Tag Archives: donovan richards

Rapid Repairs fixes more than 20,000 Sandy-damaged homes


| editorial@queenscourier.com

File photo

BY ANTHONY O’REILLY

Five months after Sandy damaged thousands of residences in New York City, the NYC Rapid Repairs program has completed work on more than 20,000 homes,  Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced today.

The program was launched last November in the aftermath of the storm in order to provide heat, power and hot water to those homes affected.

Queens has benefited the most out of any borough, with more than 5,000 buildings repaired.

“In the four months since it launched, Rapid Repairs has restored essential services to more than 20,000 residences, allowing nearly 54,000 New Yorkers return to their homes where real recovery can begin,” said Bloomberg speaking at the American Legion Post in Broad Channel , which served as a FEMA Disaster Recovery Center following Sandy. “It’s a new model for disaster recovery that we proved can work.”

All scheduled repairs are expected to be finished by next week.

“The milestone that Rapid Repairs reached today in servicing over 20,000 families is significant towards showing that our community is making major progress following the devastation of Hurricane Sandy,” said Councilmember Donovan Richards said.

Bloomberg also announced the city’s plans for $1.77 billion in federal aid to assist residents and businesses affected by the storm.

The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City is also putting aside $10 million in private donations to assist one and two-family homes in need of repairs.

 

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Donovan Richards declares victory in Council District 31 special election


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

File photo

The race is won – Donovan Richards has declared victory, and is the new councilmember for the 31st  District.

After a windy campaign road, ending with Richards and opponent Pesach Osina, the former chief-of-staff to State Senator James Sanders emerged victorious by 80 votes.

On voting day, Tuesday, February 19, both Richards and Osina declared victory. At the time, Richards was ahead by 26 votes, and over 500 ballots had yet to be counted. Counting continued on Wednesday, February 27, and many feared that results would not be known for weeks.

However, in an unofficial tally, Richards came out on top with 2,646 votes to Osina’s 2,567 – a wide enough margin to eliminate a recount, according to Politicker.

Richards took to Twitter to announce his victory and thank his supporters.

“This victory could not have been achieved without the hardwork of my campaign staff # Love You Guys,” he said.

He also congratulated Osina on a well-run campaign, and said he looks forward to working with him for the “betterment of [the] community.”

 

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Two candidates declare victory in special election


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of YouTube/Facebook

Two councilmembers, one district. Following the City Council special election late Tuesday, February 19, candidates Donovan Richards and Pesach Osina both declared victory of the 31st District.

“While we are still uncertain of the total numbers, when every vote is counted, we will be victorious,” said Osina, an aide to Assemblymember Phil Goldfeder, at his campaign headquarters.

Similarly, Richards took to Twitter and Facebook, declaring, “Happy to announce I am the councilman!”

As of midnight on election night with 97 percent reporting, a mere 26 votes separated Richards, former Councilmember James Sanders’ protégé, and Osina, according to unofficial Board of Elections (BOE) reports.

The race to fill Sanders’ vacant seat was heated, and crowded. Attorney Jacques Leandre came short of Osina and Richards, followed by community activist Michael Duncan, Selvena Brooks, Community Board 8 District Manager Marie Adam-Ovide, Saywalah Kesselly and Allan Jennings.

Counting to determine a winner will reportedly rev back up Wednesday, February 20. There is a potentially missing memory stick from a ballot scanner, and absentee and paper ballots still need to be counted. A recount could also be in the cards, according to Politicker.

Despite the chaotic end, candidates still see a bright future for southeast Queens.

Brooks, who conceded before counting ceased, said she believes that the district will emerge stronger and better because of what the candidates had done throughout the campaign and because of the important community issues they highlighted and elevated.

There was still no winner as of press time.

 

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Special election candidates patrolling poll sites


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

The race continues, and candidates for the 31st District’s City Council seat are making the rounds, reaching out to the people they hope to make their constituents.

“I’m feeling great,” said Selvena Brooks, who has a political past working in the State Senate. “We have a real presence on the ground throughout southeast Queens and a lot of community support.”

Brooks and fellow candidates Pesach Osina, Donovan Richards, Jacques Leandre, Michael Duncan, Allan Jennings, Saywalah Kesselly and Marie Adam-Ovide have spent election day continuing their campaigns, and do not plan to rest until polls close at 9 p.m. tonight.

“I’m going to be out there until 8:59 p.m., just trying to get one more person to the polls” said Marie Adam-Ovide, district manager of Community Board 8. “I’m trying to encourage more people to come out.

 

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City Council replacement to be decided in special election today


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Pesach Osina

Decision day has arrived, and one of eight candidates for southeast Queens’ 31st District will sit upon the City Council.

The council hopefuls hit the ground running just over a month ago when James Sanders vacated his seat and moved to the Senate. The campaign stretch, although short, has been heated.

Michael Duncan, Marie Adam-Ovide, Saywalah Kesselly, Jacques Leandre, Selvena Brooks, Donovan Richards, Allan Jennings and Pesach Osina were put up against each other in several public forums, testing their knowledge of the district neighborhoods and their ideas for the future.

The Daily News reported that in a nonpartisan special election such as this one, political observers note that merely a few hundred votes could determine a winner.

Donovan Richards, Sanders’ former chief-of-staff, received the veteran pol’s support, as well as 18 union endorsements and support from 60 community leaders, according to his Facebook page. Additionally, his campaign war chest came in first, and raised nearly $130,000.

Residents in communities such as Springfield Gardens and Laurelton are concerned with area flooding, and hope their new councilmember can make progress in eliminating the issue. Many people also want to see improvement in the school system and a decrease in home foreclosures.

Photo courtesy of Selvena Brooks 

 

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City Council candidate Jacques Leandre revokes election lawsuit


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

File photo

Attorney Jacques Leandre, one of nine candidates in a special election for former Councilmember James Sanders’ 31st district seat, has withdrawn a lawsuit questioning the validity of qualifying petitions of some of his rivals after the Board of Elections (BOE) authenticated the signatures.

“Leandre should have never filed his lawsuit in the first place,” said Selvena Brooks, one of the candidates under fire. “[It] was a cynical, anti-democratic exercise, and a waste of the court’s time.”

Before withdrawing his claims, Leandre said that it was all a part of the electoral process, a system that his opponents were “not adequately versed in.”

“This is really nothing out of the ordinary,” he said. “Candidates and objectors have the right to question petition signatures, and the BOE verifies those signatures.” After Leandre and his team received the determination by the board that the other candidates met their requirements, he decided that withdrawing was the best thing to do.

“Although we disagree with the determination, we respect the board’s decision,” he said.

Earnest Flowers, another candidate Leandre targeted, said that the allegations were “most certainly false,” and that it was just a tactic to try and get candidates to spend campaign funds on lawyers instead of the race. Leandre countered this by saying this process ensures the integrity of the race.

Others accused included Allan Jennings, Marie Adams-Ovide, Michael Duncan and Donovan Richards. Richards, Sanders’ former chief-of-staff, is reportedly the favorite and recently received the endorsement of mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio.

The candidates will now square off in several debates until the special election on Tuesday, February 19.

 

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Candidates vie for Sanders’ City Council seat in special election


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Candidates 15th district

A vacant seat has been left in the 31st Council District by James Sanders’ ascent to the State Senate, and more than one candidate hopes to slide into the spot.

A special election is set to be held on February 19 for the coveted Council seat, covering parts of Springfield Gardens, Laurelton and Rosedale. The race has attracted several different candidates thus far, many of whom have hit the campaign trail running.

Sanders’ former chief-of-staff, Donovan Richards, is considered the front runner, according to multiple media reports. Richards has received endorsements from not only his former boss, but also from the City Council’s Progressive Caucus and the Working Families Party. He worked in the City Council for ten years under Sanders (pictured right), and is now looking to acquire his own seat.

In order to be eligible to run, all candidates must file with the Board of Elections (BOE) by January 15.

Valerie Vazquez, a BOE spokesperson, said that as of press time, Allan Jennings, a former City Councilmember, and Selvena Brooks, who has worked in the State Senate, have filed to run.

Brooks filed her candidacy under the party name “Rebuild Now,” referencing not only rebuilding post-Sandy, but also rebuilding the education system, local economy and neighborhoods.

Marie Adam-Ovide, the district manager of Community Board 8, has been expected to announce her candidacy, as is Earnest Flowers, former chief-of-staff of Assemblymember William Scarborough. Flowers boasts a reputation of making his promises a reality, and having “quantifiable work.”

“The reason why we don’t get a lot of things done is because no one puts anything down on paper, so no one can be held accountable,” said Flowers. “Everything I do is transparent.”

Flowers recently held a fundraising event for his campaign in his home, where he spoke to a crowd of roughly 60 about his passion for the community.

Many others are rumored to join the race, and will face each other on Thursday, February 7 at the 31st District Candidates’ Night. Members of the community will join the candidates in Laurelton at St. Luke’s

Cathedral where they will be given the opportunity to ask the Council hopefuls questions regarding their positions.

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‘Lincoln’ tops Oscar list with 12 nominations


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

The nominations for the 85th annual Oscars were announced this morning in Beverly Hills.

Leading the list was “Lincoln” with 12 nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director for Steven Spielberg,  Best Actor for Daniel Day-Lewis, Supporting Actor for Tommy Lee Jones and Best Supporting Actress for Sally Field

Other best picture nominees are “Amour,” ”Argo,” ”Beasts of the Southern Wild,” ”Django Unchained,” ”Les Miserables,” ”Life of Pi, “‘Silver Linings Playbook” and ”Zero Dark Thirty.”

Two nominations also made history. The list of honorees includes both the youngest and oldest Best Actress contenders to ever be nominated. Emmanuelle Riva, 85, was nominated for her role in “Amour” and nine-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis for the film “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”

Here’s the full list of nominations:


Best picture 

  • “Amour”
  • “Argo”
  • “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
  • “Django Unchained”
  • “Les Misérables”
  • “Life of Pi”
  • “Lincoln”
  • “Silver Linings Playbook”
  • “Zero Dark Thirty”

Actor

  • Bradley Cooper in “Silver Linings Playbook”
  • Daniel Day-Lewis in “Lincoln”
  • Hugh Jackman in “Les Misérables”
  • Joaquin Phoenix in “The Master”
  • Denzel Washington in “Flight”

Actress

  • Jessica Chastain in “Zero Dark Thirty”
  • Jennifer Lawrence in “Silver Linings Playbook”
  • Emmanuelle Riva in “Amour”
  • Quvenzhané Wallis in “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
  • Naomi Watts in “The Impossible”

Actor

  • Alan Arkin in “Argo”
  • Robert De Niro in “Silver Linings Playbook”
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman in “The Master”
  • Tommy Lee Jones in “Lincoln”
  • Christoph Waltz in “Django Unchained”

Supporting actress

  • Amy Adams in “The Master”
  • Sally Field in “Lincoln”
  • Anne Hathaway in “Les Misérables”
  • Helen Hunt in “The Sessions”
  • Jacki Weaver in “Silver Linings Playbook”

Director

  • “Amour,” Michael Haneke
  • “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” Benh Zeitlin
  • “Life of Pi,” Ang Lee
  • “Lincoln,” Steven Spielberg
  • “Silver Linings Playbook,” David O. Russell

Foreign language film 

  • “Amour,” Austria
  • “Kon-Tiki,” Norway
  • “No,” Chile
  • “A Royal Affair,” Denmark
  • “War Witch,” Canada

Animated feature film 

  • “Brave,” Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman
  • “Frankenweenie,” Tim Burton
  • “ParaNorman,” Sam Fell and Chris Butler
  • “The Pirates! Band of Misfits,” Peter Lord
  • “Wreck-It Ralph,” Rich Moore

Adapted screenplay

  • “Argo,” Chris Terrio
  • “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin
  • “Life of Pi,” David Magee
  • “Lincoln,” Tony Kushner
  • “Silver Linings Playbook,” David O. Russell

Original screenplay

  • “Amour,” Michael Haneke
  • “Django Unchained,” Quentin Tarantino
  • “Flight,” John Gatins
  • “Moonrise Kingdom,” Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola
  • “Zero Dark Thirty,” Mark Boal

Best documentary feature

  • “5 Broken Cameras”
  • “The Gatekeepers”
  • “How to Survive a Plague”
  • “The Invisible War”
  • “Searching for Sugar Man”

Best documentary short 

  • “Inocente,” Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine
  • “Kings Point,” Sari Gilman and Jedd Wider
  • “Mondays at Racine,” Cynthia Wade and Robin Honan
  • “Open Heart,” Kief Davidson and Cori Shepherd Stern
  • “Redemption,” Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill

Cinematography

  • “Anna Karenina,” Seamus McGarvey
  • “Django Unchained,” Robert Richardson
  • “Life of Pi,” Claudio Miranda
  • “Lincoln,” Janusz Kaminski
  • “Skyfall,” Roger Deakins

Costume design

  • “Anna Karenina,” Jacqueline Durran
  • “Les Misérables,” Paco Delgado
  • “Lincoln,” Joanna Johnston
  • “Mirror Mirror,” Eiko Ishioka
  • “Snow White and the Huntsman,” Colleen Atwood

Film editing

  • “Argo,” William Goldenberg
  • “Life of Pi,” Tim Squyres
  • “Lincoln,” Michael Kahn
  • “Silver Linings Playbook,” Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers
  • “Zero Dark Thirty,” Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg

Makeup and hairstyling

  • “Hitchcock,” Howard Berger, Peter Montagna and Martin Samuel
  • “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” Peter Swords King, Rick Findlater and Tami Lane
  • “Les Misérables,” Westcott and Julie Dartnell

 Original score

  • “Anna Karenina,” Dario Marianelli
  • “Argo,” Alexandre Desplat
  • “Life of Pi,” Mychael Danna
  • “Lincoln,” John Williams
  • “Skyfall,” Thomas Newman

Original song

  • “Before My Time” from “Chasing Ice,” Music and Lyric by J. Ralph
  • “Everybody Needs A Best Friend” from “Ted,” Music by Walter Murphy; Lyric by Seth MacFarlane
  • “Pi’s Lullaby” from “Life of Pi,” Music by Mychael Danna; Lyric by Bombay Jayashri
  • “Skyfall” from “Skyfall,” Music and Lyric by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth
  • “Suddenly” from “Les Misérables,” Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg; Lyric by Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil

Production design

  • “Anna Karenina” (Production Design: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer)
  • “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” (Production Design: Dan Hennah; Set Decoration: Ra Vincent and Simon Bright)
  • “Les Misérables” (Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Anna Lynch-Robinson)
  • “Life of Pi” (Production Design: David Gropman; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock)
  • “Lincoln” (Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Jim Erickson)

Animated short film

  • “Adam and Dog” (Minkyu Lee)
  • “Fresh Guacamole” (PES)
  • “Head over Heels” (Timothy Reckart and Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly)
  • “Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare”” (David Silverman)
  • “Paperman” (John Kahrs)

Live action short film

  • “Asad” (Bryan Buckley and Mino Jarjoura)
  • “Buzkashi Boys” (Sam French and Ariel Nasr)
  • “Curfew” (Shawn Christensen)
  • “Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw)” (Tom Van Avermaet and Ellen De Waele)
  • “Henry” (Yan England)

Sound editing

  • “Argo” (Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn)
  • “Django Unchained” (Wylie Stateman)
  • “Life of Pi” (Eugene Gearty and Philip Stockton)
  • “Skyfall” (Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers)
  • “Zero Dark Thirty” (Paul N.J. Ottosson)

Sound mixing

  • “Argo” (John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Jose Antonio Garcia)
  • “Les Misérables” (Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes)
  • “Life of Pi” (Ron Bartlett, D.M. Hemphill and Drew Kunin)
  • “Lincoln” (Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Ronald Judkins)
  • “Skyfall” (Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell and Stuart Wilson)

Visual effects

  • “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” (Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and R. Christopher White)
  • “Life of Pi” (Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott)
  • “Marvel’s The Avengers” (Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams and Dan Sudick)
  • “Prometheus” (Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley and Martin Hill)
  • “Snow White and the Huntsman” (Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Philip Brennan, Neil Corbould and Michael Dawson)

A night in a Hurricane Sandy evacuation center


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Donovan Richards, chief of staff for Councilmember James Sanders, spent the night of Monday, October 29 in an evacuation center in Jamaica with constituents during the storm. Here is his account of the night.

I was once told that real leadership requires one to lead from the front. With this in mind and an unprecedented hurricane bearing down on my district, I arrived at John Adams High School at 7:15 p.m. to check-in for the night with my constituents. Although John Adams H.S. was listed as an evacuation site, it instantly became clear that there were no plans to have anyone spend the night — there were no sleeping cots or food available for evacuees, no sign whatsoever that anyone intended to stay. I then noticed a mother and her 2-month-old baby sitting uncomfortably on a wooden chair, clearly hoping that her belongings and all she worked for would be there when she returned home after the storm. I became angered after witnessing a man with three special needs children nearly turned away and told to travel through the storm to another shelter. I learned at that moment that John Adams High School was not a shelter, but an intake site.

I was told that residents checking in at John Adams were to be re-routed to York College. Thus, I foolishly grabbed my duffel bag, which contained a single bottle of water and some pretzels, got back into my car and drove to York to ensure this wasn’t happening anywhere else. With the 8 p.m. deadline looming for Sandy to arrive, I assume I broke a few traffic laws on Rockaway Boulevard to avoid feeling her wrath. After parking my car at York College, I then battled what felt like 50 mph wind gust to open my car door, grabbed my unzipped bag and headed into the shelter entrance. I was greeted kindly by security, who checked my bag. I then took off my jacket and grabbed a volunteer vest from the evening volunteer coordinator and started greeting nearly 100 Far Rockaway residents.

Sheltered inside were the very few residents who decided to heed advice from Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Michael Bloomberg and evacuate Zone A. Many of them repeatedly said, “I decided to play it safe.” However, they expressed their concerns about their neighbors who decided to stay. In my travels around the shelter, one woman came to me crying saying her sister and four children called her screaming that she couldn’t get out and the water was taking over her first floor rapidly. I called 9-1-1, but the circuit was overloaded, so I decided to take a chance at calling my contact in the 101st Precinct Community Affairs Unit, although I knew he was in over his head. I was relieved when he answered the precinct phone after two rings and explained the situation, only to find out that they lost communication with the Emergency Service Units out in boats rescuing people. I pray the young lady and her four children made it out safely. Then I was approached by another young lady and her family who told me her neighbor was stranded on her roof. These stories kept me from sleeping the entire night, wondering what news we would wake up to in the morning. Young and old alike spent much of the night glued to NY1, learning the latest updates about the storm.

I was asked questions like: “Mr. Richards, do you think my house got flooded?” After receiving a call from Councilmember James Sanders Jr. that the water had overtaken the basement and first floor of his Far Rockaway home, I knew the answer was almost certainly “yes,” that their homes were flooded. The beach had met the bay, a scenario that could result in not only in mass destruction of property, but possibly death as well.

I knew many of us would have to return home having to start all over, with so many memories and belongings gone. The mental, emotional, and physical drain finally overtook 99 percent of the evacuees. It was so quiet in the vicinity that you would have thought you were in your home alone. At 2 a.m. I decided to grab my blanket and sleep on the couch after working for nearly 20 hours straight, to only be awakened by another volunteer offering me a cot. I decided to take him up on his offer. The cot was as hard as steel, but at least I could stretch out. I slept for just an hour and grabbed my phone to get as many updates on Facebook from my friends as possible. Over 20 volunteers unpacked additional cots from boxes and moved them around York College as three busloads of residents arrived at the shelter.

Thank God we all survived the night safely. I want to thank the first responders and volunteers who braved the weather to keep all of us safe. As harrowing as Sandy was, the results could have been far worse. In the coming days, we must all stand together to ensure that our neighbors get back on their feet and we rebuild like never before. While Sandy may have won the first round, the resolve of the people of the district will win the fight. We have always stood together and we always will!