Tag Archives: Councilmember Peter Koo

Queens civics band together in ‘Fight the Blight’ initiative


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Don Capalbi

A Flushing civic group has started a grassroots initiative to stand up to out-of-scale construction sites that residents say are destroying neighborhoods.

The Queensboro Hill Flushing Civic Association is asking its neighbors to “Fight the Blight” by compiling addresses and photos of egregious buildings, which will then be delivered to the City Planning Commission.

“Little by little, things are getting worse. There are more and more blights, and they are getting more egregious, both in quality and quantity,” said Don Capalbi, the civic’s president.

The worst example, local leaders say, is a roughly 2,300-square-foot row house being built at 146-15 56th Rd.

“It’s just a monster,” Capalbi said of the two-story home. “It’s destroying the entire block.”

Queens Civic Congress, a coalition of about 100 local groups, has been urging the city to establish a zoning district that would limit row house occupancies to single families.

“This particular house is a serious example of what can go wrong,” said Queens Civic Congress President Richard Hellenbrecht. “It just towers over everything. Every row house district in the city could eventually fall into the same rut.”

Oversized homes in low-density areas could also worsen congestion and inundate local schools, the local leaders said.

“It’s just a situation that can’t be set aside,” Capalbi said. “It’s a situation that affects much of our borough.”

Councilmember Peter Koo has also stepped in to help the group catalogue.

“If you see something out of context, say something by taking a photo and contacting the civic association,” said Koo’s spokesperson, Jonathan Chung. “Together, we will fight the blight.”

Residents can e-mail submissions to FightTheBlightQueens@gmail.com.

 

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MTA granted eminent domain powers for Flushing LIRR project


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo rendering courtesy of the MTA

The MTA has been given eminent domain powers to move forward with a long-awaited plan to upgrade the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) station in Flushing.

The agency’s board voted Jan. 29 to approve the potential use of eminent domain to acquire a one-story building at 40-36 Main St., currently owned by Ou Jiang City Supermarket, an MTA spokesperson said.

It may be a necessary measure in order to continue with a plan to reconfigure the Flushing-Main Street station’s east and westbound entrances.

“We’re hoping not to have to take that step,” said MTA spokesperson Aaron Donovan, adding that a State Supreme Court judge in Queens would still need to sign off on the use. “We are hoping to negotiate with the building owner to arrive at a way to acquire that property.”

The MTA wants to construct elevators and wide staircases to make platforms more visible and handicapped accessible — a plan long welcomed by local leaders.

“The LIRR’s Main Street facility was built in the 1950s and is in dire need of an upgrade,” said Councilmember Peter Koo.

Koo said he has received multiple complaints from elderly and disabled riders of the station’s dim lighting and lack of accessibility.

Dian Yu, executive director of the Flushing Business Improvement District, said the “hideous” blight has also become a nightmarish “dumping ground” for garbage.

“Our community has had to deal with these terrible conditions for way too long,” Koo said. “I’m glad this train is finally pulling out the station.”

Design work is underway, and construction is slated to begin in 2015, Donovan said. It is unclear when the project is expected to end.

The station is not expected to be impacted during morning and evening rush hour commutes, Donovan said, but there may be temporary closures during off-peak hours.

The project was expected to cost $8.5 million in 2012, MTA-LIRR President Helena Williams previously said. MTA officials now say the project’s budget is under review.

 

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Celebrate the Year of the Horse with Lunar New Year events in Queens


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Mike DiBartolomeo

The Year of the Horse is galloping in with an array of exciting cultural festivities. 

This Lunar New Year, celebrated on Jan. 31, marks the 4,712th year on the Chinese calendar.

Regarded as one of the most important holidays in the Far East, Lunar New Year is customarily celebrated with a lively parade — complete with fiery, ornate dragons — and a colorful fireworks display.

CLICK HERE TO SEE LAST YEAR’S LUNAR NEW YEAR PARADE IN FLUSHING

Each year is named for one of the 12 figures of the Chinese zodiac.

To many, the horse is a symbol of competition, victory and the pursuit of freedom and passion.

“The spirit of the horse is recognized to be the Chinese people’s ethos — making unremitting efforts to improve themselves,” said Councilmember Peter Koo. “Such is also the spirit of the Flushing community.”

“With several projects taking off in northeast Queens, 2014 will bring exciting changes to Flushing and its surrounding area,” Koo said.

New Yorkers hoping to celebrate the Lunar New Year need not look very far.

Chinatown in Manhattan will ignite with New Year spirit Feb. 2, as the 15th annual parade dances downtown, starting at Little Italy through Chinatown at 1 p.m.

In Queens, on Feb. 8, Flushing will flood with festival-goers watching the 18th annual Lunar New Year Parade as it makes its way down Main Street.

Booths dishing out ethnic treats are set to line the streets for attendees hoping to grab a tasty snack while watching a beautiful fireworks display.

It is expected to start around 10 a.m. on Union Street and 37th Avenue. It usually ends at Main Street and 39th Avenue.

Last year, thousands flocked to the celebration to ring in the Year of the Snake.

Flushing Town Hall (FTH) also has a two-month lineup of music, art, dancing, calligraphy and mask making to celebrate the holiday and its rich history that dates back centuries.

“Since the inception of this festival at Flushing Town Hall, the Lunar New Year events have been able to bridge generational divides and unify cultures throughout Queens and abroad,” FTH Executive Director Ellen Kodadek said. “It’s a wonderful way to kick off the dawn of a new year.”

 

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Borough Board casts vote in first meeting of the year


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

The Queens Borough Board approved the $1.5 million sale of a vacant Flushing lot Monday, during its first meeting of the year.

Board members unanimously voted to allow the city’s Department of Citywide Administrative Services to dispose of a 2,500-square-foot parcel in the heart of Flushing to an entity of the city’s Economic Development Corp.

The property at 135-15 40th Rd. will then be sold to developer Success 88, to be built into a six-story building with commercial and office space. It will also have a community facility, which includes a school for English learners.

“This is a very good project,” said Councilmember Peter Koo, who represents the area. “It will bring prosperity and jobs to the community.”

Then-Borough President Helen Marshall approved the city’s ULURP plans in October.

The $4.5 million project is expected to begin construction in 2015 and end in late 2016, officials said.

Voting members of Monday’s board included Borough President Melinda Katz, the borough’s City Council delegation and Community Board 7 Chair Gene Kelty.

“Even though it’s my first meeting as the borough president, it’s not everybody else’s first meeting,” Katz said. “You guys have been doing great work, and I look forward to continuing that.”

“I look forward to having a very active borough board,” Katz said. “It’s an exciting time for us.”

Developers of the long-delayed Flushing Commons project also updated the board on changes to its $850 million plan, including a parking strategy that would keep the lot’s 1,144 spaces during construction.

“This will have a softer impact on the community,” said Michael Meyer, president of F&T Group. “I think it’s a win-win-win. We’re excited we’re finally getting started.”

The two-phase upscale complex, when complete, will include a total of more than 600 residential units, 500,000 square feet of retail space, a 62,000-square-foot YMCA and a 1.5-acre space with a fountain plaza and amphitheater.

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Turner, Ragusa both claim victory to lead Queens GOP


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photos

The Queens Republican Party civil war is not over, and Phil Ragusa did not reclaim his throne yet, his opponents say.

Both Ragusa and former Congressmember Bob Turner have declared themselves winners in the election to head the Queens GOP after a six hour contentious meeting on September 27.

According to Party officials, Ragusa won re-election as chair by 52 percent of votes cast by district leaders and state committee members. His challenger, Turner, garnered about 48 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results.

But Councilmember Eric Ulrich, an outspoken critic of Ragusa, said Turner in fact had higher tallies than reported and had the support of “a clear majority” of voters.

There was no independent monitor in the room to count the votes, he said, and the Party’s leadership had thrown out valid proxies.

“The county’s members are using fuzzy math,” Ulrich said. “Their attempts to disqualify the proxy votes of duly elected county committee members are shameful. When every single vote is counted, it is clear that Bob Turner is the chairman.”

Both Turner and Ragusa have submitted certificates of election with the state and city Board of Elections.
Ragusa released a statement, saying he had been declared the “clear winner.”

“I am honored and humbled by the show of support given to me by Queens County Committee and State Committee members,” he said. “I will continue to lead the party honorably and faithfully and will work to unify the party so that the

Queens GOP continues to grow and become even stronger in the future.”

Turner said he was confident court litigations over the next few weeks would find him victorious.

“We know we won,” Turner said. “This is going to have to be solved at a different level.”

A similar internal battle occurred in 2011, when both Ragusa and former Councilmember Tom Ognibene claimed victory, though Ognibene was later defeated.

Ulrich, an insurgent of the Queens GOP, has long called for Turner to take over Party leadership, especially after a bombshell corruption scandal emerged this April.

Queens GOP Vice Chair Vince Tabone and Republican Councilmember Dan Halloran were among a handful of officials indicted in a bribery scheme to get Democratic State Senator Malcolm Smith on the GOP mayoral primary ticket.

Shortly after Tabone resigned from his post, more than a dozen Republican State Committee members wrote Ragusa a letter, asking him to step down, too, and allow Turner to take over.

The county boss, who was not accused of any wrongdoing, stayed on and won re-election earlier this month to his district leader post, beating back challenger and Ulrich ally Sal Bacarella.

Others elected to the Queens GOP include Robert Beltrani as executive vice chair and James McClelland as first vice chair. McClelland served as chief of staff to Councilmember Peter Koo and recently left to work for State Senator Simcha Felder.

 

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Former Knicks forward Larry Johnson greets players at Flushing basketball tournament


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Councilmember Peter Koo sponsored a basketball tournament Saturday morning in Flushing, which highlighted a guest appearance by two-time NBA all-star and former Knicks forward Larry Johnson.

The third annual Bland Basketball Tournament featured matches with young children, high school players and adults. The goal of the tournament is to bring more players and attention to the basketball court of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) James A. Bland Houses, which are in need of repair.

“I think [basketball] is a good sport. It builds team spirit and this is what America is about, working as a team,” Koo said. “As councilmembers we like to help the community, especially what they call ‘the disadvantaged.’”

Koo donated t-shirts and trophies to the tournament and called Madison Square Garden, which owns the team, to have the former NBA Rookie of the Year Johnson make an appearance.

Johnson, who averaged 16.2 points per game and 7.5 rebounds during an 10-year career with the Charlotte Hornets and Knicks, was also the John R. Wooden awardee during the 1990-91 season, which is given to the most outstanding player in college basketball. Johnson met the kids and took pictures, then he did the tip off to start the matches.

“With everything going on in New York we just want to fill the courts,” Johnson said. “It means a lot to me; it warms the heart.”

Because the courts are part of the Bland Houses, the jurisdiction falls under NYCHA and not the Parks Department.

Koo has been in touch with the housing authority to get the park revitalized, repainted and fix the court’s slant. He plans to fund the renewal, but is waiting for NYCHA to examine the cost to upgrade the courts. With a revitalized court residents hope more people from the Bland Houses will use it, instead of going elsewhere.

Craig Kinsey, president of the James A. Bland Resident’s Association, said Koo has been instrumental in organizing the tournament and supporting the court revitalization, and has hope that the courts will be upgraded soon.

“It’s very important when you could put a suit and tie on and still talk to regular folk,” Kinsey said of Koo. “I can always count on him.”

 

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DOT lifts parking restrictions along Northern Boulevard following complaints


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

JOHANN HAMILTON

The community has spoken, and they have been answered.

There have been increasing complaints from business owners as well as neighborhood residents that the parking restrictions on certain blocks along Northern Boulevard are more of a hindrance than a benefit.

Because of this, the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) will be removing the 4-7 p.m. parking restrictions along the south curb of Northern Boulevard between Parsons Boulevard and Utopia Parkway.

“As part of our ongoing efforts to provide safety and transportation enhancements to the Flushing community, DOT recently removed the evening rush-hour regulation from the south side of eastbound Northern Boulevard between Parsons Boulevard and Utopia Parkway,” said Nicholas Mosquera, a DOT spokesperson. “This change, which was requested by Councilmember [Peter] Koo and also supported by the Community Board 7 Transportation Committee, will provide additional parking for the community and customers of nearby businesses during these hours, while retaining loading areas for local deliveries.”

The current regulations have become an issue because they prohibit parking during prime shopping hours, making it more difficult for residents to find spots.

“It was frustrating for me personally because I could never park my car in that area while I was at work,” said Malik Johnson. “The parking restrictions started at 4 and most people get off at 5, so we’d wind up having to park much farther away.”

The actual process of changing the parking regulations, which will take about two weeks, began on August 26. In addition to these changes, there will be spaces to accommodate commercial vehicles so that businesses can still receive and send out their deliveries.

“I want to thank the Department of Transportation for concluding its study and agreeing to change the parking regulations along Northern Boulevard, from Parsons Boulevard and Utopia Parkway,” said Koo. “After numerous meetings with local merchants, it was clear that the previous regulation was adversely impacting their businesses. With the change of this regulation, it will allow the customers to park and frequent these local businesses.”

 

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Borough President backs National Tennis Center expansion


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

File photo

Borough President Helen Marshall is recommending the city and state go forward with proposed expansions at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

Marshall’s Borough Board was one councilmember short at the Monday, April 8 meeting to take a vote, thus forcing her to give her ultimate “yes” recommendation.

“While the Borough Board is not voting tonight,” Marshal said. “I am submitting my formal recommendation later this week. And I can tell you that I am insisting that any alienated parkland must be replaced.”

During the Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP), the six voting Community Boards were split on the project. The three voting Community Boards that voted yes attached conditions mainly focused on the US Tennis Association being part of a conservancy for the park.

The plan, if approved next by the City Council and the state legislature, could begin this fall, according to USTA officials. Roughly 800 full-time construction jobs are expected for Queens workers over the six-year construction period.

While the project will only eat up about 0.68 acres of green space to the south of the Tennis Center, USTA has now promised to replace that land.

Danny Zausner, chief operating officer at the USTA, said lowering the southern border would ease foot traffic during the US Open. The relocated connector road, currently on the property leased to USTA, would now include sidewalks if the plan is approved.

Expansion at the tennis center and USTA’s community outreach have been questioned by some, however.

Councilmember Peter Koo, one of four city lawmakers at the meeting, told Zausner that small business owners in the past said they were rejected when trying to work with USTA to drive tennis fans into Flushing during the US Open.

Zausner, addressing Koo’s questions, said the association had worked with local businesses in surrounding neighborhoods, including Corona and Flushing, and had seen productive economic revenue to those areas.

But while there had been success, with Zausner pointing to the Sheraton LaGuardia East in Downtown Flushing, he said the USTA could further dialogue with more business owners.

“They [patrons] come for the day session, they run out for dinner either on the Corona side or the Flushing side, and then they come back for the night session,” Zausner said after the meeting. “As I mentioned to the councilmember, I think we’re doing a lot already but there’s no question we could be doing more.”

Borough President Helen Marshall delivers her remarks on expansion at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. (THE COURIER/Photos by Terence M. Cullen)

 

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Three more eye race in 20th City Council District


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photos

Three Flushing candidates with histories of failed bids for office are now eying another election.

Democrat John Scandalios and Green Party candidate Evergreen Chou will try their luck at unseating incumbent Councilmember Peter Koo in the 20th District in this year’s City Council election.

Republican Sunny Hahn, a retired city human rights specialist, said she is contemplating a run but has not decided. She is the only one so far to register a campaign committee with the state’s Board of Elections.

“I was not sure what I was doing last year. So many things went wrong,” said Hahn, 60. “I really did not do my best.

That’s what I realized afterward. This time, if I decide, I’d do everything I can and really try to win the election.”

Hahn and Scandalios were among several candidates to lose their Assembly bids last year to Assemblymember-elect Ron Kim. Chou has had three unsuccessful runs for higher office, including his recent congressional loss to now-Congressmember Grace Meng.

But the three say they have honed their campaign techniques.

“I started thinking seriously that I could do this,” said Scandalios, 50, a former comic book store owner. “Frankly, I felt I get a lot of nothing from elected officials. We really need elected officials that work for the people.”

Scandalios did not even make it to the primary in the most recent 40th Assembly District race. He had an insufficient number of signatures and was bumped off the September 13 ballot.

Chou ran as a Green Party nominee in 2009 to replace then-Councilmember John Liu and also against ex-Assemblymember Jimmy Meng in 2002.

The 53-year-old ultrasound technician said he wanted to see more affordable housing and jobs in Flushing.

“These are basic rock-bottom issues that the people in Flushing need, and we’re not getting it from the major parties,” he said. “To me, it’s been like an ‘economic Sandy.’ We’re not helping the people that are in need.”

James McClelland, Koo’s political advisor, said candidates were welcomed to join the race.

“More people in the race give people more of a choice,” he said. “But the councilman is confident that his record and community support will allow him to be victorious in the primary and in the general election.”

 

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Queensborough students connect with Korean ‘comfort women’


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Queensborough Community College

Ok Sun Lee was kidnapped by Japanese soldiers at age 15.

She was raped on average 30 times a day.

She spoke so history would not repeat itself.

Korean “comfort women” recounted their tales of survival to a group of students at Queensborough Community College’s Kupferberg Holocaust Center. The survivors represent a small handful of the 200,000 young women forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Army in World War II, according to accounts.

“She was just a little girl,” said student Alexander Crombez. “When you’re face to face, hearing about completely horrible events, things we can’t imagine as being possible, it feels much more immediate. These are people who are grandparents.”

Crombez, 19, of Flushing, said he and eight others studied the history of World War II in East Asia before receiving a firsthand account of the brutalities from the comfort women through videoconference. Most of them are now in their 90s, living in South Korea, students said.

“That’s when it moved from an academic type setting to a more personal, emotional trip,” he said. “It’s hard not to imagine the terror she went through when she was a young child.”

Student Wei Wu Li, 22, said he interviewed Ilchool Kang. Soldiers in the comfort station, he said, cracked the back of her head open because she drank water without permission.

“That was a heartbreaking story,” Li said.

The group of scholars said it was their goal to ensure the tales are remembered.

“It is because these students have studied the atrocities committed against the women of Korea during World War II that they have emerged as spokespersons for social justice,” said Dr. Arthur Flug, executive director of the Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center. “By doing so, they have guaranteed these women that they will not be forgotten.”

Councilmember Peter Koo said he is pushing for a Flushing street to be named in honor of the comfort women. State Senator Tony Avella hopes to soon announce a resolution memorializing them.

 

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Grace Meng sworn in as first Asian-American from NY in Congress


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Maggie Hayes

The Courier tagged along on a bus trip to Washington, D. C. as the 113th Congress was sworn in.

It’s five in the morning, and over 100 people gathered outside in Flushing, anxiously waiting to board buses making the trek down to our nation’s capital to watch the 113th Congress — and the first Asian-American from New York — be sworn in.

Former Assemblymember Grace Meng made history last November when she was elected to represent the 6th Congressional District.

Community leaders and constituents journeyed to Washington, D.C. on Thursday, January 3 to witness her, along with Hakeem Jeffries, Gregory Meeks and Steve Israel, officially become members of the 113th Congress.

“We are very proud today,” said Councilmember Peter Koo. “It’s very historic. I hope that she [Meng] will be a role model and a trailblazer for the new generation.”

After the drive to D.C., supporters were able to watch the newly minted Congressmembers cast their first vote for House Speaker, and then be officially sworn in to the new session.

Hakeem Jeffries, Meng’s former colleague in the Assembly, was also sworn in to represent the 8th Congressional District — which includes Howard Beach, Ozone Park and Lindenwood. Jeffries faced a comparatively lighter general election than Meng, after the Brooklyn-based legislator beat Councilmember Charles Barron in a June primary election.

Incumbent members of Congress Joseph Crowley of the 14th District, Gregory Meeks of the 5th District, and Steve Israel of the 3rd held onto their positions in the House and were also sworn into the new session.

After the swearing in ceremony, Meng joined her constituents and spoke about upcoming plans in her new position. Gun control legislation, immigration reform and passing the Sandy aid bill are at the forefront.

“There are a lot of issues that we need to work on, and I look forward to working with you,” Meng said. “And you all are the eyes and ears of our community.”

 

New council lines divide interests


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYC District Commission

Small changes will be made to several city council lines in Queens under the first draft of new districts, but some say the lines break up areas with a common interest or concern.

The drafted lines are in sync with data from the 2010 census to even out population distribution throughout each district. A number of Queens residents spoke out about line changes at a public hearing last month, where they asked that some neighborhoods stay intact regarding representation.

A second round of hearings will begin on Tuesday, October 2 and continue through Thursday, October 11.

Warren Schreiber, president of the Bay Terrace Community Alliance, said that while his neighborhood would not be shifted, Mitchell-Linden would now be taken from the 20th District to the 19th. The problem with this, he said, was the demographic in the area wanted to stay intact because of a shared, common interest.

“They kind of wanted to stay where they were,” he said, referring to the Asian demographic in Mitchell-Linden that is currently represented by Councilmember Peter Koo.

Schrieber said the redistricting should not be politically motivated — to keep an incumbent in or remove someone — but rather should care about the common concerns of a demographic.

“It should be up to us, we decide who our elected officials are going to be,” he said. “I think it’s wrong; it erodes our political system. We don’t get the best representation.”

NYHQ celebrates ER expansion


| sarahyu@queenscourier.com

DSCN0034w

New York Hospital Queens (NYHQ) just keeps growing.

On Monday, June 25, hospital administrators and elected officials such as Senator Toby Stavisky, Borough President Helen Marshall and Councilmember Peter Koo proudly cut the ribbon to celebrate the completion of the latest expansion of the emergency room.

Earlier this year, NYHQ celebrated the opening of its Urgent Care Center, which allowed the emergency department to expand community access to health care by making more beds available.

HEAL-NY (Health Care Efficiency and Affordability Law for New Yorkers), a state grant-funding program that supports the restructuring of New York’s health care system, funded the expansion of the emergency room and the completion of the Urgent Care Center for the hospital.

“We’re very fortunate to be able to open this emergency component and we were very fortunate to receive HEAL-NY money for this,” said NYHQ president and Chief Executive Officer Stephen S. Mills. “We try to take advantage of opportunities to provide more access for the population that needs it.”

To go along with the additional space, Marshall is giving NYHQ $300,000 from her capital budget toward the purchase of essential patient care equipment.

“We have increased the number of inpatient beds, have expanded community access to ambulatory care and opened a new urgent care center and today we cut the ribbon,” Marshall said. “I’m thankful to have this medical institution in the borough of Queens and I’ve continued to show my support and appreciation by awarding funding through my capital budget.”

 

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Councilman Peter Koo going ahead with controversial memorial

City Councilman Peter Koo is moving ahead with his controversial proposal to honor Asian comfort women and mulling several Flushing spots for a possible street-renaming and memorial. Read more: [New York Daily News]

Teachers, parents urge city to remove Rockway Park middle school principal

Teachers and parents of students at a Rockaway Park middle school are trying  to convince the city to replace the school’s embattled principal. Staffers at Middle School 318 allege that Principal Linda Munro mismanages school resources and routinely bullies teachers by yelling at them in front of students and issuing poor ratings. Read more: [New York Daily News]

Giants tackle busted for DWI with .18 blood-alcohol level: police

Giants starting left tackle David Diehl was busted for DWI in Queens last night — with his blood-alcohol level allegedly more than twice the legal limit — after smashing into parked cars, police sources said. Diehl, 31, a member of both of Big Blue’s recent Super Bowl teams, was driving his black BMW when he struck two vehicles on 35th Avenue near 31st Street in Astoria at around 8:20 p.m., the sources said. Read more: [New York Post]

Field-rushing fans get boot from NYC stadiums – but disguises get ’em back in


Baseball cap: check. Mets jersey: check. Fake moustache: check. That’s the pre-game ritual of Craig Coakley, 32, of Bayside, Queens — better known in Mets nation as the streaker who slid into second base at a game during Citi Field’s inaugural season. Read more: [New York Post]

Yankees Sweep Mets In Subway Series

The Yankees are kings of New York for now, as they swept the Mets in the Subway Series, finishing off the Amazins with a 5-4 Sunday win in Yankee Stadium. In the bottom of the seventh inning, Mets were up 3-0 when Russell Martin lined one just over the right field fence to bring the Bronx Bombers within 1. Read more: [NY1]

Politicians push to grade MTA subway stations


| RubenMuniz@queenscourier.com

subway

If the city council has its way, you may soon know how clean – or dirty – your subway is.

Councilmembers have proposed a plan to rate all 468 subway stations in New York City, similar to the grading system used for the city’s restaurants.

The MTA, however, has publicly rejected the plan to grade a system that runs across five boroughs.

“We’re not considering it,” said MTA spokesperson Kevin Ortiz.

Commuters, on the other hand, have had mixed reactions to the proposal.

Vanessa Lopierre, a recent graduate of CUNY City College, said she would give the Union Turnpike-Kew Gardens station on the “E” and “F” line a grade of “C”.

But Matthew Lebourne, a Richmond Hill resident, said he would give the same station a “D”.

Lebourne thought the grading plan was a good idea.

“It would give the MTA an idea of what customers think,” he said, on his way to work.

Currently, councilmembers are working on a resolution – in its early stages – to push for the grading system, said James McClelland, chief of staff for Councilmember Peter Koo, who has been lobbying for the grades.

Criteria would include cleanliness, water, garbage and graffiti.

If the resolution is passed, however, the MTA – a state organization – does not have to abide, as it is non-binding.

In that case, said McClelland, the council would strongly encourage state officials to push the MTA into a system.

If the city was to undertake the project itself, they would have to go through a non-profit third party, McClelland said.

Jason Chin-Fatt, a field organizer for the Straphanger’s Campaign, said the organization supported the idea of grading the subway system and holding transit managers more accountable. If the city was to initiate such a program, he said, it should be paying the bill.

“If [the subway system] was going to be graded by the city, they should pay to implement that program,” he said. “It should be on the city’s dime.”

Kimberly Eng, a senior at St. John’s University and a Fresh Meadows resident, said a station with a bad grade would not make her change her normal commute.

“I don’t think a grade is necessary because it won’t change the fact that it [Kew Gardens] is the closest train station to me,” she said. “I’m not going to inconvenience myself by going to another train station that is farther just because it might be ‘cleaner.’”