200 units. Twenty percent of the apartments will be affordable housing. The location will also include retail space featuring supermarkets, drugstores and restaurants.

A 100,000-square-foot public park, outfitted with pedestrian walkways and bike paths, winding along the waterfront, is also expected to be included.

Robert Schenkel, Lincoln Equities development director previously said the project would bring a positive change to Hallets Points, bringing new housing, an affordable supermarket, a spot for a K-8 public school and a landscaped waterfront path.

The plan will now go before the City Council.

If the plan is approved, construction is expected to begin in late 2014 or early 2015.

 

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