Tag Archives: Councilmember Leroy Comrie

Jamaica shootings down more than 50 percent

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

File photo

Jamaica has seen a drastic decrease in shootings this year. Gun violence went down by more than half compared to last year’s crime statistics, according to the NYPD.

Councilmember Leroy Comrie attributed the trend to increased awareness about gun violence and active police work.

“Everybody is trying to keep the level of awareness constant,” he said. “There are folks that are just going to keep a focus on making sure there is attention to reducing gun violence.”

According to the NYPD’s most recent crime statistics, the 113th Precinct has seen nine shooting victims and eight shooting incidents this year, compared to 20 victims and 18 incidents last year.

Similarly, the 103rd Precinct has seen six shooting victims and five shooting incidents, compared to 15 victims and 12 incidents in 2012.

Comrie said the City Council has been working closely with the police department and local groups to implement “Intervention 101” in the streets.

“Both precincts have worked to reduce the level of shootings in the area,” he said. “Both precincts have had youth town halls. There has been an increase in foot patrol. Community groups have had meetings to talk about gun violence. There has been a lot more outreach to the community.”



Sandy victims given property tax extension

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

As communities around the borough continue to pick up the pieces after Sandy, residents in the affected areas have been granted an extended deadline for property tax filings.

“The extension giving victims the opportunity to have their properties reassessed lifts a major burden off the families that were greatly impacted by this tragedy,” said Councilmember Leroy Comrie, who, along with colleagues in the legislature, made the extension request to the city Tax Commission and the Department of Finance.

After many people received their Notice of Property Valuation of property tax assessments, in some cases, they were three times the amount of their property’s actual worth, according to Comrie’s office, due to storm damages.

Additionally, the original deadline of March 15 did not give property owners enough time to file revaluation applications, Comrie said.

“It’s hard enough for the city to get a grasp on what happened to the properties, especially with the complications [following Sandy],” said Glenn Newman, president of the Tax Commission.

Newman said the Department of Finance told the commission that they were giving the affected properties a second look as to what their values would be, and after the city council asked them to reopen the timetable for filing, the obliged due to “justice, fairness and an opportunity for the people.”

Newman hopes this will give the taxpayers opportunity to bring in additional information on their properties and clarify any issues.

“Anyone who visited or saw news clips after the storm understands why this extension is necessary. It was impossible to adequately assess these areas,” Comrie said. “Sandy was one of the biggest and most expensive natural disasters this city and region has ever had to face. Giving residents the time they need to get their lives back together is the least we can do.”

Newman then wrote to Comrie and said that the storm-affected properties were to be mailed a revised notice of valuation, and will have 20 days from when the letter is received to file.

“This extension not only gives families that are still coping with Sandy’s after effects an opportunity to receive a fair property assessment,” Comrie said, “but it will also give the city a more accurate account of the property taxes they can expect for the next fiscal year.”



City Council strips Dan Halloran of funding power

| mchan@queenscourier.com


The City Council has voted to strip disgraced Councilmember Dan Halloran of his committee assignments and power to allocate funding.

Halloran faces federal charges for allegedly playing a key role in a conspiracy and bribery scheme to rig the mayoral election, authorities said.

Power to distribute funds in the 19th District now falls to Speaker Christine Quinn’s office and the Council’s entire Queens Delegation, according to Councilmember Leroy Comrie, the delegation’s chair.

“The entire delegation will be working closely, regarding funding, in consultation with his staff and all of the groups,” Comrie said. “It will be a delegation collaborative effort, working with the community and all the groups that have requested funding.”

Bayside and College Point residents in Halloran’s district recently voted to create kayak and canoe launches in Little Bay Park and restore a cultural institute as part of the city’s participatory budgeting process.

Halloran’s spokesperson Kevin Ryan said the Council will “most likely honor” the votes despite the funding freeze. But sources said the $1 million initiative could be in jeopardy.

“We’ll try to do as much as we can to keep the participatory budgeting,” said Comrie.

Meanwhile, a handful of state elected officials are fighting for a hand in allocating the district’s city funds.

“I have a real problem with someone from outside the district placing money,” said State Senator Tony Avella. “We know the district better than anyone else. We want to make sure the groups that deserve the funding in this district get the proper funding. That would be terribly unfair if the groups are disenfranchised.”

Avella and three assemblymembers who represent parts of the district have placed calls to the Speaker to be part of the decision making process.

“That’s not okay in my opinion,” Avella said. “None of them know the groups in this district.”



Borough President candidates making the rounds

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

BP candidates


Borough President candidates are blazing through Queens, participating in forums and allowing the community to hear their positions.

The six Democrats hoping to replace current Borough President Helen Marshall most recently gathered at the Hollis Hills Jewish Center in Fresh Meadows and attended the Ridgewood Democratic Club’s monthly meeting.

State Senators Tony Avella and Jose Peralta joined City Councilmembers Peter Vallone Jr. and Leroy Comrie, former Assembly and Councilmember Melinda Katz and former Deputy Borough President Barry Grodenchik to speak to members of several Democratic clubs across Queens.

In Fresh Meadows, discussion of mayoral control of the Board of Education (BOE) dominated the forum.
Grodenchik said he has mixed feelings towards the issue, but he wants to “bring some measure of control back to the boroughs.”

The controversy surrounding development of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park was also heavily debated. Peralta said he in favor of the proposed Major League Soccer (MLS) stadium, but would ensure that the park space used not only has to be replaced, but improved.

“It has to be better,” he said, calling soccer “the sport of the world.”

Despite his support for the stadium, he is opposed to the proposed plans for a shopping mall and an expansion of the United States Tennis Association (USTA) center.

Vallone said that he wanted to eliminate overexpansion in the park and bring it to areas in the borough that are “yearning for that kind of development.”

Avella, however, said he is the only candidate that is steadfastly against all three proposals for development.

All of the candidates will continue to campaign and participate in forums across Queens until election day on

Tuesday, November 5. The next forum will be held at St. John’s University on Friday, April 12.



Borough president candidates pick up endorsements

| tcullen@queenscourier.com


As the candidates start to get out and campaign, the race is heating up for the next Queens borough president.

Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., who has led in terms of fundraising since mid-2012, was the most recent candidate to officially kick off his campaign with an event on Monday, March 11 in his native Astoria. Norman Seabrook, president of the New York City Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association, gave the group’s endorsement at the rally.

Former councilmember and former assemblymember Melinda Katz has picked up the backing of the late former Mayor Ed Koch, and the Rev. Floyd Flake, a former congressmember and current senior pastor of the Greater Allen A. M. E. Cathedral of New York.

“It’s been 20 years,” she said of her relationships and endorsements. “I’ve been extremely fortunate in my life to have made a lot of friends.” As former chair of the Land Use Committee, Katz said she gained considerable experience working with the entire borough, either to preserve neighborhoods or help economic growth in others.

State Senator Jose Peralta, representing mainly Corona, has been an advocate for replenishing portions of his district, particularly developing Willets Point and cleaning up Roosevelt Avenue. Union 32 BJ SEIU endorsed Peralta’s candidacy on Friday, March 8.

“No one fights harder for working families and immigrant New Yorkers than SEIU 32BJ, and I am thrilled that they have joined our campaign,” Peralta said. “The thousands of 32BJ members who live in Queens know that we need new leadership to make sure that every child receives a great public school education, that families have a chance to succeed no matter where they come from, and that no neighborhood or borough is left behind when it comes to city services and public safety.”

Former Deputy Borough President Barry Grodenchik has been backed by Queens-based Local 3 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. “It is an honor to have the support of Local 3, and the thousands of Queens residents that belong to this great union,” Grodenchik said. “Together we’re going to bring hands on, visible leadership, and continue the fight to bring good paying jobs to Queens.”

Representatives for Councilmember Leroy Comrie and State Senator Tony Avella were contacted regarding their races, but did not return calls as of press time.



Council hopefuls get ready to fill Comrie seat

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Sondra Peeden/Manuel Caughman/Facebook

The race to replace Councilmember Leroy Comrie for District 27 already has multiple contenders who are raring to address community issues.

Manuel Caughman, community liaison for Assemblymember William Scarborough; Bryan Block, Community Board 13 chair; Joan Flowers, local attorney; Sondra Peeden, a political consultant; and Daneek Miller, a community and labor activist, have all filed their names with the Board of Elections.

“I believe that as large a city as New York is, we can still get to a place where we have a sense of community, where people are willing to reach out and help each other and extend themselves on behalf of their neighbor,” Peeden said.

Peeden and her fellow candidates are focused on a variety of issues, namely education, foreclosures and crime.

“I want to work with young people [to] make sure they’re safe, and not perpetuating the things they can do when they’re misled or don’t have guidance in their life,” Miller said.

Caughman believes controlling gun violence is a goal to pursue and said he wants to work with police to development technologies needed to combat crime.

When it comes to education, Peeden sees the need to take schools out of mayoral control and bring it back to the community. Similarly, Caughman thinks more parental input is necessary.

Miller, if elected, hopes to look deep into school policies so they can continue to meet Department of Education (DOE) standards and avoid threats of closure.

Late last year, Comrie met with Miller about being his successor. After some thought, Miller said he took him up on his suggestion.

“[I feel] it’s a necessity to have a voice for the working people,” said Miller, who is currently the president of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1056. “If you have a record of bringing people together, folks gravitate towards that.”

The primary election is slated for June or September.

Block and Flowers did not return calls for comment as of press time.



New York Knicks shoot hoops with Jamaica kids

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Office of Councilmember Leroy Comrie

The New York Knicks schooled Jamaica kids in basketball at a fitness clinic at I.S. 238.

Councilmember Leroy Comrie hosted the event in conjunction with the Knicks on Thursday, February 28. New York legend Larry Johnson came out to participate with the kids and give them pointers on how to succeed on the court.

“Basketball is ingrained in New York’s history, and it’s important to teach youth about healthy living and staying physically active,” said Johnson. “It’s always a pleasure to be a part of an event like this.”

The clinic brought in dozens of eager participants from all over the community, who took part in workshops that focused on basketball skills while emphasizing the importance of sportsmanship and teamwork.

As kids hustled through a variety of drills, a DJ played music to help keep the energy level up. Once the clinic was complete, participants excitedly took pictures and got autographs from Johnson and Comrie.

“This is a great event for [the] youth,” said Comrie. “I’m happy to have teamed up with the Knicks to host this clinic, in hopes of teaching children how to live a healthy and active lifestyle.”



Queens’ Morning Roundup

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane


Alleged Cocaine Kingpin Nabbed In Queens Drug Ring Bust 

A 15-month investigation by the New York City Police Department and the Queens district attorney’s office has led to the arrest of 45 people, including a man who is allegedly one of the city’s biggest cocaine dealers. The investigation centered on two gangs in southeast Queens, the South Side Bloods and the Corley Crew, which police say brought in more than $15,000 a week in narcotics sales. Read more: [NY1]


Probe into John Liu’s campaign cash prompts extra caution among Queens pols 

John Liu’s money men are radioactive and another ambitious Queens pol is doing her homework to avoid the fallout. The names of campaign donors to surface in the federal probe of City Controller John Liu have been flagged by Grace Meng’s fundraising operation, a reminder to steer clear of their cash as the assemblywoman runs for the redrawn 6th Congressional District. Read more: [New York Daily News]


Elmhurst Developer Criticized For Multiple Code Violations

Queens Senator Tony Avella gathered with community members in Elmhurst on Thursday to say they are outraged that the Department of Buildings continues to issues permits to developer Tommy Huang, even though he consistently violates building and zoning codes. Read more: [NY1]


New bills put historic districts in jeopardy, advocates say

Queens has a long history of getting left in the landmark dust. Newly proposed bills in the City Council could extend that history, preservationists said, putting future designations in jeopardy for the borough that has only a fraction of landmarks compared to Brooklyn or Manhattan. Read more: [New York Daily News]


Off-duty cop busted for trying to sneak into better seat at Citi Field

You’re out. An off-duty cop was dragged out of a Mets game in handcuffs last night after he tried to sneak into a better seat at Citi Field, police sources said. Read more: [New York Post]


MTA Bridge & Tunnel Officers Told To Stop Caring For Rockaways Strays 

For decades, MTA Bridge and Tunnel Officers by the Rockaways say they have been taking care of stray cats in the area, but now they are being told by their bosses to stop. Read more: [NY1]

Solidarity and Seeking Justice

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

LC head shotw


Since the tragedy in Sanford, Florida that took the life of Trayvon Martin, we have seen an outcry of public support for the Martin family and a strong call for justice. Many residents informed me that they wanted to express their outrage and frustration because what is happening in Sanford is also happening all over the entire country. They wanted to know what they could do to help.

I was proud to co-sponsor the “March for Justice” this past weekend with the Commission on Social Action (COSA) to educate our youth on their rights and to bring the community together. I did not hesitate when Vivian McMillian, president of the 113th Precinct Community Council, contacted me about hosting the march. We wanted to inform, empower and encourage our community to ensure that all our residents are aware of the information available to protect themselves. We also wanted to send a message of solidarity and show our desire to see justice done in the Trayvon Martin case, and in other cases involving youth and gun violence.

That over 1,000 people participated on a rainy day demonstrated that people were determined to send a message that George Zimmerman, who shot Trayvon Martin, should be arrested immediately, and that our community is tired of seeing injustice in the legal system towards minority groups.

On the night of February 26, Trayvon Martin was going home to watch basketball, just like many other teenagers do. He encountered George Zimmerman, a self-appointed “captain” of a community watch group who was carrying a gun. As we have seen and heard from the tapes that have been released from the Sanford Police Department, we know Zimmerman was told not to follow Martin, and while Zimmerman is claiming there was an altercation, he was the one able to walk away without any help or visible injuries.

Zimmerman does not represent the majority of New Yorkers or Americans who have friends from different backgrounds and cultures that have come together with their individual skills and knowledge to make the United States the greatest country in the world. Zimmerman is an example of the reasons why there is still much more work to be done to eliminate racism and profiling in every form and push back with all our voices when injustice occurs. The fact that Zimmerman is still free is sending a dangerous message that a child’s life is not valued by those who are in position to ensure they succeed or fail.

We need to give our children the confidence, knowledge, and skills necessary to be leaders. Whether wearing a suit and tie or casually dressed in a hoodie, a young person should be able to walk the streets without fear for his or her life. There needs to be a renewed focus on providing alternative recreational, cultural and educational activities throughout all communities to keep our children positively engaged.

As long as I am in public office I will continue to ensure our government helps empower people and does not restrict individual liberties. We need everyone to make a conscious effort to become educated and participate in their community in a positive way. However, you do not have to be a member of the city council or any other political body in order to make a positive impact on another person’s life. The real impact starts at home. Parents need to be actively involved in their children’s lives by turning off the television and asking their children if they’ve done their homework. Community residents can get involved by participating in civic service events, by volunteering in their neighborhoods or at their places of worship. All of these activities can help create opportunities to help our young people reject the negative forces that are always trying to endanger their safety and well-being.

The “March for Justice” was a great example of a positive action to show that as we continue to seek justice for Trayvon Martin, we must remember that it is up to all of us to make sure tragedies like this don’t happen again.


March in memory of Trayvon Martin

| chudson@queenscourier.com

Photo by Juliet Kaye

Trayvon Martin may have lived and died in Florida, but the circumstances surrounding his death have struck a chord in Queens.

On Saturday, March 31, Councilmember Leroy Comrie,the Commission on Social Action (COSA) and the Greater Allen AME Cathedral sponsored a march in honor of those whose lives have been lost to gun violence. Among those being remembered was Martin, the Florida teen who was allegedly shot and killed by purported neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman.

The route of the march took protesters from Linden and Francis Lewis Boulevards to St. Albans Park, where community leaders spoke to those who made their way through the rain for the event.

The goal of the rally was to bring attention to the impact of gun violence on communities, and especially young people. Additionally, the event served as “an opportunity for Queens youth to learn about their rights and what they can do to help make sure tragedies like this do not happen to them,” said a spokesperson for Comrie.

Florence Simmons, founder of Teens Against Crime, said the incident involving Treyvon Martin made her fearful for her own children and wary of how easily they can be stereotyped by something as simple as what they wear.

The local advocate appreciates the recent marches that have taken place surrounding this incident, but hopes for a more permanent way to get people to open their eyes.

“We have to revise our lives,” said Simmons. “It’s sad for me as a parent. It’s a lesson for everyone.”

Additional reporting by Alexa Altman