Tag Archives: Councilmember Rory Lancman

91-year-old WWII veteran fighting NYCHA for Flushing apartment


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

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Ninety-one-year-old Ralph Calinda has fought his fair share of battles over his lifetime.

He fought for the United States during World War II, he battles diabetes and high blood pressure every day, and now he’s facing a different conflict — keeping the apartment he has called home for more than 60 years.

Calinda lives alone in a three-bedroom apartment in the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) Pomonok Houses in Flushing. Through NYCHA’s downsizing policy, which moves residents who “overuse apartments” to smaller ones, the city agency wants to kick him out of his home.

They have sent letters to force him to take one-bedroom apartments, but in foreign neighborhoods such as the Queensbridge Houses in Long Island City and the Ravenswood Houses in Astoria. Finally, they asked him to move to an apartment in the Pomonok Houses, but it lacked essential appliances and was unfurnished. Calinda, who retired nearly three decades ago, believes he wouldn’t even be able to make the move physically or financially, since he depends on social security payments.

Councilman Rory Lancman and other politicians rallied with Calinda and his family against the NYCHA policy in a protest on Friday, to call on the agency to halt its downsizing of senior residents and to overhaul the initiative.

“They have lately stepped up in a very, very aggressive way,” Lancman said about NYCHA. “We are here today to demand that they stop and that they treat their long-time residents like valuable citizens of the communities that they’ve lived in, rather than as pieces of furniture they can move around from one place to the other.”

Calinda uses a cane to walk, and that’s only during the rare times he leaves his apartment. “Pop,” as he is known among family members, friends and neighbors, now enjoys painting, word puzzles and gardening.

But before he retired, Calinda used to build fighter jets for the Air Force. He even helped build the NASA space shuttles, and although Calinda wouldn’t say which one, he allegedly engraved the name of his late wife on the tail of one of the space rockets.

Calinda raised seven children from his apartment, which has six rooms, counting a living room, kitchen and a bathroom. He said he may have been willing to leave if NYCHA first came to him when his kids became adults and left 30 years ago, but not now.

“It’s been my home for so long, I just think it should be my home forever,” he said.

NYCHA has yet to return a request for comment.

 

 

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Rory Lancman details seamless move from Assembly to City Council


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

It may have been the smoothest transition in the city.

Councilmember Rory Lancman, sipping a 7-Eleven Super Big Gulp, detailed his seamless move from the State Assembly to the City Council Tuesday in a sit-down interview with The Courier.

“It’s a different ball game, when everything you deal with is the five boroughs,” he said. “But in terms of the district office and serving the community, there’s no difference at all.”

New to City Hall, but not to New York politics, Lancman, 44, won the open District 24 seat in a landslide victory Nov. 5.

He succeeds term-limited Councilmember James Gennaro in a district almost identical to the one he served in the Assembly from 2007 to 2013.

“Jim and I have known each other for a long time. He and I supported each other politically and legislatively for many years,” Lancman said. “I don’t think there could have been a more natural or productive handoff of responsibilities.”

The Fresh Meadows attorney said even during his tenure in the Assembly, nearly all constituent services were related to city issues.

Drinking Diet Pepsi, with a splash of lemon — his choice of beverage every morning — Lancman is quick with a quip.

On snow, he says he is “against it.”

“I have a longstanding policy of being against snowstorms, and I’ve been pretty consistent,” he joked, later adding the city’s first storm was well-handled by the new administration.

And in between multiple phone calls that he answers with his Bluetooth headset, Lancman is still trying to perfect his office space.

“We need a space heater in the conference room,” he tells his chief-of-staff. “Everybody is cold.”

As he slips into his next meeting, Super Big Gulp in hand, he apologizes to his guests from the Wildlife Conservation Society.

“I promise next time there will be coffee and warmth,” he said.

 

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Cheap Shots bar near St. John’s University may soon go dry


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A problematic bar near St. John’s University is facing its last call after a local community board voted against renewing its liquor license.

Community Board 8’s Liquor License Committee rejected Cheap Shots’ renewal application Monday, citing numerous complaints the 149-05 Union Tpke. bar has racked up since it opened in March 2010.

“This is the most I’ve heard about any establishment,” Committee Chair Michael Hannibal said. “There’s a concern.”

Rowdy customers break out in fights, repeatedly robbing neighbors in a residential area of a good night’s sleep, board members said.

Some have also been spotted urinating and vomiting in front of the bar, according to 107th Precinct Community Council President Carolann Foley.

“It appears to me your business is a cancer to the community,” said board member Marc Haken. “It is decaying the community. You have to be cut out of the community.”

Bar representatives have had multiple meetings with local civic leaders, but to no avail, the board said.

“It’s pretty serious,” said Councilmember Rory Lancman, calling the bar a “magnet for criminal activity” and the site of four arrests in the last year.

“Cheap Shots has failed to clean up its act and has instead remained a blight on our community,” he said.

The committee unanimously voted to shut down the renewal and urged the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) to follow suit.

The sobering news means Cheap Shots could be forced to close if it loses its ability to serve alcohol.

Its current liquor license expires Feb. 28. SLA officials did not immediately comment.

“Right now, we don’t know what this means for us. It’s basically in jeopardy,” said Louis Abreu, the bar’s owner. “I’m trying my best to fit in. It’s not easy, but I’m not throwing in the towel.”

The bar boss said he shells out at least $800 on security detail on weekends to keep a handle on commotions and often calls the police himself when fights erupt.

“What happened at the meeting was a lynch mob,” Abreu said.

 

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