Tag Archives: Congressmember Joseph Crowley

Congressmember Crowley kicks of re-election campaign


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Dominick Totino Photography

Congressmember Joseph Crowley has launched his re-election campaign.

Crowley, who was first elected to Congress in 1998, was voted in last year to represent sections of Queens and the Bronx in the 14th Congressional District.

He officially kicked off his campaign for re-election on Sunday, March 9, in Sunnyside, though no opponents have declared their candidacies as of yet.

“It has been my privilege to represent the people of one of the most diverse districts in the country, and I am excited to announce I’ll be seeking re-election to continue to focus on the issues that matter most,” Crowley said.

The announcement came as the Woodside native gathered with other elected officials and supporters during his fifth annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration at Sidetracks Restaurant.

“Too many families are still struggling to get by and we need to break the gridlock in Congress to get our country moving forward again,” he said. “Using my position in the elected leadership of the House Democratic Caucus, I am fully committed to making a real difference in people’s lives. That means putting New Yorkers back to work, raising the minimum wage, protecting social services that are vital to our most vulnerable communities, and fighting hard to make immigration reform a reality.”

Recently, Crowley introduced the On-The-Job Training Act that would guarantee American workers are able to gain new skills to both compete and succeed in the job market.

 

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Parents, pols oppose temporary relocation plan for P.S. 11 students


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

A group of Woodside parents is sending the Department of Education (DOE) back to the drawing board.

Congressmember Joseph Crowley gathered with other local elected officials and parents of students from P.S. 11, located at 54-25 Skillman Ave., to voice their disagreement with the DOE’s final recommendation of sending the school’s kindergarten and first grade students to P.S. 171 in Astoria.

The temporary relocation of the students, expected to begin for the 2014-15 school year, comes as the School Construction Authority (SCA) plans to build a brand new mini-building addition to P.S. 11 with a capacity of 856 seats.

“I commend the DOE and the SCA for allocating millions of dollars towards this expansion,” Crowley said. “At the same time, though, we must ensure that our children, especially our youngest elementary students, are not displaced to a school outside of the confines of their own neighborhood.”

Last month, the elected officials sent a letter to Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña urging her to reconsider the proposed plan.

According to the DOE’s proposal, the incoming kindergarten class and some first grade students would be transported by bus to P.S. 171, close to three miles away from their zoned school. Then for the 2015-16 school year the children would be relocated to a new elementary school located at 39-07 57th Street. For the third year, the students would then return to P.S. 11.

Woodside parent Julianne O’Riordan currently has a daughter in second grade and a son in kindergarten at P.S. 11, and her youngest son is expected to start kindergarten at the school next year.

“For the first three years of school he’s going to be moved around Queens like a piece on a chess board,” said O’Riordan, about her youngest son, Enda. “We love P.S. 11, its principal, teachers and staff. That is why we are upset that our younger children may not get to have the same wonderful experience that our daughter has enjoyed.”


Enda,4, and his 5-year-old brother Luke will have to go to P.S. 171 next year. (Photo Courtesy of Julianne O’Riordan)

Although the group of parents and elected officials are thrilled to be getting an expansion for the crowded school, they are calling on the DOE to look at different options that would keep the children in the community.

“Taking these kids and moving them miles away to school is going to damage their education and slow them down in their progress and it’s something we impose upon the [DOE] to fix, and fix before it becomes a problem,” State Senator Michael Gianaris said.

Throughout the process of deciding the best course of action during the estimated three year construction, consideration was given to every possible option, according to the DOE.

“Our aim is to deliver a state-of-the-art addition to the building, and as part of our newly announced engagement protocol, we will be scheduling a meeting with the entire school community,” said DOE spokesperson Harry Hartfield.

 

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Pols call for law change after driver with suspended license fatally strikes Woodside boy


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

BY CRISTABELLE TUMOLA AND ANGY ALTAMIRANO

Local elected officials are calling for a change in the law to prevent another child, like 8-year-old Noshat Nahian, from losing their life.

Noshat was crossing the street with his 11-year-old sister on the way to school at P.S. 152 in Woodside around 8 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 20 when a tractor trailer traveling southbound on 61st Street made a left turn onto Northern Boulevard, striking him with its rear tires, police said. He was taken to Elmhurst Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The driver, Mauricio Osorio-Palominos, 51, of Newark, N.J., who remained on the scene of the accident, has been charged with aggravated unlicensed operation of motor vehicle and operating vehicle in violation of safety rules, police said.

Osorio-Palominos was driving with a suspended license with multiple violations on his record during the accident, according to State Senator Michael Gianaris.

In response, Gianaris gathered with local officials, residents and advocacy groups at the site of the accident Monday to introduce legislation that would make it a felony if drivers with suspended licenses either seriously injure or kill someone with their vehicle. Under current law, a driver like Osorio-Palominos could be charged with a misdemeanor.

“The law needs to get tougher,” said Gianaris. “Those who have suspended licenses are twice as likely to kill somebody or injure somebody, or twice as likely to have major accidents, the law has to catch up with the data, we just need to get these people off the streets.”

Gianaris has also proposed the immediate impoundment of a vehicle’s license plate if it were being operated by someone with a suspended license.

The new bill will be co-sponsored by Senators Toby Ann Stavisky and Jose Peralta and also supported by Assemblymember Michael Den Dekker, Congressmember Joseph Crowley and Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer.

“I have an 8-year-old son and it could have been my child, it could have been my son that was hit that Friday morning,” said Peralta. “And we need to send a loud message not only to the city but to anyone who does this, who rides without a license, that this is not going to be acceptable.”

Advocate groups like Transportation Alternatives, Make Queens Safer and Woodside on the Move, are also looking to implement other safety measures like crossing guards, stalled green lights and much more.

“None of this should of happen, all of this could have been prevented,” said Van Bramer. “This school has been asking for a crossing guard at this location for months. [It’s] absolutely disgraceful that the administration did not provide the crossing guard when it was requested, when it was clearly needed. Anybody who has been on this street for more than five minutes knows that this requires a crossing guard.”

Advocacy group Make Queens Safer organized a traffic safety memorial and vigil at 61st Street and Northern Boulevard Sunday where Noshat’s family and hundreds of residents gathered to remember the 8-year-old and other victims of traffic fatalities.

 

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Sunnyside street named in honor of Sandy Hook victim


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

Sandy Hook victim Benjamin Wheeler’s name will live on forever next to the No. 7 train he loved to ride and the Sunnyside street where the world got its first look at him.

Ben, 6, originally from Sunnyside, was one of the 20 children who were killed in the gunfire at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in December 2012. On September 7, he was honored and celebrated during a ceremony to co-name the intersection of 41st Street and Queens Boulevard “Benjamin Wheeler Place.” Ben’s older brother, Nate, unveiled the sign.

“It’s really special that we rename this street ‘Benjamin Wheeler Place’ and the No. 7 train will go back and forth, back and forth and it will be a very beautiful thing,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. “They moved to Connecticut but the love they left behind still is so incredibly strong in the community.”

Family, friends and local officials gathered wearing green, Ben’s favorite color, at the corner of 41st Street, where he lived with his parents and brother. His parents, Francine and David, lived in Sunnyside until Ben was seven months old when they decided to move to Newtown.

“We are so incredibly grateful for the chance to thank our former Sunnyside neighbors whom we are very, very lucky enough to still call friends for their love and for their support in the months immediately following last December,” said David. “You quite literally have kept us standing.”

In honor of Ben’s love for The Beatles, Congressmember Joseph Crowley sang “Here Comes the Sun” to the family.

“Nothing more fitting that we can do [today], than honor Benjamin and the entire Wheeler family by naming the street on which he spent his first day and first months, so that we will always remember the valuable contribution that they have made and their love for Sunnyside,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris.

Francine was one of the founding member of Sunnymoms, a collective of local parents who share recipes, baby sitter recommendations and parenting tips. In February, Sunnymoms organized a fundraiser and concert for the Wheeler family to honor Ben’s memory and raise money for the family.

“Ben was six, he had just learned how to tie his shoes, that was his major accomplishment but frankly he hadn’t really perfected that either,” said David. “The sign will show us where we can eventually go as people. It is up to us to make our schools, our malls, our offices, our parks, our street corners safer for children everywhere.”

 

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MTA poll looks at reopening Elmhurst LIRR station


| editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Rosa Kim

BY ROSA KIM

Transit officials are surveying Elmhurst residents to determine the viability of reopening the shuttered LIRR station at Broadway.

The station, between Cornish and Whitney Avenues, closed in 1985 due to a decrease in ridership, officials said.

But since then, the community’s residential and commercial population has increased.

“When this station closed, people thought Elmhurst was done and over with,” said Councilmember Daniel Dromm. “Now, we’re seeing the revitalization of this community.”

Congressmember Joseph Crowley said reopening the station would spur economic growth and modernize the city.

“Reopening the Elmhurst station would increase residents’ access to both midtown Manhattan as well as Long Island,” he said. “It would help create jobs and provide an economic boost to many small businesses in the community.”

The mail-in survey asks residents within a half-mile radius of the station 10 questions to gauge potential ridership.

The questions cover how often respondents travel to Manhattan, how they usually get there and their likelihood of choosing to ride via LIRR.

Transportation Alternatives executive director Paul White said the station would bring first-rate transit service to Elmhurst.

If the Elmhurst LIRR station existed, commuters could expect a travel time of 15-16 minutes to get to Penn Station during morning peak hours, according to MTA spokesperson Salvatore Arena.

Officials expect the fare during peak hours would be around $8, and $5.75 during off-peak hours.

The review process of the potential $30 million project began last year with a walking tour of the neighborhood and a town hall meeting where the response was “tremendous,” according to MTA LIRR president Helena Williams.

“There are many issues that need to be carefully evaluated as part of this process, but the response has been positive so far,” she said.

The MTA expects to have a good sense of potential ridership by the end of the year, though no decisions will be made until 2015, Williams said.

 

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Queens Library leader recognized by White House


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Queens Public Library

A Queens Library leader won a national honor last week for being a “Champion of Change” for cultural institutions in her community.

Jennifer Manley, the vice president of government and community affairs for the Queens Public Library, was one of 12 people in the nation this year to be recognized as an advocate for museums and libraries.

“Manley believes in the power of information and education to improve lives, one at a time, neighborhood by neighborhood,” the White House said in a statement.

The 62 branches of the Queens Public Library circulate more than 13 million items and see more than 13 million visitors a year. It has become a leader in providing services to immigrants, who make up half of the borough’s population, library and White House officials said.

“Jennifer’s work embodies what this program is all about — recognizing leaders who make a difference in their communities,” said Congressmember Steve Israel. “Queens Borough Public Library is fortunate to have leaders like

Jennifer who contribute so much to the excellence of the institution.”
Congressmember Joseph Crowley called Manley a “staunch advocate” for libraries. He said she “works hard to preserve this invaluable resource for the people who need it most.”

The Champions program gives accolades to individuals and groups who do “extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities,” the White House said.

“Jennifer has been a tremendous asset to the Queens Borough Public Library,” said Congressmember Grace Meng, “and this award exemplifies the outstanding work she’s done to make a difference throughout the many communities of Queens.”

 

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Queens Democratic endorsements: Party backs Katz for borough president, Quinn for mayor


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Melinda Katz: File photo; Christine Quinn; Photo William Alatriste

The Queens Democratic Party doled out its endorsements for this year’s elections Monday, giving key backings in multi-candidate primaries.

The party backed Council Speaker Christine Quinn for mayor, former deputy public advocate Reshma Saujani for public advocate; Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer for comptroller and Melinda Katz for Borough President. Stringer’s son was born earlier that morning.

Former City Comptroller Bill Thompson, who nearly won the mayor’s race in 2009, only received three votes in his favor. Upon Quinn’s formal nomination, she received a standing ovation. The candidate promised better conditions for the middle class in terms of jobs and education.

Katz served in the Assembly from 1994 to 1999. After that, she went on to oversee Queens’ 14 community boards under former Borough President Claire Shulman. Katz then served in the City Council for two terms, and lost the 2009 Democratic primary for comptroller.

She is running against Councilmembers Leroy Comrie and Peter Vallone Jr., State Senators Jose Peralta and Tony Avella and former Deputy Borough President Barry Grodenchik.

“It was not an easy choice,” said Congressmember Joseph Crowley, chair of the county party. “But we believe that Melinda has all the assets necessary to become the next borough president.”

Katz said she’s excited for the nearly four months of primary campaigning that still lie ahead.

“Over the last year, I have come into your districts,” she said. “We have spoken with constituents together. I’ve gotten to know the issues that surround this entire borough.”

Comrie was considered a likely pick for the nomination in the days leading up to the endorsement. But he has had trouble raising funds and was snubbed earlier this year in a key endorsement from the Reverend

Floyd Flake. Flake’s congregation is in Comrie’s council district, but the religious leader backed Katz.
Vallone, who has been leading in polls and in fund raising, said he was not disappointed by the party’s backing for Katz, adding he did not expect to get the endorsement. His brother Paul was endorsed for City

Council District 19, beating out Austin Shafran. Shafran has received a slew of endorsements since January, one of the biggest being from the AFL-CIO.

“The endorsement is not something I was expecting,” Vallone said. “And I’m just very happy they went with my brother Paul, because I’m going to need him in City Hall if, God willing, I’m borough president.”

In her endorsement for Saujani, Crowley cited Saujani’s advocacy for housing and work in the public advocate’s office under incumbent Bill de Blasio.

She is running in a four-way Democratic primary against State Senator Daniel Squadron, Cathy Guerriero and Tish James.

 

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New Woodside school to ease overcrowding


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com


The city is using several empty lots to ensure students in one of New York’s most congested school districts don’t get lost in the “crowd.”

Due to collaboration between the Department of Education (DOE), School Construction Authority (SCA) and Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, the city plans to purchase a cluster of land in Woodside to construct a new elementary school– easing overcrowding in school District 30 by creating roughly 430 new seats.

“I have been looking for a school in that area since I started at the Community Education Council (CEC) nine years ago. This decision is huge,” said Jeff Guyton, co-president of CEC District 30. “We are growing big time in Sunnyside and Woodside, and we are very successful. We have great schools and great leadership in the district, and it is a big thing to put another school in this area that is overcrowded.”

Van Bramer, prompted by the situation at P.S. 11, an elementary school in the area currently operating at 117 percent capacity, has worked with the SCA to address the overcrowding issues in Sunnyside and Woodside.

“This agreement comes at a time when CEC 30 is in the midst of some of the worst overcrowding in the city of New York,” said Van Bramer. “Today’s announcement shows a commitment by both the SCA and the DOE to address this problem in our district. This agreement will not only give our children the adequate space that is needed to learn, but will also alleviate the strain that has been put on schools in the surrounding area.”

Local elected officials echoed the councilmember, emphasizing the negative effect overcrowding can have on education.

“No child should have to fight for a desk, school supplies or the attention of their teachers,” said Congressmember Joseph Crowley. “There is no question Queens is in need of new and better school facilities and today’s announcement is a step forward in addressing the needs of Woodside students. But our efforts must continue, and I will keep fighting in Congress to ensure that schools in Queens receive their fair share of federal funds and that the education of our children comes first.”

Construction on the building is scheduled to begin in the spring or summer of 2013, and the new school is expected to open in September of 2015.

Despite the major boost the new school will provide the area, Guyton believes more measures are necessary if the problem of overcrowding is to be solved.

“Woodside and Sunnyside have been needing help for a long time,” he said. “But we need help in Jackson Heights also. We are still looking for options in Jackson Heights, which is our most intense area of overcrowding.”