Tag Archives: Dan Halloran

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Friday: Overcast with a chance of rain in the afternoon. Fog early. High of 70. Breezy. Winds from the South at 15 to 20 mph. Chance of rain 20%. Friday night: Overcast with thunderstorms and rain showers. Low of 50. Breezy. Winds from the South at 15 to 20 mph shifting to the WNW after midnight. Chance of rain 100% with rainfall amounts near 0.9 in. possible.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Cultural Crossroads – Korea Meets Greece

At 8 p.m., on Friday, April 19, the cultures of Korea and Greece will meet at Flushing Town Hall, located at 137-35 Northern Boulevard in Flushing. The VonKu Pak Drum & Dance Troupe perform Korean music and dance dressed in traditional regalia followed by Yianni Papastefanou and his ensemble in an evening of traditional music and dance from the Greek Isles. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

1 of 2 Mass. bomb suspects dead; suburbs shut down

Two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing killed an MIT police officer, injured a transit officer in a firefight and threw explosive devices at police during their getaway attempt in a long night of violence that left one of them dead and another still at large Friday, authorities said as the manhunt intensified for a young man described as a dangerous terrorist. Read more: AP

Indictment in Smith, Halloran mayoral bribery case

A federal grand jury has indicted State Senator Malcolm Smith and Councilmember Dan Halloran for an alleged bribery plot to rig the mayoral race, according to published reports. Read more: Queens Courier

Video shows beating of Queens girls

A beat down by bullies in Astoria, Queens, that was caught on video left two middle school girls terrified to be on the street in their own neighborhood. Now the girls and their parents are turning to police at the precinct to restore their sense of safety. Read more: Fox New York

‘Good riddance, Sandy’ party at Healy’s Bar and Grill in Rockaway on Saturday to celebrate removal of name from tropical storm database

A Superstorm-battered Queens pub is throwing a going away party for Hurricane Sandy. Read more: New York Daily News

NYPD inspector testifies ‘very few’ complaints of racial profiling over stop-and-frisk

The court case over the NYPD’s controversial stop-and-frisk program has been going on for one month. Read more: CBS New York

Mayor Bloomberg: Senate gun vote ‘a disgrace’

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Thursday called the defeat of gun restrictions in the U.S. Senate “a disgrace” and said “children lost.” Read more: Fox New York/AP

 

Dan Halloran staffers resign following councilmember’s arrest


| mchan@queenscourier.com

File photo

Embattled Councilmember Dan Halloran’s two top aides have jumped ship.

Chrissy Voskerichian, the legislator’s chief of staff, announced her immediate resignation on April 8. John Mulvey, Halloran’s legislative director, also announced he is quitting as of April 12.

“In leaving, I remain hopeful that the community will remember all of the hard work that went into preserving our neighborhoods and serving northeast Queens,” Voskerichian said in a letter.

Their boss was one of six officials arrested by the FBI last week for conspiring to rig the mayoral election, authorities said.

Halloran played a key part, officials said, in a bribery scheme to get Democratic State Senator Malcolm Smith on the Republican ticket for mayor.

According to the U.S. Attorney, he set up meetings between Smith and GOP county leaders while negotiating payouts. Halloran pocketed nearly $21,000 in cash in exchange for his help, officials said.

Voskerichian, 51, had worked for Halloran for close to four years. She spent the last two years as his chief of staff.

“I am incredibly proud of the work that the office has done,” Voskerichian said. “We resolved thousands of constituent cases, allocated millions of dollars in funding to local groups and worked hard to make the 19th Council District a better place to live.”

The former staffer makes no reference to Halloran’s scandal, which also involved the arrest of Smith, Queens County GOP vice chair Vincent Tabone, Bronx County GOP chair Joseph Savino and two upstate leaders.

Halloran’s official City Council website no longer lists the names of his staff members.

According to Kevin Ryan, Halloran’s spokesperson, the councilmember does not plan on resigning and looks forward to clearing his name.

“The councilmember greatly appreciates the hard work in service to the district that his entire staff has put forward, especially his chief of staff,” Ryan said. “Times like these can cause some staff members to reevaluate their career paths. He is sincerely grateful for every staff member’s service.”

 

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Cuomo cracks down on public corruption


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Governor Cuomo's Flickr

BY CRISTABELLE TUMOLA AND TERENCE M. CULLEN

In light of several recent political scandals, including the arrests of Queens legislators Malcolm Smith and Dan Halloran, Governor Andrew Cuomo is cracking down on corruption.

He announced the Public Trust act on Tuesday, April 9, which would make it easier to convict wrongdoers of public corruption under broader legal definitions.

“Preventing public corruption is essential to ensuring that government works and can effectively keep the public’s trust,” said Cuomo. “The Public Trust Act recognizes that crimes of public corruption should be treated more seriously than other white-collar crimes because when they break the law, they also break the public trust that the people have placed in government.”

Crimes expanded under the new legislation include bribery of a public servant, defrauding the government and failure to report public corruption.

The Public Trust Act would also limit immunity for witnesses testifying before a grand jury investigating official misconduct or government fraud.

“We welcome these important new tools that Governor Cuomo is proposing today. They will strengthen our laws and make it possible for prosecutors to more effectively investigate and prosecute public corruption,” said District Attorney Richard Brown.

If they’re found guilty of corruption-related offenses, legislators or associates will face tougher jail sentences.
Anyone convicted would also be prohibited them from “holding any elected or civil office, lobbying, contracting, receiving state funding, or doing business with the state, directly or through an organization.”

Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi, who chairs the chamber’s Oversight, Analysis and Investigation Committee, told Community Board 9 on April 9 that the Smith debacle was “one of the stupidest scandals” he ever saw.

Hevesi, whose father, Alan, is on parole after being convicted on a “pay-to-play” scandal, said Cuomo’s reforms would do away with government loopholes.

“Part of the reform that Governor Cuomo has brought today is called ending the Wilson Pakula system,” Hevesi said.

“When you’re talking about checks and balances for a bad system, the governor announced today that that’s one of the things he’s looking at.”

The Wilson Pakula Certificate requires three of the five borough party chiefs to approve a candidate from another party to run for office as a member of their own party. In Smith’s case, the Democrat needed the green light from three Republican party chairs.

Hevesi’s committee will soon push for its own legislation that will help investigate the misuse of state funds or poor behavior by elected officials. Because the last few chairs had short tenures on the committee, Hevesi said it’s been hard to get long-term legislation put through.

State Senator Joseph Addabbo, in a statement, said the legislation put forth by Cuomo was long-awaited but the first step.

Addabbo testified before the Attorney General earlier this year on the need for campaign finance reform – another effort to help clean up Albany and party politics.

“It shouldn’t take a number of recently-arrested elected officials to wake up the Legislature to enact tougher ethics and anti-corruption laws. In Albany, it’s long overdue,” Addabbo said. “I am hopeful that the State Legislature expands on these proposals and explores other means of addressing the issue, such as passing campaign finance reform, along with other pending legislative measures.”

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Wednesday: Mostly cloudy with a chance of a thunderstorm and a chance of rain in the afternoon. High of 77. Winds from the West at 5 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 50%. Wednesday night: Overcast with thunderstorms and rain showers, then a chance of rain after midnight. Fog overnight. Low of 52. Winds from the SE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 60% with rainfall amounts near 0.3 in. possible.

EVENT OF THE DAY: The Big Thing

At the Laughing Devil Comedy Club , get the New York area’s  freshest jokes by comedians vying to be the next big thing and become a club regular. The show also features some special guest headliners. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Council Speaker Christine Quinn blasts Councilman Dan Halloran’s ‘arrogance’

City Councilman Dan Halloran was a no-show Tuesday for the first council meeting since he was pinched by the feds last week, as Speaker Christine Quinn eviscerated him for sending out a “stupid” press release. Read more: New York Daily News

New York City councilman proposes crackdown on costumed characters

New York City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. introduced legislation Tuesday that would either ban or introduce tight regulations on costumed characters in New York City. Read more: CBS New York

Temptress who swindled elderly Queens man arrested after 6 years on lam

A temptress on the lam for six years after she was convicted of milking an elderly Queens man out of his life savings has been busted halfway across the country, authorities said Tuesday. Read more: New York Daily News

Quinn suffers small drop poll shows, but still outpaces opponents

A couple of weeks of constant battering cost City Council Speaker Christine Quinn a few points in the latest mayoral poll. Read more: New York Post

FEMA: Building a sea wall would change home elevation requirements

The community board in the Rockaways announced Tuesday that the city will spend $4 million on each of the five new lifeguard stands planned for this summer and $2 million on each of two public bathrooms to be built on Rockaway Beach. Read more: NY1

Obama budget targets millionaires, replaces sequester cuts

The White House on Wednesday proposed a budget that sharply trims the U.S. deficit over three years by forcing millionaires to pay more in taxes and enacting spending cuts that replace the “sequester” reductions that went into place last month. Read more: Reuters

Leaders call for changing of the guard in Queens GOP


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

File photos

Former Republican Councilmember Thomas Ognibene says there needs to be a change-up in the Queens GOP after years of infighting and what he called a negative influence by former vice chair Vince Tabone.

“I’ve believed for the last three to four years that it [leadership] had to be changed,” said Ognibene, who served in the Council from 1991 to 2001 and was the minority leader.

Tabone is charged with accepting $40,000 in bribe money to sign the Wilson Pakula certificate, to greenlight State Senator Malcolm Smith as a Republican for mayor. He resigned as vice chair on Wednesday, April 3, a day after his arrest.

Phil Ragusa currently chairs the Queens GOP.

The ideal person to replace Ragusa if he were to step down, Ognibene and others have said, would be former Congressmember Bob Turner, who lost a Republican U.S. Senate primary last summer and whose congressional district was cut up thanks to redistricting.

On calls to step down, Ragusa said he does not plan on giving up his position, as he’s not linked to the charges.

“We’re just moving ahead,” he said. “One person should not be able to affect the whole Queens GOP.”

Ognibene, now practicing law on Long Island, said the allegation that Tabone frisked a cooperating witness for a microphone was proof he was up to no good.

“That’s evidence of a guilty conscious,” Ognibene said.

Ragusa and Ognibene came into a leadership battle two years ago when a sect of the party voted to elect the latter as the GOP chair. A separate pact voted for Ragusa at the same time, with a judge finally ruling that Ragusa was rightful leader of the party.

While he was saddened by the allegations against Councilmember Dan Halloran, Ognibene said the alleged actions of some shouldn’t reflect on the GOP as a whole and “the Party will go on.”

A replacement for Tabone has not yet been named, Ragusa said.

“We’re going through our process and we haven’t named anybody right now,” he said.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Tuesday: Partly cloudy. Fog early. High of 75. Breezy. Winds from the WNW at 15 to 20 mph. Tuesday night: Mostly cloudy with rain showers. Low of 55. Winds from the WSW at 5 to 10 mph shifting to the South after midnight. Chance of rain 20%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: A Celebration of Queens Composers

At the Center for Mediation Services in Jamaica, the Quintet of the Americas will present a program featuring Wind Quintet by Beata Moon (Forest Hills), Quintet No. 2 for Winds by James Cohn (Douglaston), The Stuff of Comets by Dylan Glatthorn (Astoria) and Sincerita by Christopher Caliendo (Jackson Heights). Starts at 1 p.m. Free. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Queens middle school teacher arrested for alleged sexual relationship with student

A Queens public school teacher has been arrested for allegedly having a sexual relationship with a student that started when the girl was 13 years old , according to police and published reports. Read more: The Queens Courier

Queens Councilman Dan Halloran can’t dole out council funds, but makes it look like he can

Busted by the feds last week, City Councilman Dan Halloran is moving ahead with an effort to dole out $1 million in discretionary funds after soliciting recommendations from constituents. Read more: New York Daily News

Sources: NYS Legislature to change ethics rules following back-to-back scandals

The embarrassing corruption scandals that took down a state senator and two assemblymen may finally lead to ethics changes. Read more: CBS New York

New test of patience for Rockaway: late-night work on storm-ravaged boardwalk

Rockaway residents, already battered by a storm that left their peninsula hobbled for months, are facing another test of patience. Read more: New York Daily News

Ad nausea for Quinn: Demands enemies’ TV spot be pulled

Democratic mayoral hopeful Christine Quinn declared war yesterday on the left-wing backers of a TV ad attacking her, demanding that Time Warner Cable stop airing the spot because, she claims, it is factually wrong. Read more: New York Post

Senators to add high-tech visas, dispute details 

Senators finalizing a massive immigration bill are arguing over plans to boost visas for high-tech workers, Senate aides and industry officials say, with disputes flaring over how best to punish companies that train workers here only to ship them overseas. Read more: AP

Kevin Ware, Louisville beat Michigan to win NCAA title

Rick Pitino held court in a tunnel beneath the Georgia Dome, going on and on about the grittiest bunch of guys he’s ever coached. Read more: AP/ABC New York

 

 

 

Street Talk: What was your reaction to the mayoral bribery scandal?


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

scandal street talk

It’s a shame. It almost sounds like it’s a made for TV scandal.
Joel Yu


Unfortunately this is American politics. They forget it’s government by the people.
Jeff Meltzer


Shocked. Disappointed. Makes you wonder if anyone is honest anymore.
Patti Seiler

The city has enough problems. We can’t afford this.
Gail Kaplan 


That’s terrible. I’m trying to get money to survive right now, I’m struggling to pay rent and they’re trying to get money to rig an election.
Mindy Singer 


I think they’re crooks and robbers. They’re legitimate criminals.
Ernest White 


Nothing surprises me anymore. Not in this city, not in this political environment. Politicians are out for themselves and in the end it’s the people that suffer.
John Alexopoulos 

They should put them if jail if it’s true.
Nestor Murdocca

Constituents, community leaders react to Smith, Halloran arrest


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

File photos

Those represented by State Senator Malcolm Smith and those by Councilmember Dan Halloran are weighing in on the scandal that alleges the two tried to rig the upcoming mayoral election.

Despite the charges, Smith’s neighbors in St. Albans called the senator a morally sound leader.

“I’ve known the family for years, and they’ve always been good to me,” said a friend, who did not want to be named. “As a neighbor, he’s treated me well and that’s all I know.”

Constituent India Holloway said Smith is held to a higher standard.

“He’s a senator, he knows what’s right,” she said. “He’s supposed to be an upstanding citizen. He represents all of us. What’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong, and he should uphold that.”

Residents of northeast Queens, which Halloran represents a bulk of, have mixed reactions to the charges against the councilmember.

Malba Civic Association President Alfredo Centola said he wanted the Queens GOP to push for a Republican candidate to challenge Halloran in a primary for the upcoming District 19 election. Regardless of the charges, Centola, a registered Republican, said he didn’t think the councilmember should drop out of the race.

“I believe in the innocent until proven guilty,” Centola said. “I don’t think [Halloran dropping out] is a fair request at this point. But the GOP needs to save face.”

Smith was elected president of the State Senate in 2010, when the Democrats took the majority of the Chamber for the first time in nearly 45 years. As president, and without a Lieutenant Governor in New York at the time, Smith was in a position to take over the state, had anything happened to then-Governor David Paterson.

The Republican Minority ended up leading a coup to take over the Senate in 2009 when it recruited two freshman Democratic senators, Hiram Monserrate and Pedro Espada, Jr., to switch allegiances. Smith was able to retain power, however, by forcing the two renegades back to their side of the aisle.

In an ironic twist, Smith announced last year that he would join the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) and effectively helped put a tandem leadership in between the IDC and Republicans.

Now that Smith has been stripped of his IDC roles, a Senate colleague said it would be easier to get legislation on the floor, but, under a tougher Republican leadership, passing issues such as campaign finance reform and reproductive rights would be harder.

Reverend Floyd Flake, senior pastor of the Greater Allen A. M. E. Cathedral of New York and a former congressmember, who helped launch Smith’s political career, said he was surprised when he heard the news.
“[I was] more than shocked I think,” said Flake.

The former lawmaker added he’s placed several calls to Smith’s home since the arrest and is still waiting to hear back from the embattled senator.

Halloran, who was believed to have been a former cop, but was only a cadet, made an unsuccessful bid as a Republican for the newly-drawn Congressional District 6, but ultimately lost to now-Congressmember Grace Meng.

During his tenure, Halloran made waves in his first year by accusing the Department of Sanitation of a work slowdown during the 2010 Blizzard that crippled the city for days. An inquiry by the Department of Investigation, however, turned up no organized slowdown of work.

Halloran, reportedly facing financial difficulties because of his 2010 divorce, his mortgage and a 2005 promissory note to the woman from whom he bought his house, has been endorsed for his re-election by several fire and police unions, including the Police Captains Endowment Association (PCEA). Roy Richter, president of PCEA, said the union hasn’t decided whether or not to revoke its backing.

— With Additional Reporting by Maggie Hayes

 

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EXCLUSIVE: FBI questioned Queens pols last year over GOP probe


| mchan@queenscourier.com

File photos

Councilmember Eric Ulrich and ex-Congressmember Bob Turner were two of many Queens leaders questioned in the FBI’s probe into the county’s GOP last year, The Courier has learned.

“At some point during this investigation, I was questioned by the FBI, as were many other people,” said Ulrich, 28. “I told them what I knew on firsthand knowledge. I also told them what I thought was hearsay.”

Many in the southern Queens district, including former district leaders and candidates, were questioned in person by FBI agents last year into dealings with the party, Ulrich said.

“It’s a federal crime to lie to an FBI agent. I told them the truth or what I knew to be true. What I didn’t know at the time was that there already was an investigation into the Queens County Republican Party,” he said.

The agency launched its investigation into the party last May amid allegations Board of Elections employees may have used their positions to further their careers as political consultants, the New York Post reported.

State Senator Malcolm Smith, Councilmember Dan Halloran, Queens County GOP vice chair Vincent Tabone and Bronx County GOP chair Joseph Savino were part of a group of six officials arrested by the FBI yesterday for conspiring to rig the mayoral election, authorities said.

Smith, a registered Democrat, needed consent from three of the city’s five GOP county chairmen to appear on the Republican ballot for city’s 2013 mayoral election.

He allegedly bribed Tabone and Savino with $40,000 in cash payouts for their support, according to the Southern District U.S. Attorney and FBI.

Halloran is accused of setting up meetings between Smith and county leaders and negotiating the bribes. He allegedly pocketed nearly $21,000 in cash in exchange for his help, officials said.

“I had known for a long time that Vince Tabone was a corrupt person and that he was involved in illegal activity,” Ulrich said. “But I never thought in a million years I would wake up one morning and read about Dan Halloran being implicated in a crime like this. The Dan Halloran that I knew has been a very honest person that works very hard.”

The lawmaker, who did not disclose further details of the investigation, claims Tabone solicited money in the past in exchange for county support.

Ulrich said he cautioned Halloran — his only other Queens GOP colleague in the Council — to stay away from county leaders.

“I had warned Dan a million times. I said these are bad people, and he agreed with me. That’s why I’m so shocked,” Ulrich said. “Dan knew these people were unscrupulous, notorious bad apples.”

Party chair Phil Ragusa called on Tabone to resign, pending the outcome of legal proceedings, according to a statement released by the Queens GOP.

But Ulrich said the “compromised county” needs Ragusa to step down as well and elect Turner as their new leader.

Ragusa has not been accused of any wrongdoing, but Ulrich said that could easily change during the course of the probe.

“Who’s to say what Vince Tabone and others might tell the FBI now that they’ve been arrested,” Ulrich said. “I think they’ll tell everything they know to save their own skin.”

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Wednesday: Clear in the morning, then partly cloudy. High of 48. Breezy. Winds from the WNW at 20 to 25 mph with gusts to 30 mph. Wednesday night: Clear. Low of 30 with a windchill as low as 23. Breezy. Winds from the NW at 10 to 25 mph

EVENT OF THE DAY: Spectacle: The Music Video

Spectacle: The Music Video at the Museum of the Moving Image explores the history and art of music videos in a first-of-its-kind exhibit. With 300 videos, artifacts and interactive installations it shows the cultural influence of music videos over the past 35 years, emphasizing their role in new creative technology and how they have pushed the boundaries of creative production. On view April 3-June 16. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Manhunt under way in Kissena Park after suspects flee

The NYPD is searching Kissena Park in Queens after officers pursued robbery suspects into the park Wednesday morning. Read more: ABC New York

Arrest in Forest Park attempted rape

Four days after a female jogger was attacked in Forest Park, police arrested Richard Kassebaum, 42, in connection with the assault. Read more: The Queens Courier 

Massive fire tears through concrete plant in Queens

A massive second-alarm fire burned through a concrete plant in Queens overnight. Read more: ABC New York

Pols, constituents shocked by Sen. Malcolm Smith bribery charge

After spending years under an ethical cloud, state Sen. Malcolm Smith’s arrest Tuesday was less surprising to many of his Albany colleagues than what he was actually arrested for.  Read more: New York Daily News 

Jackson Heights leaders push for slow zone on Northern Blvd.

A rash of accidents along Northern Boulevard could be a sign that the northwestern Queens thoroughfare is becoming the new “Boulevard of Death.” Read more: New York Daily News

Obama, in Colorado, to press for gun measures

In danger of losing congressional momentum, President Barack Obama is drawing attention to Colorado’s newly passed gun control laws as he applies public pressure on Congress to pass similar federal measures. Read more: AP

Council districts to get vote on city-funded community projects


| mchan@queenscourier.com

A million dollar decision is in the hands of some Queens residents.

Three City Council districts in the borough have a week, starting April 1, to vote on community projects they want the city to fund.

Part of an initiative called “Participatory Budgeting,” residents are allowed to develop ideas and then choose five physical infrastructure projects they want to see in their neighborhood. The total $10 million budget is composed of discretionary capital public money to be split between eight districts in the city.

“Participatory Budgeting gives the community an unprecedented opportunity to make decisions on how city dollars get spent in our community,” said Councilmember Mark Weprin.

Weprin and Councilmembers Dan Halloran and Eric Ulrich have each allocated $1 million to their respective districts.

Project items to be voted on include upgrading technology at schools and libraries, installing police and security cameras in high crime areas, and upgrading community facilities like the Poppenhusen Institute and Queens County Farm Museum.

Residents in Halloran’s district have proposed adding a dog run canopy and kayak launch at Little Bay Park and a bird watching platform at Parsons Beach.

“These projects are all worthwhile, especially because they came from the people,” Halloran said.

This is the second year of the city’s participatory budgeting.

The process was derailed by Sandy in the 32nd District, according to Councilmember Eric Ulrich’s office, since some ballot items involving the boardwalk and parks have become ineligible after the storm.

A vote was still scheduled for the first week of April as of press time.

Last year, residents in Ulrich’s district voted to build a bandstand space on Shore Front Parkway, install a library vending machine in Breezy Point and upgrade technology at local schools.

For ballots and voting locations in all three Queens districts, visit pbnyc.org.

 

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Flushing Democrat Paul Graziano officially starts District 19 campaign


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Paul Graziano

A Flushing urban planner officially joined District 19’s City Council race while another candidate bowed out.

Democrat Paul Graziano kicked off his campaign on March 25 at Bowne Park to unseat Republican incumbent Councilmember Dan Halloran.

“My campaign is very simple. Protect your neighborhood. Do no harm,” said Graziano, a lifelong North Flushing resident. “It’s hard for me to think about theoretical and esoteric problems when we’ve got problems at hand in the community.”

The 41-year-old community activist was surrounded by family, friends and dozens of civic leaders Sunday when he announced his plans to preserve the neighborhood from overdevelopment, protect city parkland and ensure a better education system citywide.

Graziano also called for a “reconstituted” Board of Education with more borough subdivisions. He said the move would allow local school districts to operate independently and give communities a voice in the city’s decision-making process.

“It’s really important to make sure that we have an agenda that focuses on the needs of this community as well as, really, things that are crossing the entire city in importance,” Graziano said. “When we’re in a situation where I think every neighborhood feels embattled by the kinds of things that are happening, we have to stand up and do something about it.”

The Council hopeful faces a Democratic primary with former Assemblymember John Duane, Austin Shafran — the former vice president of public affairs for Empire State Development under Governor Andrew Cuomo — and attorney Paul Vallone, who is the son of former City Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr. and brother of Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr.

Democratic State Committeeman Matthew Silverstein dropped out of the race Sunday, citing “one of the most difficult years” of his life after his mother passed away last December.

“My mom was an amazing woman who wanted me to continue fighting for the issues I care about. However, after consulting with my friends and family, I have decided to suspend my campaign,” Silverstein said. “This campaign might be ending, but I am not going away. I will continue to advocate for the issues that are important to me.”

Silverstein had long set his sights on the seat, registering his campaign committee last May.

The Democratic primary winner will square off in November with Halloran, who was elected to the Council in 2009.

 

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Endorsements rolling in for city candidates


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

The following candidates have received backings . . .

New York City Mayor

Former Councilmember Sal Albanese was endorsed by the Transport Workers Union Local 101 in the Democratic mayoral primary, while his opponent City Council Speaker Christine Quinn landed support from the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.

New York City Comptroller

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer gained the backing of Teamsters Joint Council 16.

City Council District 19

Republican incumbent Dan Halloran bagged an endorsement from the NYPD Captains Endowment Association. Austin Shafran, one of four candidates in the race’s Democratic primary, rolled out boosts from UFCW Local 1500.

City Council District 22

Costa Constantinides got a leg up from Communications Workers of America Local 1180.

 

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City Council candidate Austin Shafran gains second union endorsement


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File photo

Austin Shafran has gained the endorsement of UFCW Local 1500 in his bid for City Council.

“This is a high-priority council race for our members, and we know that Austin is the candidate who will fight the hardest to strengthen and expand the middle class,” said Bruce Both, president of the state’s grocery workers union.

Shafran, the 32-year-old former mainstay in the Cuomo administration, is in a four-way Democratic primary race to unseat incumbent Republican Dan Halloran in the 19th District. He was the vice president of public affairs for the governor’s Empire State Development until he resigned to run for office.

“I am deeply humbled and honored to have the endorsement of a union whose members and leader have done so much for working families,” Shafran said. “Retail is one of the fastest-growing sectors of our local economy, and I plan to work closely with Local 1500 to improve the quality and quantity of retail jobs that are the backbone of a strong middle-class-first economy.”

Shafran also recently gained the support of the Teamsters Joint Council 16.

He will take on Democratic State Committee Chair Matthew Silverstein, former Assemblymember John Duane and attorney Paul Vallone — the son of former City Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr. and brother of Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr.

The district extends from College Point to the borders of Nassau County.

 

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Op-Ed: Small biz are engines that drive the economy


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

BY CITY COUNCILMEMBER DAN HALLORAN

It has never been easy to run a business in New York City, one of the most taxed and regulated places on the face of the earth. Here in Queens, where small business is the backbone of the economy, this is going to be, to put it mildly, a challenging year.

Payroll taxes have taken a bite out of paychecks and business checkbooks. The cost of Obamacare is kicking in and federal tax rates hit us harder, because it costs more to survive here, whether you’re trying to run a food cart or a factory.

Customers have less to spend and business taxes, expenses and insurance costs keep going up, along with the cost of compliance with every rule and code, no matter how high-handedly administered.

Job creators deserve tax breaks because job opportunities are critical to the future of our borough. A tax deduction for each employee would help small businesses and create more jobs. But you have to be making a profit for a tax break to be meaningful. Too many businesses are struggling to stay afloat. They aren’t hiring.

If they continue to be overtaxed and over-regulated, some businesses with good jobs will leave and others will open shop somewhere less expensive than New York City. Some will close and more will struggle to keep the doors open, leading to even fewer jobs and a more depressed economy.

But for every trickle-down tax break, the government makes a full-scale effort to legislate good jobs, frequently at the urging of people who never made a job that wasn’t paid for by taxpayers or contributors.

Legislation setting a “living wage” and mandating paid sick leave may have been motivated by compassion, but whatever benefits will come at the cost of more than just jobs. We need to take a hard look at that cost because there’s nothing compassionate about more joblessness or small businesses closing their doors for good.

Our small businesses are not ATMs for the government, but the engines that drive our economy. Ask a business owner in Queens and they’ll tell you that they want their business to grow. But you also hear business owners tell you that they aren’t being heard or helped by government as much as tormented and taxed.

We need jobs and it doesn’t make sense to cripple our small businesses with burdensome regulation, punitive enforcement and staggering fines. If a minor violation is discovered by an agency inspector, a reasonable amount of time should be given for the owner to cure the violation, especially if there is no danger to the public or the employees. These fines on small businesses are shortsighted sources of revenue for the government, money that would be better be spent creating better jobs.

What can the small business owner do, besides pay and pay? You can join local business associations like the Queens Chamber of Commerce, where you can get help from people who have been in business and add your voice to theirs in bringing your concerns to the government. You can get in touch with your elected officials and tell them how the laws and rules and taxes and fines are working out.

We’re fighting to make Queens a center of commerce and help build prosperity for ourselves and for future generations. We’re the gateway to the Capital of the World, where people come to seek a better life.

To do those things and help those people, we need jobs. We need to help business do it because the government can’t make enough jobs on its own, even in New York City where we have the federal, state and city government trying. Our small businesses are a big part of the answer and it’s time for the government to stop adding to the problem of creating good jobs.

Every business owner knows that if you overcharge and underserve, you fail.  We need government to get that same message when it comes to promoting business growth – and job creation.  So far, it hasn’t heard it.

 

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