Tag Archives: Councilmember Peter Vallone

City Council announces restoration of Peter Vallone Sr. namesake scholarship


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy office of Councilman Paul Vallone

“The original Dream Act” — as some call it — is alive.

Thousands of eligible high school students across the city will once again be able to enjoy the rewards of a college scholarship, regardless of immigration status.

Officials announced Tuesday the City Council Merit Based Scholarship, once named after former Speaker Peter Vallone Sr., was restored after it was voted into the budget of the City Council for $11.1 million.

The scholarship was originally slashed in 2011 by former Speaker Christine Quinn after reported political infighting with former Councilman Peter Vallone Jr.

The reinstated scholarship will help aid 13,500 students as early as this fall who maintain at least a B average and seek to attend a City University of New York (CUNY) institution. It offers about $400 per semester for each recipient.

“By restoring the City Council CUNY Merit Based Scholarship, we have once again issued a challenge to every student in New York City,” said Councilman Paul Vallone, son of the former speaker. “If you make the commitment to be the best student you can be, then we will stand with you as we open the doors to a college education together.”

 

 

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VIDEO: Vallone releases first campaign commercial in BP race


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Video via Vimeo

Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., who is in a tight race with Melinda Katz for Queens borough president, has released his first campaign commercial. He is also the first borough president candidate to come out with a television ad.

Peter F. Vallone Jr. for Queens Borough President from Roberts Horowitz Creative on Vimeo.

 

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Civic Virtue statue leaves Queens


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence Cullen

The controversial statue, officially called “Triumph of Civic Virtue,” which stirred debate for the last few years, was hoisted from its pedestal on Queens Boulevard just before 5 p.m. on Saturday, December 15 as bystanders looked on — many of whom were saddened by the action.

It has been moved to Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn effectively leaving the borough on loan to the cemetery. Many have opposed the move for several reasons, particularly though for its artistic value and the manner in which it was moved.

A week before the move, which took close to 10 hours of preparation, Councilmembers Peter Vallone and Elizabeth Crowley joined with Community Board 9 and Triumph of Civic Virtue to rally against the move. The coalition alleged that those opposed had purposely been stymied from attending a November 13 hearing on the move to Green-Wood.

And just days before, Community Board 9 voted to oppose the planned move, also citing that the aged statue was a work of public art, given to Queens more than 70 years ago and should be preserved as such. The statue should have been restored and kept in Queens, said Community Board 9 chair Andrea Crawford.

See more photos of the statue’s removal

    

After Queens library assault, call for stricter laws


| editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

BY TERENCE M. CULLEN AND MAGGIE HAYES

Police are looking for a suspect who reportedly sexually assaulted a 10-year-old girl at the Pomonok branch of the Queens Library in the middle of the day.

“There are a lot of little children that are in [the library] by themselves,” said a 14-year-old who lives nearby. “You have nobody watching you. Instead you have people like this walking in, doing things and walking out.”

The suspect, described as a Hispanic man in his early to mid-20s, molested the girl around 4 p.m. on Monday, October 15. Police describe the man as 5’10” and 200 pounds, of light complexion with slick black hair pulled back in a bun.
“In this neighborhood, the library is like a babysitter,” said Patricia S., who lives just up the block from the branch on

Jewel Avenue and also frequents the library. “[Kids] run around through the aisles, no one is looking out for them.”
Police could not release any other details at this time, as the investigation is ongoing.

There are several registered sex offenders living within the vicinity of the library, according to the advocacy website Familywatchdog.us.

The teen noted that she has seen younger children get dropped off at the Pomonok branch by their parents or wait there after school to be picked up.

Joanne King, communications director for Queens Libraries, said the system always tries to ensure that everyone who frequents any branch feels safe and in a good environment.

“Queens Libraries are secure, family-friendly environments for education and enrichment,” she said. “The safety of our patrons and staff is always our number one priority.”

While sex offenders are banned from entering playgrounds, courts have ruled it unconstitutional to ban them completely from public libraries.

Just this summer, a man with a history of sexual-related run-ins with the law was arrested for inappropriately touching two young girls outside of the Flushing Library.

Councilmember Peter Vallone and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio as a result wrote letters to state legislators calling for registered sex offenders to at least be banned from the children’s reading rooms of libraries.

Following the Pomonok assault, de Blasio released a statement calling again for tighter laws against known sex offenders in children’s sections of libraries.

“Today in New York City, a sexual predator could walk into a children’s room at any library, and there’s nothing we can do to stop them,” he said. “We need a tougher law that bans convicted offenders from children’s rooms to deter would-be attackers and empower law enforcement to quickly intervene. We intend to work closely with the State Legislature to protect children in our libraries.”

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Tuesday: Overcast with thunderstorms and rain showers in the afternoon. High of 86. Winds from the SSW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 40%.Tuesday Night: Overcast with thunderstorms and rain showers. Low of 73. Winds from the South at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 60% with rainfall amounts near 0.5 in. possible.

EVENT of the DAY: Live at the Gantries with Christel Rice

Traditional Irish flute player and Philadelphia native Christel Rice has created a sensational and unique style with her music. She studied with the late Michael Rafferty of Ballinakill, Ireland where she learned the regional style of flute playing. Come see her preform for free tonight at Gantry Plaza State Park. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Glendale property owner in talks to lease vacant Cooper Ave. land to local nonprofit for a homeless shelter

A Glendale property owner is mulling a plan to turn a former factory into a shelter for the homeless, though community leaders have vowed to fight it. Read more: New York Daily News 

Vallone urges emergency lanes on Queens Boulevard

Forget bike lanes and pedestrian plazas: It’s time to accommodate emergency responders navigating Queens’ deadliest road, a lawmaker says. Read more: New York Post

Congressional Candidate Meng comments on her father’s bribe charges

As Democratic congressional candidate Grace Meng picked up the endorsement of former Mayor Ed Koch at City Hall on Monday, she spoke publicly for the first time about her father’s arrest on wire fraud charges. Read more: NY1

Judge who accused cop of assault says Queens DA is whitewashing probe

The Queens judge who accused a cop of striking him in the throat with a military-style chop says the District Attorney’s probe appears to be a sham. Read more: New York Daily News 

DOE finds almost 70 percent of city students live in poor households

At Hillcrest High School in Jamaica, Queens, 65 percent of the students live in households that earn under $30,000. That is double the figure of just three years ago. While Hillcrest saw one of the biggest jumps, student poverty has increased citywide. Read more: NY1

Bratton makes rounds

Former New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton is signaling his interest in succeeding Commissioner Raymond Kelly, holding private meetings with potential mayoral candidates during which he’s discussing public-safety strategies and his desire to return to service. Read more: Wall Street Journal 

Veteran officer, gunman die in Texas shootout

A routine serving of an eviction notice to a man living near the Texas A&M University campus turned deadly for Brazos County Constable Brian Bachmann when the resident opened fire on him, leading to the death of the law enforcement officer and another man before the gunman was killed. Read more: AP

Ban sex offenders from library children’s rooms say pols


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

After a man sexually abused two children at the 41-17 Main Street branch of the Queens Public Library last month, New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and Councilmember Peter Vallone want to ban convicted sex offenders from entering children’s reading rooms.

Joel Grubert, who on July 7 was arrested for sexually abusing a 6- and 9-year-old at the library, is a registered sex offender. In 2004, he was convicted for possession of child pornography, and served time for kidnapping, reported the NY Post. Last year, a similar incident happened at another Queens Public Library branch in Astoria.

Currently sex offenders are not legally allowed to enter a playground, but the courts have ruled that a policy of banning sex offenders from libraries altogether is unconstitutional.

De Blasio and Vallone have written a letter to New York State Legislative leaders asking them to pass legislation that would make entering a designated children’s room at a public library a criminal offense for a sex offender.

“It is common sense that we keep sexual predators away from areas where young kids congregate,” said Vallone. “Children’s rooms in libraries are really indoor playgrounds for growing minds, and our kids need every protection we can give them.”

 

 

 

Queens politicians eyeing run for borough president


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

bp

Although Helen Marshall still has one year left on her third term as borough president, several big names are rumored to be eyeing a run for the job.

Councilmember Peter Vallone said that although he hasn’t made an official announcement yet, he’s seriously considering running for the borough presidency. Vallone, who currently represents Astoria, said he’s been traveling throughout Queens and getting a good reception from residents.

“I’m getting a great reception,” he said. “I am very pleased with the amount of support we’re finding.”

Vallone went on to say he would further his work in the city council if elected borough president.

“I’ve lived every day of my life in Queens,” he said, “and I’ve been fighting for Queens for the last 10 years.”

About $1 million has been raised for Vallone’s campaign, which he said is significantly higher than any other potential candidate.

While State Senator Jose Peralta’s office could not comment as to whether he is considering running, a committee has been formed called “Peralta 2013,” according to the State Board of Elections (BOE). The committee is active and is listed as a local committee for Queens County, said John Conklin, a representative from the BOE.

Another councilmember expected to run is Leroy Comrie, who currently represents the 27th District in the borough.

At deadline, Comrie was not available to discuss his interest in running for the spot. A campaign page on Facebook, however, was created in December 2011.

Others who have been rumored to run for BP were not able to confirm or deny a potential campaign.

Neighborhood watch program returns to Astoria after 25 years


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

All eyes are on Astoria, where, after 25 years without a neighborhood watch program, residents will be getting an extra line of defense.

Initiated by Councilmember Peter Vallone, the Astoria neighborhood watch program, expected to kick off at the end of this summer, will enlist 24 recruits, trained by officials from the New York Police Department. Block watchers will learn the basics in security, scanning the neighborhood for suspicious characters and behavior.

While this group maintains the ability to anonymously report information to police, they are unable to intervene.

According to Vallone, the area had been previously protected by a group called the Civilian Observation Patrol, which focused mainly on stopping graffiti. He hopes to expand the beat, broadening their training and the types of situations they can diffuse.

“We’re going to keep the entire neighborhood under surveillance,” said Vallone.

Astoria resident Bibi Burke joined the newly-resurrected watch program after witnessing an increase in crime throughout her neighborhood. Burke, who has lived there for over 20 years, hopes other locals assist in the group’s efforts.

Vallone, who chairs the Council’s Public Safety Committee, decided to implement a citizen watch program in Astoria following several disconcerting incidents that occurred last fall — including an attempted rape, three shootings over the course of a single weekend, several inappropriate touching occurrences and multiple car break-ins.

The councilmember also claimed there are presently fewer than 35,000 active police officers, down from nearly 41,000 in 2011.

“The police need extra sets of eyes and ears out there,” said Vallone.

If you are interested in joining a neighborhood watch program in Astoria, contact Vallone’s office at 718-274-4500.

Pol: Change traffic response policy


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Local politicians rallied to rule reckless riders off the road, saying bad drivers belong behind bars, not the wheel.

According to NYPD policy, an Accident Investigation Squad (AIS) is only deployed to crash scenes in which a victim has been declared dead or “likely to die” by a medical professional. For all other cases, patrol officers will fill out an accident report, but cannot launch an in-depth examination.

“What that means in real terms is that someone could speed through an intersection, cripple a person, and most likely that driver will not face criminal charges,” said Councilmember Peter Vallone, who held a joint hearing with Councilmember and Transportation Committee Chair James Vacca — examining the NYPD’s traffic accident response, investigations and enforcement of traffic rules.

Additionally, according to the NYPD, policy states only members of AIS can issue violations and make arrests when no police officer witnessed the accident.

“Far too many people have been injured, or narrowly avoided injury, and have seen the reckless driver responsible get away with it because the police have refused to investigate,” said Vallone, who is also chair of the Public Safety Committee. “People have been severely hit, and the drivers who injured them were not punished in any way other than perhaps getting a traffic ticket.”

According to data from the hearing, more New Yorkers died at the hands of reckless or speeding drivers than gunfire from 2000 to 2009, although NYPD Deputy Chief John Cassidy of the Transportation Bureau said there was an all-time record low of traffic fatalities last year.

Cassidy said there were 241 deaths in 2011 — a 39 percent decrease from 2001.

Still, Vallone said the “insufficient laws” are coupled with a drastically decreasing uniform headcount throughout the department. He said within the Transportation Bureau, there were only 211 highway officers in 2011 — down from 376 in 2001.

“We need to stop allowing our police department to be decimated. That is obviously going to have an impact when it comes to enforcement,” said Vallone. “We hope that this hearing will yield information that will keep our streets safer for all — [especially if you] have been injured at the hands of a reckless driver who got away with it due to our current laws.”

Pending legislation supported by Vallone and Vacca calls on the state to give police officers authority to issue summonses even if the officer was not present at the time of the accident, as long as the officer has reasonable cause to believe the violation was committed by the driver.

“It does not seem to be a priority for the NYPD to weed out these dangerous motorists who are harming innocent pedestrians and bicyclists,” said Vallone. “We’re upset. Reckless drivers have been put back on the road and can injure more people.”

Homeless shelter halted


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Community concern about a possible homeless shelter was met with understanding when the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) stated that it has no plans to convert an Astoria motel into a full-time facility.

A recent endeavor, led by Councilmember Peter F. Vallone Jr., Senator Michael Gianaris and Assemblymember Aravella Simotas, hoped to halt a non-profit organization’s proposal to make the Westway Motel — currently a temporary, overnight facility for the less fortunate — full time.
“Once again our community sent a strong, united message and the DHS heard us,” Vallone said.
In January of 2012, Community Board 1 received notice that Housing Solutions USA submitted an application to DHS, in the hope of acquiring accommodations for 120 homeless families.
The Westway Motel has acted as a temporary shelter since 2006. According to local officials, the facility has been the subject of complaints — ranging from car and home break-ins to prostitution — from residents living in the surrounding area.
Vallone argued that the Astoria community could not support the burden of full-time homeless housing.
“This community of one- and two-family homes can’t sustain the strain of a full-time homeless shelter,” said Vallone. “It has always been my position that we need to be responsible for our homeless population, but not at the expense of homeowners. We have endured the current terms, but under no circumstances will we allow a full-time shelter.”
Simotas said that while the city has a responsibility to care for its homeless, that effort should not be done while sacrificing the comfort and safety of other residents.
“Placing over 100 homeless families in a residential community without sufficient access to transportation, grocery stores and other amenities does a disservice not only to those individuals, but to our local residents as well,” said Simotas.
According to a representative from Simotas office, The Westway Motel is going to remain a part-time shelter.

Astoria against homeless shelter


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

The Astoria community is hostile towards a potential hostel that would house the local homeless.

Officials and residents banded together against a proposal to turn the Westway Motel – a current impermanent haven for homeless families — into a full-time shelter.

In January of 2012, Community Board 1 received notification that a non-profit organization, Housing Solutions USA, submitted an application to the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) in the hopes of acquiring accommodations for 120 homeless families.

The Westway Motel has acted as a temporary shelter for homeless single adults and families since 2006. According to local officials, the facility has been the subject of complaints — ranging from car and home break-ins to prostitution — from residents living in the surrounding area.

In 2007, Councilmember Peter Vallone mediated an agreement to transition the property from a long-term shelter to an overnight one. He feels the Astoria community cannot support the burden brought upon it by full-time housing.

“This community of one- and two-family homes can’t sustain the strain of a full-time homeless shelter,” said Vallone. “It has always been my position that we need to be responsible for our homeless population, but not at the expense of homeowners. We have endured the current terms, but under no circumstances will we allow a full-time shelter.”

Assemblymember Aravella Simotas understands that while the city has a responsibility to care for the homeless population, it should not be done at the expense of the rest of the community.

“Placing over 100 homeless families in a residential community without sufficient access to transportation, grocery stores and other amenities does a disservice not only to those individuals, but to our local residents as well,” said Simotas.

According to a spokesperson from DHS, the proposal regarding the Westway Motel is still being reviewed.