Tag Archives: Councilmember Ruben Wills

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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Queens pol calls it quits on homeless experiment, but plans to try again


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the New York Daily News

Councilmember Ruben Wills took a dive into the lives of our city’s homeless to highlight hardships for those living in poverty, but called it quits after being diagnosed with pneumonia.

The councilmember began his journey to get a better look into the lives and struggles of the city’s population on the streets on Dec. 17.

“I knew for a fact going into it I would never understand the homeless situation, but I wanted to begin to develop an area of which I can begin to legislate,” Wills said.

His experiment contained various parts, he said, including sleeping on the streets, making enough money to eat and travel and gaining access to health care.

“The homeless situation goes beyond the primary factors that everyone understands. It goes beyond somebody losing their job,” he said.

The councilmember started at the Q6 bus shelter on Rockaway Boulevard and Baisley Boulevard, dressed in jeans, a sweater, a camouflage jacket, scarf and hat. He slept there before heading to a nearby Gulf gas station to “pump gas for change” for transportation costs.

Throughout his experiment, he continued to pump gas and also held open doors for spare change. He said he “didn’t beg” and discovered his fellow homeless “don’t want to sit there and beg for money, they would rather be equipped to work.”

However, his first night out, Wills went to the hospital and was diagnosed with pneumonia. After receiving antibiotics, he spent the night at the Staten Island Ferry terminal and continued his project the next day, but ultimately cut it short the night of Dec. 18.

“The experiment wasn’t for me to go out and die, it was for me to get a glimpse into the conditions they have,” he said.

After getting a doctors clearance, Wills plans to hit the streets once again and navigate the city’s homeless shelter system. He added other councilmembers want to join him, but did not say who.

In the new year, Wills hopes to call “immediate hearings” regarding policy for the homeless and hold open-panel discussions featuring those who “have gone through the homeless experience and survived.”

“To understand it after two days is impossible,” he said. “But at least I can have a glimpse of where we need to go for change.”

 

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City Council passes Ozone Park rezoning


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of the office of Councilmember Eric Ulrich

The City Council passed a change in Ozone Park’s zoning map Tuesday to reflect the neighborhood’s building patterns.

Now, the zoning mandates will reinforce the area’s one- and-two-family residential homes and direct new residential and mixed-use developments to more commercial locations.

“The new zoning enacted into law today will protect Ozone Park from overdevelopment and help create a more livable neighborhood,” said Councilmember Eric Ulrich, who was born and raised in Ozone Park.

“It will also spur new modest development, especially in the commercial districts, thereby creating jobs and increasing property values,” he continued.

The rezoning is bounded by Rockaway Boulevard, Atlantic Avenue and 101st Avenue to the north; the Van Wyck Expressway and Lefferts Boulevard to the east; the Belt Parkway to the south; and the Brooklyn borough line to the west.

This marks the second largest rezoning in Queens, changing the map for roughly 530 blocks in Ozone Park. The vote was prompted by concerns from Community Boards 9 and 10 as well as local civic organizations and elected officials.

“Out of character structures and overdevelopment has become far too common in our communities,” said Councilmember Ruben Wills. “That is why it was important that we undertook these aggressive measures to protect the integrity of our neighborhoods.”

 

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Council approves Jamaica street renaming for Tuskegee Airmen


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Councilmember Ruben Wills

The City Council voted last week to memorialize the Tuskegee Airmen with a Jamaica street sign for their remarkable bravery during World War II.

A bill to permanently change the name of South Road between Merrick Boulevard and Remington Street to Tuskegee Airmen Way passed the Council unanimously on November 14.

Original crew members Dabney Montgomery and Wilfred Defour attended the stated Council meeting to show their support for the renaming.

“There are so many young people who don’t know the difficulties that their elders had to go through for them to be where they are today,” Montgomery said.

The airmen were the first black military aviators in the United States Armed Forces and fought against Nazi Germany.

“The Tuskegee Airmen have played an extraordinary part in America’s history and the civil rights movement,” said Councilmember Leroy Comrie. “By renaming part of South Road Tuskegee Airmen Way, we are helping to ensure future generations of Americans will remember their dedication, and look to them as examples of heroism in the face of extraordinary obstacles.”

After returning home, “they established themselves by becoming entrepreneurs, giving back to their communities and breaking down racial barriers,” Comrie said.

The airmen’s legacy will also be memorialized at CUNY York College. Currently, plans are underway for a tribute, such as a museum, on the campus along the new Tuskegee Airmen Way.

Of the 944 pilots, 80 were from New York and six of them were from Jamaica.

“This is the way you gain power, by proving that you can do the positive thing that others are doing,” Montgomery said.

The bill, introduced by Councilmember Ruben Wills, now awaits the mayor’s signature.

 

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Cricket gaining popularity in city


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Anwer Hossain

ANTHONY O’REILLY

When Anwer Hossain moved to New York City as a young child from Pakistan, he searched all over New York for a place to play his country’s beloved sport: cricket.

But it wasn’t as easy as he thought to find one.

“I used to love [playing] it as a child,” Hossain said. “I started searching for teams in New York, but it was really difficult to find one.”

That soon changed, as Hossain is now a part of the New York Cricket League and the Commonwealth Cricket League, currently playing for Castle Hill Cricket Club.

The sport of cricket is a way for immigrants- mostly from the West Indies and parts of Asia- to feel at home in America. Lately, more and more opportunities have been popping up for those looking to play the game, according to Hossain and cricket promoters.

Eric Ferrier, who founded the New York Softball Cricket League, said it was hard to round up members across the state when he was starting the organization.

But Ferrier, who is of Guyanese descent, boasts that today the league has nearly 2,500 players in Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Long Island.

He credits a lot of the success to word-of-mouth promotion from the league’s current players.

And although word of mouth is important to the game’s recent growth, some believe a lot of credit also belongs to the NYPD’s annual cricket tournament.

The tournament, which has been going on for about six years, is hosted in either Queens or the Bronx every year for players ranging from 14-19 years old. This year’s tournament was played in Flushing. Its aim is to develop a relationship with the city’s immigrant community.

“We do a lot of outreach work with the new immigrant community,” said Sgt. Adeel Rana, who founded the tournament.

Rana said, despite the improvements in the sport’s popularity, there is still much to do when it comes to the fields in which the sport is played.

“I think one of the top priorities should be creating more fields,” Rana said. “Every park has a baseball field, but not a lot have cricket fields.”

Those concerns have the opportunity to be addressed if Councilmember Ruben Wills’ proposed bill to create a cricket task force to help promote the sport is passed. Wills’ bill has been introduced to the City Council, but has yet to be voted on.

“I support [the bill]. The politicians are very important to getting things done,” Rana said.

While he is optimistic for the sport’s future, Hossain noted that cricket still has a way to go before it can become a mainstream American sport.

“I love the sport. I would do anything for it,” Hossain said. But he added, “It’s going to be really difficult to reach that point.”

 

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Queens incumbents sweep re-election bids


| editorial@queenscourier.com


LIAM LA GUERRE AND MELISSA CHAN 

All Queens City Council incumbents slid back into their seats after Election Day, some very comfortably, while others overcame contentious races.

In District 32, which pitted Republican incumbent Eric Ulrich against Democrat Lew Simon, the race came right down to the wire. Ulrich was eventually declared the winner with 53 percent of the vote to Simon’s 47, but the challenger has not yet conceded defeated.   

In another contentious race, incumbent Elizabeth Crowley of District 30 won 59 percent of the vote against political newbie Craig Caruana, who took 41 percent. Caruana gained support following an endorsement by mayoral candidate Joe Lhota and a fierce debate with Crowley.

Popular Democratic incumbents Peter Koo of District 20, Karen Koslowitz in District 29 and Mark Weprin of District 23 easily won their re-election bids this year after facing off with third-party candidates.

Koo swept his opponents — Evergreen Chou, Martha Flores-Vasquez and Sunny Hahn — by obtaining nearly 80 percent of the vote, according to a preliminary count. Koslowitz beat Jon Torodash, who ran on the Civic Virtue line, by more than a 90 percent margin.

Weprin, a contender for City Council Speaker, beat back a late challenge from retired police captain Joseph Concannon by taking 84 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results.

Concannon, who was running under the Reform Party, began a pointed bid against Weprin on August 8, with numerous police union backings, soon after the incumbent voted in support of two controversial police oversight bills in the Council.

South Queens Democratic incumbents Ruben Wills of District 28 and Donovan Richards of District 31 also dominated their races.

Wills won more than 95 percent of votes over his challenger, Mireille Leroy, while Richards, who won a special election less than a year ago, took about 92 percent of votes.

Three Queens legislators ran uncontested in both the primary and general elections. Julissa Ferreras of District 21, Danny Dromm of District 25 and Jimmy Van Bramer in District 26 were all automatically re-elected.

 

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Queens pols face Bronx rivals in first Battle of the Boroughs Bowl


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Politicians turned into playmakers for a special touch football game.

Queens and Bronx politicians faced off in the first ever Battle of the Boroughs Bowl at Monsignor McClancy High School in East Elmhurst Sunday.

The touch football event was organized to raise money by collecting donations, with all proceeds going to the United Service Organizations (USO) and the Wounded Warriors Project.

“At the heart, the core of this little fun outing that we are having, where hopefully no one will be hurt, is a really serious intent, and that intent is to help our veterans,” said Assemblymember Mike Benedetto, who is chair of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

The lawmakers in attendance ranged from all levels of government, including City Comptroller John Liu, State Senator Mike Gianaris, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., Assemblymember Mike DenDekker and many more.

“Off the field and out of the office it’s good to have a personal relationship with your colleagues,” said DenDekker, who helped organize the event.

In addition to playing for a good cause, many of the politicians competed for city bragging rights.

“It’s friendly, it’s a fundraiser for our veterans, but its also serious business,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. “We’re obviously competitive people, we are used to winning. And I am anxious to demonstrate to the people of my district that I can play football even though it’s been 20 years.”

In the end, Queens lost to the Bronx, 20-19.

 

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Two wanted for allegedly assaulting woman videotaping anti-gay altercation on subway


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

A subway ride following Gay Pride festivities last month turned from celebration to hate when two men got into an altercation with a group of LGBTQ youth.

Police are looking for those two men for allegedly assaulting a woman as she videotaped the incident on her phone.

The victim has had her own alert out for the suspects since July 2. She posted the video of the June 30 incident to YouTube in hopes of identifying and catching the two men.

According to the description that accompanies the video, the woman said she was riding on a Queens-bound F Train around 11:45 p.m. following the Gay Pride celebration when she heard the two men making loud homophobic comments.

Warning: This video contains graphic language and may be disturbing to watch.

“When a group of queer youth got on the train, the men proceeded to harass them, stating that the teens made them want to puke and that they would be killed if they were in Iran. The first assailant then threatened to rape them, at which point I took out my phone to document the incident,” she wrote.

“Seeing that he was being recorded, the first assailant lunged at me, violently grabbing my arms while trying to steal away my phone. One of the youth took the phone from me temporarily to protect it and told the assailant he shouldn’t attack a woman. When the assailant threatened to punch me, I took the phone back and ran to the other side of the train to push the emergency button and alert the authorities. At this point the second assailant got up and came towards me, grabbing my body and hands to try and get the phone to destroy the evidence. I yelled and told him I was an attorney. An onlooker then got up and stood between the assailants and myself, and another person left to get the train conductor,” she also wrote.

Durring the struggle, the victim suffered minor injuries to her hands and the suspects exited the train at the Roosevelt Avenue station, said police.

In a statement, the New York City Anti-Violence Project (AVP) said it was “deeply disturbed” by the video footage and encourages the community to report any LGBTQ violence.

AVP also said it is contacting the Queens District Attorney’s Office, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Councilmember Ruben Wills and community partner Make the Road New York about the incident.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

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Queens gun buyback nets nearly 30 weapons


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

D’aja Robinson’s life was taken at the age of 14 by a stray bullet. Her Jamaica community responded by hosting a gun buyback event in an effort to get weapons off the street.

On Saturday, the NYPD, district attorney and borough president put on the event at the New Jerusalem Baptist Church. Residents who came and turned in a weapon — no questions asked — received a $200 bank card in return.

Twenty-nine weapons were recovered, including 17 revolvers, eight semi-automatics, one rifle and three others, including BB guns and starter guns, police said.

“It is a commendable endeavor that Borough President [Helen] Marshall, District Attorney [Richard] Brown and the NYPD coordinated the gun buyback program in memory of the late D’aja Robinson,” said Councilmember Ruben Wills.

“Success will be ours the day we will no longer have to hold a gun buyback program.”

 

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Queens councilmember introduces bill to promote cricket in NYC


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Get ready for some wicket fun.

Councilmember Ruben Wills introduced a bill to promote cricket in the city as the game continues to increase in popularity.

“We just were dealing with organizations and groups… and one of the things that kept coming up is the lack of cricket fields,” Wills said.

The bill seeks to create a nine-person task force that would gather information about the sport and plan strategies to advance the game. The group will talk to people and look at the benefits, including health, educational and economic improvements that the sport could bring. Wills hopes that the task force results in creating more cricket fields around the city and he believes that it’s even possible that a dedicated cricket stadium could be built.

“We want to understand everything cricket can bring,” Wills said. “I believe the stadium is possible and I don’t believe it will take light years.”

The task force will be made of three members selected by the new mayor, one appointed by the council speaker, and five by the borough presidents.

The bill is being considered by the City Council’s Parks Committee, and Wills said they are getting ready for a hearing in September and a vote in October.

As a reflection of the popularity of cricket in the borough, Queens high schools have won the Public School Athletic League (PSAL) cricket championship in five out of six years since the sport was included in the citywide league in 2008.

 

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As family mourns teen, community expresses outrage over bus shooting


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

What community leaders are calling a “senseless act of violence” has left a 14-year-old girl dead, a family devastated and a neighborhood outraged.

D’aja “Asia” Robinson was shot and killed on Saturday aboard a Q6 bus near Sutphin Boulevard and Rockaway Boulevard. Robinson was on her way from a sweet 16 birthday party when a shooter allegedly fired multiple times into the bus from the sidewalk, police said.

“That was my only child. My heart. My everything,” Shadia Sands, the teen’s mother, said through tears. “I don’t know how to deal with this.”

Since the incident, there has been an outpouring of grief from the community. Friends and family covered a bulletin board near the bus stop with hundreds of messages to Robinson. They described her as a charismatic, sweet girl who was a gifted singer and dancer.

Her grandmother, Cheryl Sands, stood at the board, stroking pictures of “her baby.”

“I’d die myself for [her] to come back here and live [her] life,” she said. “My heart is bleeding. She was a good girl.”

The southeast Queens community came together on Tuesday to call on the shooter or shooters to come forward. NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly said police are looking for a suspect between the ages of 18 and 25 who was last seen wearing a black sweater, according to reports.

“South Jamaica is standing unified behind this family,” said Councilmember Ruben Wills.

Wills noted that prior to the shooting, the area went 255 days without a violent incident and said that South Jamaica is “not a hyper-violent community.”

The City Council announced it allocated $4.8 million to initiatives such as Cure Violence to put an end to shootings. Wills said there will be a meeting next month to discuss directing resources to the community.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said the city hopes to “make this a summer where we don’t have to ever gather again to talk about the end of a child’s life.”

“What we do know is that we failed [Robinson]. The United States Congress in particular failed to protect her,” said Congressmember Gregory Meeks.

Meeks called on the Congress to “enact meaningful gun control legislation to help stop the carnage in communities and homes and now buses across the nation.”

Students at Robinson’s school, Campus Magnet High School, wore purple, pink and blue earlier this week in memory of their classmate.

Anyone with information on the shooting is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS. The public can also submit tips by logging onto Crime Stoppers website or by texting their tips to CRIMES (274637) and entering TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

 

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Queens pols among elected officials secretly recorded by ex-State Senator Shirley Huntley


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

File photos

Former State Senator Shirley Huntley secretly recorded three Queens elected officials, among others, for federal authorities last summer, according to court documents.

State Senators Jose Peralta and Malcolm Smith and Councilmember Ruben Wills were named in a memorandum unsealed by a federal judge this afternoon.

The filing also named Brooklyn State Senators Eric Adams, John Sampson and Velmanette Montgomery; Bronx State Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson; Melvin Lowe, a former political consultant and associate of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman; and Curtis Taylor, a former press consultant for Smith.

None are necessarily accused of wrong-doing.

Federal authorities reportedly claim three of the recorded politicians were helpful in building cases.

Smith was arrested on April 2 after federal prosecutors said he tried to bribe Republican county leaders to let him switch parties and run on the GOP ticket for mayor. Sampson was arrested on Monday, May 6 and accused of embezzling money from the sale of foreclosed homes.

According to the court filing, federal officials approached Huntley last summer—before she herself was charged for allegedly covering up money funneled through a non-profit she helped establish. Schneiderman brought those charges.

In February, she pleaded guilty to trying to help cover up the $87,000 embezzlement. She will be sentenced in federal court on Thursday, May 9.

According to the memorandum, Huntley told government officials she knew of corruption that involved elected officials. She reportedly spoke with them over a course of six months.

Huntley, who lost a primary last September, invited the leaders into her home and recorded conversations on behalf of the FBI, the document said.

“The defense is aware that the government is currently investigating public officials based in part upon the information provided by Ms. Huntley and her recorded conversations,” Huntley’s lawyer, Sally Butler, said in the memorandum. “Ms. Huntley has not revealed her proffers or recordings publicly so as to maximize the government’s current efforts.”

A spokesperson for Smith said the embattled legislator could not comment on anything related to his arrest last month or new allegations that he met with Huntley. Wills’ office also did not have a comment at this time.

An inside source told The Queens Courier more names are expected to be released.

Two of the officials named in the filing are seeking higher office this year. Peralta is one of six candidates running for Borough President. Adams was vying to be the first black Brooklyn Borough president. A Peralta spokesperson would not comment at this time.

All elected officials in the probe were Democrats, shaking an already unsettled party in Albany. A Senate Democratic Conference spokesperson issued a statement on behalf of the caucus following the news.

“This is an extremely trying time in Albany,” he said. “If any charges are brought, the conference will take appropriate action.”

– With additional reporting by Maggie Hayes and Melissa Chan

 

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Councilmember Ruben Wills investigated for missing funds


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Facebook

Councilmember Ruben Wills is under investigation for $32,000 that seems to have disappeared.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is looking at Wills for the missing state-funded money that former State Senator Shirley Huntley put towards a nonprofit group that he headed, New York 4 Life.

Investigators are reportedly revving up their probe of Wills following Huntley’s guilty plea for embezzling taxpayer money and falsifying evidence.

One insider told the New York Post that Wills is “definitely on everyone’s radar.”

In August of 2010, the councilmember submitted a payment voucher to the state Office of Children and Family Services on behalf of New York 4 Life, seeking an advance of $33,000.

The office followed suit and provided the funds, according to the AG office. The account was depleted, signed by Wills, who did not respond to questions regarding where the money went. Schneiderman’s office issued a subpoena looking for documentation of the spending, but less than $1,000 was accounted for.

Wills did not respond to calls for comment.

 

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Wills investigated for missing $33,000 grant


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Councilmember Ruben Wills

A Queens councilmember is taking heat for failing to account for thousands of taxpayers’ dollars given to his non-profit organization.

Councilmember Ruben Wills is under investigation from State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman after he failed to account for a $33,000 grant for his nonprofit, New York 4 Life. He is also being reviewed by the city council.

“In light of troubling reports and court records evidencing Councilmember Wills’ lack of cooperation with a state investigation, including his assertion of his Fifth Amendment rights, we have referred this matter to the Council’s Standards and Ethics Committee for a formal review,” said Council representative Jamie McShane.

McShane added that Wills was removed from the Council’s Budget Negotiating Team and that all decisions about funding allocations for his district will be determined by Speaker Christine Quinn’s office.

Although New York 4 Life does not have a web page, the councilmember’s web site explains that the nonprofit is an organization “which has helped single mothers champion critical issues such as civic literacy and financial empowerment.”

The grant in question was reportedly approved from State Senator Shirley Huntley to New York 4 Life in 2008 for a single mothers’ breakfast, single fathers’ luncheon, a “children and youth obesity campaign,” and an “adopt a commercial strip” program, according to court filings.

However, after the money was paid by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) in September of 2010, neither Wills nor the organization responded with documents showing how the money was spent.

It is also unclear as to whether the events actually occurred.

The court papers also said the OCFS sent a letter to request the accounting of the grant or a refund in April, 2011, but the nonprofit didn’t respond, at which time OCFS contacted the Attorney General’s office.

Schneiderman’s office issued a subpoena in February of this year, but received no report of the money.

While meeting with lawyers from the AG’s office, Wills walked out during questioning, pleading the Fifth Amendment.

Published reports claim that Schneiderman has filed a motion to force New York 4 Life to open its books. Reports also claim that no tax returns were ever filed for New York 4 Life, which was initially registered to Wills’ residence, but was later changed to his 2009 campaign office.

Calls to Wills’ office for comment were not returned as of press time.

Wills was elected to office in November of 2010 by winning a Special Election, after the passing of Councilmember Thomas White Jr.

 

Junior Knicks League crowns champion


| brennison@queenscourier.com

JuniorKnicksGroupShotw

The Junior Knicks League, joined by a New York basketball legend, recently held its championship game at August Martin High School.

Former Knicks star John Starks came out to watch teams from Jamaica and South Ozone Park battle it out for the championship on Friday, March 30.

The Junior Knicks teams from P.S. 40 in Jamaica and M.S. 226 in South Ozone Park took to the hardwood, with P.S. 40 taking home the title.

All the participating schools — P.S.48, P.S.55, P.S. 62, P.S.155, P.S 160 and P.S.223 — attended the league’s championship game.

“I am proud to have funded the Junior Knicks program. This program introduced young men and women to the sport of basketball, promoted mentorship, team building, healthy habits, sportsmanship and parental involvement,” said Councilmember Ruben Wills. “It is important to look for every measure to expand the educational support communities beyond the walls of the school.”