Tag Archives: Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer

UPS workers rally in Maspeth to save 250 drivers’ jobs


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Follow me @liamlaguerre

 

Elected officials and UPS workers held a rally in front of the company’s Maspeth distribution center Friday to save the jobs of 250 drivers—more than half the fleet—who were recently handed termination slips.

The cuts were made after workers for the parcel delivery service held a rally—while on the job—on February 26. The first demonstration protested the firing of Jairo Reyes, a UPS employee of 24 years. UPS showed Reyes no love on Valentine’s Day, when he was fired, escorted out of the facility, and had his employee card taken away.

“That was my Valentine’s Day gift from UPS,” said Reyes, who is married with two children.

Teamsters Local 804, which represents the workers, said Reyes should have had a hearing and meeting with his business agent before getting the hook.

Reyes filed a grievance with two co-workers before he was fired, arguing that junior workers were allowed to start earlier than their seniors, but the employee contract states earlier start times are based on seniority, Reyes said. He was fired officially for “admitted dishonesty” because he started his shifts earlier. But Reyes said a manager verbally okayed his punching-in early, starting from Jan. 6.

“They took a grievance with one employee and turned it into notices of termination with 250 workers,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. “That’s outrageous. These are good, hardworking employees who have a contract for UPS. To try and break this contract, break this union, is something that is unacceptable and we can’t tolerate.”

The company and the union were in ongoing talks about Reyes’ and other workers’ grievances, but negotiations broke down recently. Then UPS decided to ax the 250 workers for “illegal and unauthorized work stoppage,” following the initial rally.

“UPS takes its commitments to its customers very seriously, and must take action to ensure unauthorized employee actions resulting in refusal to work, does not prevent the company from meeting its service and delivery commitments,” the company said in a statement.

Union representatives and Public Advocate Letitia James passed along a petition with more than 100,000 signatures after the demonstration on March 21, to get the company to negotiate a settlement.

Reyes hopes to at least get his job back.

“I’ve dedicated my years to the company, my passion, my life. That would be good to have my job back,” he said. “I have a family to support.”

 

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Queens World Film Festival celebrates opening night


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Action! The 4th Annual Queens World Film Festival has begun.

The festival, which brings international and local filmmakers to the borough to screen their works, celebrated its opening night on Tuesday at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria.

Opening night featured three films from the United States and one from Kosovo, ranging from animation to short narratives.

FOR MORE OPENING NIGHT PHOTOS CLICK HERE

Borough President Melinda Katz, one of the night’s speakers, said that the festival was not only a great project for all the filmmakers and volunteers involved, but also for helping brand the borough of Queens.

“We are the most diverse place on the entire planet. We are extremely excited by this,” Katz said. “We are telling the international audience that we are here, we are strong. Diversity is the greatest asset that we can give the entire world here in the borough of Queens and this film festival proves it every day that we are having it.”

Organizers Katha and Don Cato, who were introduced by Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, welcomed the audience and shared what they’ve done in the 365 days since last year’s festival. They then went on to describe what the next five days would bring for the borough.

“It’s an incredible opportunity for us and one we are very happy to share it with everyone,” Katha said.

Don encouraged the audience members to go see all the films over the next few days.

“What I want you to experience is the unique opportunity that all of these films have and let them just wash over you,” he said. “Let them inform you, experience them, open yourselves up to them and enjoy them for what they are.”

Before the first block of films was shown, the festival honored Carl Goodman, executive director of the Museum of the Moving Image, as one of the 2014 Spirit of Queens Honorees for his leadership.

“Something wonderful is happening here,” Goodman said. “New York City is becoming decentralized. Manhattan is a borough, Queens is a borough. They’re all boroughs and there’s no inner or outer. I like to think about it as Manhattan being the shining surface of the city and Queens being the substance.”

Independent filmmaker Hal Hartley was also recognized as a Spirit of Queens Honoree. Before accepting his award, the crowd got a taste of his eight minute short narrative from 1994 called “Opera No. 1.”

The night ended with a party at Studio Square just a couple blocks away from the museum.

Throughout the six-day festival, which goes until March 10, a total of 127 films including short and feature narratives, LGBT pieces, documentaries and animation will be divided into subject blocks and will be shown at venues such as The Secret Theatre and The Nesva Hotel in Long Island City, and P.S. 69 in Jackson Heights. During the festival there will be 16 films screened from Queens filmmakers.

The festival will also screen the world premiere of the director’s cut of the Oscar-nominated documentary “The Act of Killing” on Thursday, March 6 at 7:30 p.m. at P.S. 69.

Films will also be given awards on the final night of the festival.

For a full schedule of the festival visit here. Tickets for the festival are $10 for regular admission and $6 for students and seniors. To purchase tickets visit here.

 

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BP Katz talks branding Queens at LIC Partnership breakfast


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

Long Island City welcomed Borough President Melinda Katz with open arms—and coffee.

The Long Island City Partnership held a breakfast at the CUNY School of Law for Katz on Feb.27 to welcome her to the thriving western Queens community.

“She is no stranger to any of us in this room, nor to this community. She has been and really is Queens,” Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer said as he introduced Katz. “For the next eight years, Borough President Katz is going to make sure there is a vision and the know-how to get that vision accomplished.”

During the breakfast, the borough president spoke about future plans for Long Island City and the overall borough — highlighting the importance of branding the area, cultural institutions, marketing and tourism.

“We’re nothing like the other boroughs, we are our own borough,” Katz said. “We may want to make the rest of the borough like Long Island City, maybe, but we’re not going to make it the new Brooklyn, we stand on our own.”

Katz said she is working with Van Bramer to come up with an overall plan for Long Island City, including bringing small start-up tech industries and improving the transportation system.

“Cultural institutions will brand this borough, not only the restaurants and the shopping,” she said. “Folks need to know that if they come to the City of New York and they have not visited the borough of Queens, they have not seen New York City.”

In her plan she also hopes to work with hotels in Manhattan in order for visitors to be given a script of different events happening in Queens. The borough president also plans on creating a cultural guide to give out during the 1964 World’s Fair 50-year commemoration.

“I am excited about the future here,” she said.

 

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De Blasio joins Sunnyside and Woodside to celebrate St. Pat’s for All Parade


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Ed Reed for the Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio

Sunnyside and Woodside got all dressed up in green for the annual St. Pat’s for All Parade Sunday.

The parade, which ran down Skillman Avenue, featured the young and old, and even some four-legged friends celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.

After deciding to boycott the city’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, because of its ban on LGBT pride banners or signs, Mayor Bill de Blasio took the trip to Queens to march in the Sunnyside parade.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE PARADE PHOTOS

De Blasio was joined by other elected officials including City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Public Advocate Letitia James, City Councilmembers Daniel Dromm and Jimmy Van Bramer, Senators Michael Gianaris and Grace Meng, and many more.

The Grand Marshals of the parade were Terry McGovern and Tom Duane.

St. Pat’s for All is known to be the city’s most diverse St. Patrick’s parade, embracing LGBT groups, community organizations, school bands, Irish organizations and, religious and civic groups.

An annual post-parade party followed at Saints & Sinners Irish Bar & Grill.

 

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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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MTA plans to help promote LIC during No. 7 train suspensions


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of MTA New York City Transit / Leonard Wiggins.

Although the MTA cannot put a stop to the suspensions expected for the No. 7 train, the agency plans on working to help promote Long Island City.

After a closed preliminary meeting with elected officials and community leaders on Thursday, the MTA said it is willing to work with the community to create a marketing campaign for the neighborhood during the upcoming shutdowns.

Between Feb. 28 and July 21, there will be 13 weekend suspensions. Those dates are finalized but the agency also plans on holding nine tentative weekend shutdowns August through November.

“In terms of what we are more than willing to do is to work with the elected officials and the business owners on a marketing campaign for area businesses in Long Island City,” said MTA spokesperson Kevin Ortiz.

The campaign would include “pretty robust presence” at subway stations with brochures in different languages, posters, a homepage banner and information on the digital urban planners, said Ortiz.

The agency is also considering doing a two-side branded MetroCard with information on Long Island City.

In regards to the option offered by elected officials to have a shuttle bus service into the city, the MTA does not plan on implementing it because it is not a “viable alternative,” said Ortiz. 

He added that it is quicker for the vast majority of passengers to take the E, N or Q lines into Manhattan and people will still be able to get into Long Island City. 

“It’s just going to take a little bit longer,” said Ortiz. 

Elected officials have also asked for ferry service to be increased during the time of the suspensions, but Ortiz said that option would have to be addressed by the city and the New York City Economic Development Corporation

Ortiz added that the suspensions need to happen in order for certain tracks to be replaced to prevent future problems and increase the number of trains running on the No. 7 line. 

The MTA plans to work together with the elected officials to hold meetings with the community. The dates are yet to be determined.

 

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Pols, leaders meet with MTA to begin dialogue on No. 7 train suspensions


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File photo

After local elected officials and community leaders met with the MTA Thursday, the agency plans on making no changes to the No. 7 train suspension, but is looking to reach out to the community.

State Senator Michael Gianaris and Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer were among those who spoke with MTA officials during the closed preliminary meeting to discuss the upcoming shutdowns to the subway line. 

Between Feb. 28 and July 21, there will be 13 weekend suspensions. Those dates are finalized but the agency also plans on holding nine tentative weekend shutdowns for August through November.

Thursday’s meeting was not opened to the public but some members of the Long Island City community stood outdoors in order to show their concerns.

The MTA offered to continue the conversation with the community by coming out and holding a meeting to explain the details for the suspensions, according to Gianaris. The date of that meeting is yet to be determined.

“It’s better that they are listening to our input. But it’s only valuable if it leads to change,” Gianaris said. “We hope that the MTA will not just listen to our concern but actually do something about it. Today was the beginning of a process to test if they’re willing to do that.”

Although the MTA expressed the willingness to reach out to the community, the senator said the agency did not agree on bigger issues such as those related to improving the service or providing more substitutes.

For example, one substitute that was shot down by the agency was Gianaris’ suggestion to offer a shuttle bus from Vernon Boulevard through the Queens Midtown Tunnel into the city.  

“The limited good news is that they are engaging in a dialogue with the community on what is needed,” Gianaris said. “The not-so-great news is when we expressed what the community needs, we didn’t get that far. But the dialogue will continue.”

The MTA previously said the latest round of work is expected to modernize, improve and fortify the Flushing No. 7 line. The work will also include tunnel duct reconstruction and replacement and improvements on components damaged during Superstorm Sandy.

 

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Pols call for Northern Boulevard to be included in mayor’s Vision Zero initiative


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Local politicians and residents are saying the time to act is now, before another innocent life is taken on Northern Blvd

Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer gathered with other elected officials and traffic safety advocates Thursday to call for Northern Blvd. to be added as one of the 50 locations in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative

“We are all committed to Vision Zero, and it is our obligation to speak up and stand up every single time pedestrians are killed or injured as a result of reckless driving,” said Van Bramer, who has developed a list of locations with traffic fatalities. “We’re calling for the administration to include Northern Boulevard, and really all over Northern Boulevard, stretching into Jackson Heights and Corona, deserve this recognition.”

The group gathered at the intersection of Northern Blvd. and 48th St. in Woodside, where four pedestrians were stuck Saturday while they were waiting for the bus. One of the victims was a 7-year-old girl who suffered a skull fracture but survived. 

“Here we go again,” said Senator Michael Gianaris, who introduced a bill in the Senate, which would charge drivers who continue to drive without a valid license and are in an accident that causes serious injury or death with vehicular assault.

“Until we begin taking pedestrian safety seriously, we are going to keep standing at more and more press conferences talking about the same issue and we hope we don’t have to do it too many more times,”  he said.

Last month, de Blasio and his administration launched an interagency working group, together with the NYPD, Department of Transportation, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and Taxi & Limousine Commission, to implement a Vision Zero initiative aiming to reduce traffic fatalities to zero within the next 10 years.

The announcement took place just less than a block from where third-grader Noshat Nahian, who was on his way to school, was fatally struck in December by a tractor trailer on Northern Blvd. and 61st St.

The working group will come together to implement the mayor’s plan by developing a report, due to the mayor by Feb. 15 and released publicly, that will serve as a blueprint for the mayor’s “Vision Zero” plan for safer streets through the city.

“Clearly Northern Blvd. deserves this recognition and we are asking the administration to include this series of intersections on Northern Boulevard so no child is ever killed trying to cross the street going to school,” said Van Bramer. “This is a street. For some, they may think it’s a highway, but the truth is there are people living, working and going to school all along Northern Blvd. and it has to be just as safe as any other street in the city of New York and until it is so, we will not rest.”

 

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Growing Up Green Charter School to welcome new middle school to LIC


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Educational Network

Education in Long Island City is getting a much-needed expansion.

The Growing Up Green Charter School, located at 39-27 28th St., will officially be a middle school by 2015.

In September, the facility will welcome 6th graders in a new building, and the following year, will grow to include the 8th grade, bringing a brand new middle school to the area and District 30.

“[I am] very, very excited,” said Matthew Greenberg, principal of the Growing Up Green Charter School. “I think that District 30 needs an additional solid middle school that will give parents additional choices for their children.”

The school, which is slated to open in September, will be located close to the 28th Street location, but a building is yet to be determined, said Greenberg. It is expected to accommodate about 90 students in the upcoming 6th grade class, and a total of about 270 students by 2015.

“As more and more New Yorkers come to western Queens to raise their families, having enough classroom seats to provide a good education is essential,” said Senator Michael Gianaris. “Our schools are already stretched too thin, which is why I am pleased with the addition of a middle school at a successful institution like Growing Up Green, and why I will continue fighting to guarantee educational resources in western Queens keep up with development.”

Growing Up Green Charter School is an independent public charter school for K-5,  founded in 2009, which focuses on empowering students “to be conscious, contributing members of their community through a rigorous curriculum and engaging in green culture.”

“For five years Growing Up Green has made meaningful contributions to western Queens. Their curriculum has continued to engage countless students making them active members in our community’s efforts to protect our environment,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. With the addition of a new middle school Growing Up Green will be able to expand the positive impact it has on our neighborhoods and educate even more youth about the importance of contributing to their communities.”

There will be two open houses for those interested in applying to the new middle school. The first will be held on Saturday, March 1 at 1 p.m. at the charter school, and the second will be on March 22 at Long Island City Library, at 37-44 21st St. Applications are available here.

 

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Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer discusses vision for new majority leader role


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ File Photo

Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer is looking forward to the next four years as majority leader.

Van Bramer was appointed on Jan. 22 by newly elected City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

“It’s a great honor, not only for me, but for our district, for our team and for Queens,” Van Bramer said. “It was a very humbling experience. It took a while to sink in.”

As majority leader, his key role is working together with the 48 Democratic members of the City Council and serving as a bridge between them and Mark-Viverito.

Van Bramer has also been named co-chair of the Council’s Budget Negotiating Team.

Since his appointment, the councilmember has hit the ground running and plans to get involved in working on subjects such as paid sick leave and universal pre-kindergarten.

“We are active every single day and I am looking forward to being a very influential majority leader over the next four years,” he said.

Van Bramer hopes to work together with his fellow councilmembers to help in any way he can.

“I’m here to help them achieve their goals and to use my office and my proximity to the speaker to advance their goals, their agendas and their districts,” he said. “I hope that they will call on me anytime they need and I will go to the speaker and advocate for them in every way I can. That’s the kind of majority leader I want to be.”

The councilmember also retained his position as chair of the Council’s Cultural Affairs Committee. He plans to continue working with the libraries and growing cultural community to make sure the budgets and appropriate funds work for them.

“I’m excited about the work ahead,” said Van Bramer. “It’s a great time and I feel reinvigorated. I am going to work incredibly hard in being the best majority leader that I can be and then the future will take care of itself.”

 

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32 arrested during civil disobedience at LaGuardia Airport as workers call for better treatment


| editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Katelyn Di Salvo

BY KATELYN DI SALVO

Wendy Arellano, a single mother of two from Corona, holds three jobs to try to make it through the months. She makes $8 an hour working at LaGuardia Airport and has now stood up to make her voice heard.

Arellano, together with close to 1,000 other airport employees, local elected officials and community leaders gathered on Martin Luther King Day at LaGuardia Airport to demand better rights and benefits for airport workers and express the struggle of bringing “dignity, fairness and economic justice to the contracted employees.”

In December, workers presented the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, with petitions signed by more than 2,000 workers at LaGuardia, John F. Kennedy and Newark airports demanding Martin Luther King Day 2014 as a paid holiday. When they did not hear back from the Port Authority the workers and many people involved in the SEIU 32 BJ, a union representing most of the airport workers, they decided to organize Monday’s civil disobedience.

The rally opened with a prayer, and workers shared the stage to tell their stories and hardships.

“Personally I think it’s sad, I work three jobs to get through the months and even years, I don’t think what I make is enough for anyone to get by, and I hope this has gotten to the ears of the Port Authority,” Arellano said.

Juan Chapman who also works for LaGuardia Airport, shared his story as a security guard making $8 an hour and shouted many of his co-workers make less plus zero benefits.

“When people ask me how I live in New York on that salary I don’t have an answer, because there is no way someone can survive making $8 or less an hour,” he said.

Andrew Lloyd, a cabin cleaner at JFK International Airport shared his feelings of anger.

“I have a full time job, and I am on public assistance,” said Lloyd. “I find that to be ridiculous that I am working so hard, working overtime, and I still need public assistance, I have no health insurance, no sick days, no paid vacation days and I’m here to say I’m tired, we need respect.”

Many federal, state and local elected officials and clergy members also joined the rally standing side by side with workers.

“We have to make certain that there is a livable wage for people, no one should be one pay check away from homelessness,” said Congressmember Charles Rangel, who took the stage in support.

Rangel also said he is confident that Mayor Bill de Blasio, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and President Barack Obama will bring equality to these workers.

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito also announced her support of the fight for equality among workers.

“The thousands of New York area airport workers who have no health insurance, paid sick leave or the right to organize deserve better for their tireless work,” Mark-Viverito said. “Millions of New Yorkers pass through our airports every year and it’s the hard work and dedication of the workers who help make that possible. It’s time to take care of the workers who help New York City maintain its position as an international gateway.”

After the speeches, Hector Figueroa, President of SEIU 32 BJ, led the march to the 94th Street and Ditmars Boulevard bridge leading to LaGuardia Airport.

“We are here to honor Dr. King, and what better way to celebrate his legacy than doing the work of justice for workers that he carried on until he gave his life,” said Figueroa.

As workers marched through the streets they chanted “MLK is our day” as police surrounded them and warned them to clear the streets. Workers and members of SEIU 32 BJ sat down on the street in the middle of the bridge to make their statement clear.

Police then started arresting various people who would not clear the streets, ultimately arresting 32 people including local councilmembers Jimmy Van Bramer, Daneek Miller and Ruben Wills.

Those arrested were taken to the 115th Precinct, given summonses and released later in the day.

The workers and members of SEIU 32 BJ said they will not stop until “they get respect and equality.”

The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey did not respond to request for comment as of press time.

 

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LIC community voices outrage against upcoming No. 7 train suspensions


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

Long Island City residents and business owners are telling the MTA enough is enough.

The No. 7 train will soon be going through another round of suspensions causing it to not run in parts of western Queens and Manhattan for more than a dozen weekends this year, starting in the end of February, according to a notice from the MTA.

This news again upset residents, business owners and local politicians who gathered in front of the Vernon Boulevard-Jackson Avenue subway station on Friday to tell the MTA they are fed up with the constant disruptions and the lack of notice.

“Real people’s lives are affected in real ways here, this is not a game,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. “This is about human beings, they’re trying to survive and the MTA is trying to kill us. We’ve got to stop this now.”

From February through July, there will be 13 weekend suspensions. Those dates are finalized, the transit agency said. There are nine tentative weekend shutdowns scheduled for August through November.

Business owners are tired of potential financial losses, residents are sick of longer commutes and local politicians just want the MTA to finally listen to their ideas and communicate with the neighborhood.

“It outrageous and all we are asking for is the opportunity to be heard, to present some common sense ideas that we have presented to them year after year after year,” said Senator Michael Gianaris, who has suggested the MTA offer a shuttle bus from Vernon Boulevard through the Queens Midtown Tunnel into the city. “The MTA needs to listen to us once and for all.”

Rebecca Trent, LIC resident and owner of The Creek and The Cave on Jackson Avenue, said the area has grown by 500 percent and the suspension will only make business owners’ jobs harder.

“I don’t know how I’m going to survive this, I do not know and neither do many of my neighbors,” Trent said holding back tears. “What they are trying to do to this neighborhood is disgusting, we deserve better, enough is enough.”

Along with the shuttle service through the Midtown tunnel, Trent also said that in order to compensate the Long Island City community for the “irresponsible shutdowns,” the MTA should give local businesses, who will suffer, free ad space at the E and G subway stations and on the trains.

Richard Mazda, artistic director for The Secret Theatre, said he has had to put up with the disruptions to his business every single year and has faced problems during the annual LIC Arts Open festival, with artists and friends not being able to attend.

“You must have known that you were going to do this work, you have stage managed the release of this information so that we couldn’t fight you, but we will,” Mazda said to the MTA. “This is like the worst movie you have ever seen.”

The latest round of work, including continued installation of Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC), replacement of critical track panels and reconstruction inside the Steinway Tube under the East River, is expected to modernize, improve a fortify the Flushing No. 7 line, according to the MTA. The work will also include tunnel duct reconstruction and replacement and improvements on components damaged during Superstorm Sandy.

“We understand that these service disruptions are inconvenient to the customers who depend on the No. 7 train and we appreciate their patience,” said MTA NYC Transit President Carmen Bianco. “We have made every effort to schedule these project simultaneously to get as much work done as we can during these periods.”

 

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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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LIC community calls for safety improvements along street off Pulaski Bridge


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer's Office

Long Island City residents are calling for the Department of Transportation (DOT) to implement safety improvements in a high-traffic area before someone gets hurts.

Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer gathered with residents Monday to ask the DOT to install a crosswalk and additional signage along 49th Avenue coming off the Pulaski Bridge, and on the Avenue’s intersection with 11th Street. Van Bramer also called on the DOT to conduct a traffic study of the intersection to create long term answers in reducing speed.

“It is the Department of Transportation’s responsibility to maintain the safety of our city’s pedestrians,” said Van Bramer. “The residents who live at the intersection of 49th Avenue and 11th Street in Long Island City have been ignored by DOT for far too long.”

There are two residential buildings, L Haus and Hunters View, located at the intersection and adjacent to the exit ramp off the Pulaski Bridge. This area, which has a large amount of traffic, suffers from numerous vehicle crashes, according to residents who also said they fear for their lives dodging speeding cars.

“Vehicles are allowed to speed, without stopping, coming off the Pulaski Bridge onto 49th Avenue. This creates an extremely dangerous intersection due to the lack of clear crosswalk markings and stop signs or signals,” said Greg Smith, president of LHaus Board of Managers. “As a building with 123 units with over 40 young children, it is imperative for this matter to be addressed immediately. We need a crosswalk as well as proper signage before we see anyone hurt.”

Van Bramer’s office reached out to the DOT in November 2012 to request safety measures to prevent illegal access to 11th Street as well as speeding along 49th Avenue.  The agency responded in January saying the location has had “several safety improvements made,” according to Van Bramer.

“There are a variety of solutions that can be implemented immediately to make this heavily trafficked intersection safer,” said Van Bramer. “I do not understand why DOT has chosen not to take action. Now is the time to act. Not after a tragedy occurs.”

According to the DOT, the agency studied the intersection earlier this year for crosswalks and traffic control.

“Safety is DOT’s top priority and the agency will be studying the Hunter’s Point area for a future capital project that will be designed to enhance safety and improve mobility for this growing area,” said DOT spokesperson Nicholas Mosquera. “In the short term, the agency is taking a look at signage in the area.”

 

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Sunnyside’s Boulevard Bars makes $10K donation to local charities, groups after holiday pub crawl


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos Courtesy of Sunnyside’s Boulevard Bars

Less than a week after the Santas came to Sunnyside, the first wave of toys was donated to local charities and groups.

Sunnyside’s Boulevard Bars, a collective of 10 bars and restaurants on and around Queens Boulevard, held their Second Annual Sunnyside Santathon pub crawl for charity on December 7 where they raised $10,000 in monetary and toy donations.

The participating bars were Bar 43, The Courtyard Ale House, Maggie Mae’s, The Gaslight, Arriba Arriba, Sidetracks, Molly Blooms, PJ Horgan’s, McGuinness Pub and Bliss Street Station.

The collective made their first donation Thursday at the United Forties Civic Association Holiday Party at St. Teresa’s Church in Woodside where they were joined by representatives from the church, St. Raphael’s Church, 108th Precinct Captain Brian Hennessy and Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. The group also donated money to the food pantries at both churches.

“It just feels fantastic to be able to give back to the community,” said Liz Taylor, manager of Bliss Street Station. “The little kids will wake up Christmas morning and have something to play with.”

The organizations receiving toys include St. Teresa’s and St. Raphael’s Church, the 108th Precinct Toy Drive, MercyFirst Angel Guardian Orphanage in Brooklyn and Metro Homeless Shelter.

This year’s donations doubled from the inaugural Santathon last year. All who took part this year were dressed in their best Santa attire, and some even came as Santa’s little helpers.

“It was great to get together,” said Patrick Burke, owner of The Courtyard Ale House. “It shows the hard work we did really paid off. It was tremendous, we exceeded our expectation.”

Monetary and new, unwrapped toy donations are still being accepted at the 10 bars of Sunnyside’s Boulevard Bars up until Christmas.




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