Tag Archives: Craig Caruana

Elizabeth Crowley, Craig Caruana face off in heated District 30 debate

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

The first public debate between Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley and Craig Caruana was contentious.

The competitors faced off in a heated exchange on Monday. It was marked by frequent interruptions, yelling on both sides and cheers and jeers from attending residents of District 30, which includes Maspeth, Middle Village, Richmond Hill, Ridgewood, Glendale, parts of Woodhaven and Woodside.

The debate, which The Courier co-hosted, was organized by the Juniper Park Civic Association at Our Lady of Hope in Middle Village.

The showdown exploded from the very first question, which was about the Knockdown Center, a controversial arts hall in Maspeth that has hosted parties and is seeking a liquor license.

Crowley, who is in support of the center, said it will bring jobs and arts to the community.

“Do I support good jobs? Yes. Do I support arts as an economic engine? Yes,” Crowley said. “Now my opponent you will hear opposes this, and I believe it’s because he doesn’t have the ability to think outside the box when it comes to creating jobs.”

Caruana doesn’t believe the center will be used for arts, but as a club based on past parties that it has held.

“It’s not about jobs, it’s about hipsters coming from out of the area, creating a problem…” Caruana said. “This is a club that wants to sell liquor.”

The candidates sparred on various contentious projects in the community, such as the proposed Glendale homeless shelter, truck traffic and the Maspeth Bypass, the Ridgewood Reservoir development project and increased railroad garbage.

Many general questions were asked as well, including how the candidates would improve education, traffic problems, quality of life issues and decrease crime.

Crowley, who has been the councilmember for nearly four years, choose to answer questions based on her accomplishments, while taking jabs at Caruana.

Caruana, who has no experience as an elected official, stuck to his ideas to improve the neighborhood, relying on his background as a native of Middle Village and his work at the Pentagon.

Before the debate even got started crowds of Crowley and Caruana supporters were chanting at each other outside with placards, banners and megaphones for almost 20 minutes.



Glendale neighbors allege car shop operates illegally

| mhayes@queenscourier.com


Neighbors on one Glendale block say the nearby garage is a chronic nuisance.

“These people are lawless all day, every day,” said one woman who wished to remain anonymous.

The garage, nestled on a quiet block in Glendale, sees dozens of cars every day. Neighbors complain the owners’ cars stay parked on the sidewalks and down the street for days, inconveniencing residents.

“Everybody has to accommodate them,” said the woman. “If you’re a mom pushing a baby stroller, you have to go around them. They take over. They’re like bullies.”

However, owners Elsie Serrano and Oscar Ortega claimed they are running a completely legal operation.

“I have receipts for everything I have done here,” Serrano said.

The shop’s license to sell cars is up to date, and both Serrano and Ortega are licensed to run their business.

However, neighbors allege they do not sell vehicles, but illegally repair them.

Ortega said his store brings cars to a nearby Getty station for service and if the station is too busy, he will do an oil change or fix brakes himself. He added that the store also legally washes cars. However, neighbors said they have seen workers do larger-scale repairs.

“They’re fixing collision and mechanical problems,” said Danny, a resident who withheld his last name. “You can smell chemicals along our block. These are people that have no morals, no respect.”

Ortega said Danny is a “bully” with a temper, and the two have gotten into several arguments.

“I’m running a business. I don’t want to get into trouble,” he said.

Ortega said he does not need a license for his 79th Avenue garage because it is part of his business, adding there are no advertising signs on the site.

The owners frequently have their large family visit the site, and several neighbors said they blast music and intimidate residents at all hours of the day.

“People are just afraid of them,” said the woman. “Neighbors say, ‘I just lock my door and hide in my backyard. I don’t want them to bother me.’”

Other residents have taken video footage of the workers allegedly pushing cars up the street and rushing them into the garage.

The 104th Precinct has paid many visits to the site, handing out numerous tickets and summonses. Neighbors said police officers have told workers to shut down the operation, though the 104th did not return calls for comment.

The Fire Department has allegedly shut the site down four times, but the shop continues to reopen. The woman said she has not seen any police or fire presence at the site since April.

“It is things like this that help determine which way a neighborhood goes,” said Craig Caruana, community activist and City Council candidate.

Caruana has been working with Danny’s family to put an end to what they call a chaotic situation. However, the owners maintain their innocence. The site’s landlord could not be reached for comment as of press time.




Community activist Craig Caruana kicks off Republican run in District 30 Council race

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Craig Caruana

The race to represent District 30 on the City Council is on, with community activist and Middle Village native Craig Caruana throwing his hat in the ring for the Republican ticket.

Caruana is a member of organizations including the Knights of Columbus at Resurrection Ascension Parish, the Kiwanis Club of Glendale and the Juniper Park Civic Association.

Top issues on Caruana’s website include discretionary spending, stopping the increase in property taxes, bringing more healthcare options to the district, enhancing education, increasing small business support and reforming street parking.

“Someone has to start taking responsibility for the issues that are affecting all of our lives,” Caruana said.

The activist hopes to bring tax dollars back to the district and restore funding to civic and volunteer groups, schools, fire houses and police stations. He is also seeking to fight water rate increases by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

“DEP plans on increasing our water rate for years to come,” Caruana said. “Politicians should be telling us this plain truth, instead of pretending to be surprised year after year.”

Councilmember Eric Ulrich said his fellow Republican will bring passion to the 30th District.

“District 30 needs a fighter right now,” he said. “I know that when he’s voting on legislation that’s going to impact our quality of life, that he’s going to be the strongest advocate.”

Caruana faces incumbent Democrat Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley.