Tag Archives: Education

Community comes out for August Martin


| brennison@queenscourier.com

The Courier / Photos

In the past year, August Martin High School has been entered into the city’s restart program, lost a principal and twice been placed on the list of schools to close, which had many community leaders asking why their high school was being targeted.

“This is not about the progress of August Martin; this is political,” said Rona Freiser, a Queens United Federation of Teachers (UFT) representative and teacher at the school for 28 years, at a rally. “[Mayor Michael Bloomberg] is vengeful.”
August Martin is one of 26 high schools on the list for Turnaround. The Department of Education (DOE) held a public hearing at the school on Monday, April 16 to allow for community input on the proposed closure.

“The DOE does not listen. This [hearing] is just to make it legal,” said State Senator Shirley Huntley. “It is part of the process, the process to destroy our children.”
If the Jamaica school is turned around, it would close and reopen under a new name. The students at the school would be guaranteed a spot and half the teachers would possibly be replaced.

“Schools always need to be made better, but you need resources,” said Huntley. “When you close a school and reopen it, you spend more money than if you just give the schools the resources and let it function.”

The high school was entered into the restart program in September, which qualified it for School Improvement Grants (SIG), but because the UFT and DOE failed to come to an agreement on teacher evaluations, the money dried up and put August Martin in line for Turnaround.
The restart model is meant for schools to receive support to improve and not be closed.

Had the two sides reached an agreement, the school would have continued its course in the restart program, a DOE spokesperson said.
“There is no educational justification for closing down this school. And it’s not just that the school has a graduation rate better than the average in the city,” said Leo Casey, the UFT vice president for high schools.

The school’s graduation rate has improved from 49 percent in 2009 to 67 percent last year; the city-wide average was 65 percent. The school received a “D” on its most recent progress report.

“It takes a community to raise a child and one bad mayor to destroy that same child,” said Councilmember Ruben Wills.

Anthony Cromer, August Martin’s former principal, resigned on Thursday, April 5, though many involved in the school say he was forced out.
“[Cromer] should have had the chance to leave the school with dignity, instead he was led out,” said Assemblymember Vivian Cook, who said she was told by Cromer that he did not want to step down.

Gillian Smith was installed as the school’s principal and DOE Deputy Chancellor March Steinberg said she would be the proposed leader of the new school.
“How do you expect the school to grow when you do that to a principal and expect the kids to care anymore?” asked Cleavon Evans, president of the August Martin Alumni Association.

Many students broke down at the sight of their principal being led away, said the school’s parent-teacher-student association president, Jose Ferruzola.
“It was traumatic to see their principal taken out like a criminal.”

The final vote on the school’s future is scheduled for April 26.

 

Top Headlines From Around the Web


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Queens woman killed in overnight fire

A Queens blaze killed a woman this morning, and seriously injured her cousin, authorities said. Firefighters discovered the unconscious body of Joanne Brown, 63, as they extinguished the flames in her Auburndale home on 189th Street, near 45th Avenue. EMS pronounced her dead at the scene. The fire began about 4:40 a.m., and was under control less than an hour later, according to an FDNY spokesperson. Read More: New York Post

Prober uses Facebook to nail perv, goldbrick NY teachers

Facebook is giving more Big Apple teachers a black eye. As the city Department of Education prepares to release it’s first-ever social-media policy, Schools Investigator Richard Condon has tallied a rapid growth in complaints about improper Facebook usage by city school employees — 120 in the past 18 months. Some teachers got in trouble for posting dumb jokes tinged with sex or violence. Others were busted after their own or students’ Facebook comments tipped officials to wrongdoing. Read More: New York Post

Sleepy driver kills 2: cops

A Long Island man on prescription drugs fell asleep behind the wheel and drove his 2011 Honda Ridgeline into a tree early yesterday, killing his 19-year-old girlfriend and a 17-year-old passenger, cops said. Thomas Smith, 20, of Ridge, and Jacqueline Salvador had just moved in together last week and were returning from Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, NJ. Also in the car were her brother, Johnny Salvador, 17, Ryan Baumgartner, 17, and an unidentified girl, 16. Read More: New York Post

Queens Child’s Fundraiser Raises Awareness Of Rare GI Disorders

A Queens fourth grader with a rare gastrointestinal problem held a Saturday fundraiser in Woodside to raise money and awareness. KeVaughn Plunkett, who is allergic to almost all foods and has to use a food pump to survive, held his fourth Annual Art Show event at Saint Mary’s Church in Woodside. Proceeds went to the American Partnership For Eosinophilic Disorders (APFED). For more information, visit apfed.org. Read More: NY1

 

 

Schumer Demands Harsher Penalties For Pharmacy Robberies

In the wake of several robberies of pharmacies in the area, Senator Charles Schumer is urging Congress to pass a bill calling for tougher penalties. The Safe Doses Act, which is already waiting for a Senate vote, would increase punishments for robbing drug stores and give police more tools to crack down on illegal prescription drug rings. Just last week, two man held up an East Harlem pharmacy looking for pain medication. Read More: NY1

 

 

 

New York Marks Centennial Of Titanic Sinking

Exactly 100 years since an iceberg sank the RMS Titanic, New York City is holding events today to mark the centennial of the famed shipwreck that killed more than 1,500 people. The Titanic sank early in the morning of April 15, 1912, after hitting an iceberg late the previous night. A tour in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx is letting visitors pay respects at the gravesites of several Titanic passengers. Also, the Noble Maritime Collection at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center on Staten Island is opening a Titanic-related art exhibit. Read More: NY1

This Morning’s Headlines


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Queens Students Spend Whole Vacation With High-Stakes State Test Preps

School’s out this week, but it’s business as usual at P.S. 15 in Springfield Gardens, Queens. Almost all third through fifth grade students have been showing up each morning for class, and the subject is test prep. “I thought it would be important for them to stay on the regular schedule. Especially getting up in the morning, it’s very essential, and still doing the schoolwork, which would maintain the momentum,” said P.S. 15 Principal Antonio K’Tori. Read More: NY1

 

 

Cops warned of ‘Drano bomb’ threat

Cops in the Rockaways have been targeted for an attack with “Drano bombs,” the Daily News has learned. The NYPD issued a citywide alert Tuesday warning officers about “Drano bombs,” also known as “bottle bombs,” that “are exploded by readily mixing available household products in plastic containers.” Police sources said that while the alert went to every precinct, the greatest concern is in the Rockaways. Read More: Daily News

Kuroda faces tough test, worrisome trend in move from NL to AL

Orlando Hernandez, Jon Lieber and Shawn Chacon. You now know the only three starters acquired during general manager Brian Cashman’s tenure who have enjoyed Yankee success without having spent considerable time in the American League beforehand. It is not much of a list and El Duque is the only member who sustained a positive run with the Yankees. Hiroki Kuroda, the Yankees’ starter in today’s home opener, is trying to expand that small group. Read More: New York Post

Rangers Win Playoff Opener 4-1 Over Ottawa At MSG

Henrik Lundqvist made 30 saves and Brian Boyle got the eventual game-winning goal as the New York Rangers defeated the Ottawa Senators in their playoff opener Thursday night. The 4-2 win sent a happy crowd home from Madison Square Garden. Rangers captain Ryan Callahan opened the scoring for the Blueshirts midway through the first period, only to see the Senators take back the momentum in the second. But Rangers coach John Tortorella called a pivotal timeout, and his team responded with goals by Marian Gaborik, Boyle, and Brad Richards. Read More: NY1

 

 

‘Jamaica Bay Lives!’ documentary highlights problems affecting Queens estuary

Old saris, uncooked rice and flags featuring Hindu deities floating in Jamaica Bay would appear, to many people, as nothing more than litter. But for Indo-Caribbean immigrants, leaving the items on the Rockaway shore was once considered the only way to complete the sacred offering known as a Puja. Enter Kamini Doobay, a 23-year-old clinical researcher, trying to reconcile her religious beliefs with her concern for the environment. In 2009, Doobay began raising awareness of the problem and successfully convinced some of her fellow worshippers to reuse any non-biodegradable items, rather than leave them in the bay. Read More: Daily News

Queens co-ops $crewed: Liu

Queens co-op and condo owners who complained last year of wildly inflated property assessments were right on the mark, city Comptroller John Liu reported yesterday. Liu said his auditors determined that the market value of co-ops citywide went up 12 percent in the tentative 2011-12 property tax rolls — while Queens co-ops were hit with an average 32 percent hike. Liu also said a review of all 859 co-op complexes in Queens turned up 92 that were mistakenly “over-valued” by as much as 25 percent. Read More: New York Post

2-year-old girl forgotten aboard private schoolbus in Queens

A 2-year-old girl was forgotten aboard a private schoolbus after her driver parked the vehicle on a Queens street and went home, police said. The child was rescued after a passing Con-Ed worker spotted her inside the bus on Christie Avenue and 99th Street in Corona and called cops. The driver, Ana Garcia, 62, was arrested at her nearby 99th Street home and charged with failure to exercise control of a minor. Read More: New York Post

Grades spur parents’ revolt


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Grades spur parents’ revolt

Armed for the first time with data that rates the effectiveness of more than 12,000 math and reading teachers, parents yesterday said they’ll now take action to steer their kids clear of bad apples. At PS 89 in The Bronx — which had the highest number of teachers who were rated poorly in 2010 — several parents returning to school yesterday after last week’s mid-winter recess said they plan to pull their kids out. Forty-three percent of the Bronxdale school’s teachers were rated below average or worse, while just 7 percent were above average or better, according to the city’s numbers. Read More: New York Post

Thieves out ‘4’ iPhones

It wasn’t just techie nerds who were eagerly awaiting the iPhone 4’s release — sneaky cellphone subway thieves were just as anxious to snag the gadget, NYPD officials said yesterday. The June 2010 release of the iPhone sparked an underground cellphone-swiping frenzy that still hasn’t stopped, said NYPD Transit Bureau Chief Joseph Fox. Cellphone “thefts accelerated in July 2010 coinciding with the release of the pretty popular iPhone 4,” he said at the MTA’s transit committee meeting. In 2011, 47 percent of all property stolen underground involved electronics — up from 39 percent in 2010 and 35 percent in 2009. Read More: New York Post

Two confirmed dead, three injured in Ohio school shooting

An Ohio teen described as an “outcast” was due to appear in court Tuesday after allegedly killing two of his classmates and injuring three others in a fatal shooting at a suburban Cleveland high school. The first victim of the shooting at Chardon High School was Daniel Parmertor, 16, who died Monday at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland. A second victim, named as 17-year-old Russell King, was pronounced brain dead at 12:42 a.m. at the same hospital, the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office said Tuesday. Read More: New York Post

Family Fights To Prevent Deportation Of Jackson Heights Father

Mohammad Anwarul Islam’s family in Jackson Heights, Queens is fighting to keep the husband and father in the country, while he awaits deportation to Bangladesh in a New Jersey jail. His family says Islam immigrated legally but was not granted political asylum. Read More: NY1

Detective who killed thug in shootout says it was ‘just instinct’


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Detective who killed thug in shootout says it was ‘just instinct’

The NYPD detective who shot and killed a thug in a Harlem subway station yesterday, despite being shot in the arm, said today that he simply reacted. “It was just instinct more than anything,” Queens Detective Kevin Herlihy told The Post. Herlihy said “it’s very fortunate, [I'm] very lucky” to have survived the shootout. Read More: New York Post

Subway-push victim relives horror at trial

First, the stranger on the platform met her eyes with “a crazy stare.” Then, as the uptown train barreled into the Broadway and 28th Street station, fashion exec Ute Linhart felt two hands push her hard from behind — a New York City nightmare come to life — so forcefully, she flew off her feet. “I felt the hard push from behind,” Linhart told a Manhattan Supreme Court jury yesterday, testifying against José Rojas, 26, who is fighting attempted-murder charges by insisting he’d merely had too much to drink that day and bumped the woman by accident. Read More: New York Post

Queens teacher allegedly sent students’ info to felon boyfriend in holiday pen-pal assignment

A bone-headed Queens elementary school teacher had her students write holiday cards with their names and addresses on them to her beau — a locked-up felon, investigators charged. The Office of Special Commissioner of Investigation Richard Condon today recommended that PS 143 fifth-grade teacher Melissa Dean get canned for acting as though the “pen” in pen-pals stood for penitentiary. Read More: New York Post

 

Gelman gets addt’l 25 years for slashing Manhattan subway rider at end of crime spree

A man already sentenced to 200 years in prison for killing four people in a stabbing and carjacking rampage in New York City has received an additional 25 years. Maksim Gelman was sentenced Wednesday for slashing a Manhattan subway passenger at the end of the bloody crime spree. In court, Gelman interrupted and taunted the victim. Joseph Lozito told Gelman he has “hell to look forward to.” Read More: New York Post

 

Hit-and-run driver slams into taxi, injures 2: cops

A reckless hit-and-run driver slammed into a taxi early this morning, seriously injuring the cabbie and a passenger inside, police said. The accident occurred while BMW driver Gilberto Morales, 20, was allegedly speeding up Third Avenue in the East Village with his buddy Brandon Evans, 21, in the passenger seat, cops said. Morales blew through a red light near East 13th Street and plowed into the taxi at 3:36 a.m., cops said. The cowardly motorist stopped the BMW, and after seeing the damage, fled the scene on foot with Evans, cops said. Read More: New York Post

Ex-Marine rips NY’s ‘illogical’ gun law

Getting prosecuted under New York’s gun laws is a nonsensical crapshoot, where gangsters get their cases expunged and thugs can turn in illegal weapons for $200 — but a weapon that’s legally registered elsewhere can brand a citizen as a criminal for life. That’s the view of a retired Marine who is facing criminal charges after unwittingly trying to check his Indiana-registered handgun at the Empire State building, according to the latest court filings in the case. Read More: New York Post

 

Hit-run kills Brooklyn man

An elderly man was killed last night in a horrific hit-and-run accident in Brooklyn, police said. Jean Jeanniot, 71, was crossing the intersection of Flatbush Avenue and East 26th Street in Flatbush when a car hit him at about 6:10 p.m., authorities said. Another car then hit and dragged Jeanniot, but that driver stayed on the scene, cops said. “Someone hit him one way, then another guy drove over him and he was dragged out,” said Robert Sapp, of nearby Lindell’s Beauty and Barber Supplies. “It’s a horrible intersection, it’s very dangerous.” Jeanniot was rushed to Kings County Hospital, where he died. Read More: New York Post

Speaker Quinn delivers State of the City


| smosco@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn

Focusing on ways to improve education and strengthen communities, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn delivered her 2012 State of the City address at City Hall on Thursday, February 9.

In her 6th annual address, Quinn outlined proposals ranging from securing homes for families to providing quality education for children to providing job opportunities for the unemployed to bolstering the five boroughs’ economic potential.

“Now more than ever, we need to tap into the power of our communities,” she said. “We need to restore the promise that everyone can succeed in New York, no matter how humble their origins, with a bit of help and a lot of hard work.”

Quinn said it would take a lot of hard work to help the city’s education system – but to achieve real success in schools, Quinn believes the key is to start young. To that end, Quinn proposed making kindergarten mandatory for all city 5 year olds. Currently, kindergarten is not required and Quinn said that many kids are missing out on critical early education.

“Every year nearly 3,000 5-year-olds in New York City don’t enroll in kindergarten,” she said. “That means thousands of kids enter first grade every year having never set foot in a classroom. Many of them are kids who need kindergarten the most. We’re working with the State Legislature to introduce a bill allowing New York City to make kindergarten mandatory.”

Quinn also touched on the college careers of city school children, calling for the creation of a tuition-free CUNY Honors College for the city’s top students. The proposed college will have a campus, facilities and programs allowing it to compete with the nation’s top institutions.

Beyond education, Quinn spoke about the need to secure healthcare for New Yorkers, announcing an initiative to improve worker health and reduce health care costs. Quinn said the City Council will provide $100,000 in funding to launch the Freelancers Union’s flagship Brooklyn health clinic.

“This kind of creative health care model has the power to connect more New Yorkers to primary care, take some of the burden off of struggling hospitals, and strengthen our non-profit healthcare system,” she said. “That’s how we make good on the promise of New York – by ensuring that every generation has greater opportunity than the ones that came before.”

Woman murdered in Queens


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Woman murdered in Queens

A 33-year-old woman was found murdered last night in a Queens apartment building, police said. The victim, whose identity was withheld, was slashed across the throat and found at 8:30 p.m. by her in-laws in a second-floor apartment at 26-80 30th St. in Astoria. It was unclear how long she had been dead. The medical examiner’s office will perform an autopsy. Detectives are looking to speak with the woman’s husband, cops said. Read More: New York Post

 

East Side ‘rape’ bust

A maintenance worker has been busted for allegedly raping a woman after breaking into her Manhattan apartment while she slept. Alberto Delgado, 37, of Queens, was arrested Tuesday on rape charges for allegedly assaulting the 24-year-old woman in her apartment on East 30th Street near Third Avenue, police sources said. The attack occurred in the early-morning hours on Dec. 16 after the victim attended a party at another apartment in the building, the sources said. Read More: New York Post

CUNY Law shielding bad grads from bar

Anxious CUNY Law School administrators are urging struggling students not to take this summer’s bar exam in an apparent bid to boost the school’s sagging pass rates, irate students charged. The administrators even offered a handful of students a grant in the fall that’s normally reserved for those taking the July exam if they would agree to postpone sitting for the test until February 2013. Students say an associate dean has pulled at least six classmates in for a one-on-one sales pitch advocating for the delay — even though the February exam is reputedly more difficult. Read More: New York Post

Where to watch the Super Bowl in Queens

It won’t be just Giants and Patriots fans hitting the bars to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday, February 5 — more than 110 million people watched last year’s game.  Bars and restaurants throughout Queens feature food and drink specials for Giants fans and anyone else that wants to take in the Super Bowl 42 rematch.  Here are a few places to watch the games in Queens… Read More: Queens Courier

 

Mike $laps Komen

Mayor Bloomberg rode to the rescue of Planned Parenthood yesterday, pledging up to $250,000 for the organization after the Susan G. Komen for the Cure breast-cancer foundation yanked funding for screenings. “Politics have no place in health care,” Bloomberg said in a statement. “Breast-cancer screening saves lives and hundreds of thousands of women rely on Planned Parenthood for access to care,” he said. “We should be helping women access that care, not placing barriers in their way,” he added. But Bloomberg refused to say whether he would cut his own ties with Komen. Read More: New York Post

 

Service disruptions on 7-line could put damper on Flushing Lunar New Year parade 

Queens’ massive Year of the Dragon celebration may be hindered by MTA subway disruptions, several elected officials and business owners fear. Saturday’s Flushing Lunar New Year Parade — one of the city’s largest celebrations — coincides with the ongoing 7-train rehabilitation that cuts service between Times Square and Queensboro Plaza. The lack of a direct link from Manhattan to Flushing could stifle the flow of attendees, which usually tops more than 100,000 people, said parade organizer Peter Tu. Read More: Daily News

 

Louis Armstrong House Museum in Corona gears up for Black History Month

Louis Armstrong was already an international jazz icon when he stepped out of a taxi in front of a Corona house in 1942 that his fourth wife, Lucille, had just picked out. After growing up in poverty in New Orleans, owning even a modest home in a middle-class Queens neighborhood was almost inconceivable. “He couldn’t believe he owned this house,” said Al Pomerantz, a volunteer at Satchmo’s Corona home that is now the Louis Armstrong House Museum. “It wasn’t until Lucille actually answered the door that he let [the cabbie\] drive away.” Read More: Daily News

Daytime Burglaries Rattle Queens Community

Some Indian New Yorkers think their Queens community is being targeted by thieves. “I turned the lock, and I was like, ‘wait a second, I locked the door when we left that morning,’” said Lea Balgobin, a burglary victim. She did, but someone had broken into her home after she left with her husband Rohan to run errands. The burglar only took cash and gold. “Every piece of jewelry we had, they took,” said Rohan Balgobin. Those items were worth over $50,000 according to the police report . The Balgobins say it’s common for Indians from Asia and the West Indies to keep large amounts of jewelry in their homes because people often give gold as gifts and the jewelry is passed for generations. Read More: NY1

In support of teachers


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

With all of the problems that teachers in today’s classrooms have to deal with, they certainly do not need to be constantly lambasted by the media.

Most, if not all, teachers are very hardworking, dedicated, and very professional in their everyday dealings with students, parents and administrators. Teachers work very hard to help each and every student realize his full potential, and given that the academic strength of each student is different, that is no easy task.

Overcrowded classrooms, students who are unruly, a lack of necessary teaching materials, and lack of support from administrators, as well as from some parents, make teaching a very stressful and physically taxing profession.

All teachers everywhere in this country need to be treated with the utmost courtesy, respect and professionalism. Teachers are working to help mold their students to be the future of America — treat these hardworking, dedicated professionals with the respect that they deserve, and pay them a fair, livable salary.

 John Amato

Fresh Meadows

Cuomo speaks at Queens College, wants to refocus on education


| smosco@queenscourier.com

IMG_1067w

With the hallowed halls of academia as his setting, Governor Andrew Cuomo called for a reimagining of the state’s education system as he unveiled his 2012-13 Executive Budget and Reform Plan at Queens College on Thursday, January 19.

“The future of our state depends on our public schools. A strong, effective school system is the hallmark of a healthy democracy,” he said. “We must make our schools accountable for the results they achieve and the dollars they spend.”

The governor has shown frustration over the failure of many school districts and the teacher’s union to come up with a new system of teacher evaluations in time for a deadline in federal grant money. In late December, the state’s education commissioner froze some of the state’s $700 million in Race to the Top grants, citing the state’s inability to comply with teacher evaluation requirements.

Cuomo said that any district unable to come up with an evaluation plan will not receive grant money.

“We cannot fail in our mission to reform public education, because we simply cannot fail our children,” he said, adding that he plans to increase school aid by $805 million, including $250 million linked to improved academic performance and management efficiency. “I will appoint a bipartisan education commission to work with the Legislature to recommend reforms in these key areas.”

Another area touched upon by the governor was the state’s current $2 billion budget deficit. Cuomo said his plan closes that deficit with no new taxes or new fees. It also proposes sweeping mandate relief and pension reform that will save taxpayers and local governments billions of dollars, while at the same time launching historic education reform to put students ahead of the education bureaucracy.

Additionally, Cuomo said his budget plan lays the groundwork for a $25 billion economic development agenda, funded largely by leveraging billions in private sector investment rather than by taxpayer dollars.

Two potential sources of revenue named by Cuomo during his speech were casino gaming and a proposed convention center that would be built by the developers of Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct in South Ozone Park.

Elected officials from across Queens attended the event, including Borough President Helen Marshall, who introduced the governor to his hometown crowd. Senator Toby Ann Stavisky said that Queens College was the perfect setting for this event, given that education is the key to the borough’s future.

“I believe that job development is key to the state’s future, and higher education is the vehicle,” she said. “We are proud of Queens’ colleges, and it is appropriate that today Queens College is the epicenter.”

See our photo gallery of the elected officials and leaders who were at Queens College to hear Governor Andrew Cuomo speak. 

 

Queens hotel fire rescue


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Queens hotel fire rescue

Firefighters fought their way through heavy smoke and shooting flames yesterday to rescue a man with no pulse from a burning Queens motel and bring him back to life. The victim was in a third-floor room at the Conduit Motor Inn in South Ozone Park at around 4 p.m. when members of Engine 302 and Ladder 155 arrived on scene. Firefighter John Summerville crawled into the room to stay beneath the smoke. “I found him face down by the window. The situation was like an inferno,” Summerville said. After reaching the victim, described as being in his 40s, Summerville pulled him out and put him in an ambulance, where another member of Engine 302 began performing CPR and got a pulse back. Read More: New York Post

Cuomo Turns His Budget Focus To Public Pensions, Education System

Governor Andrew Cuomo is getting ready to reveal his budget proposal for the new fiscal year on Tuesday. Although the governor would not share many details of the expected $130 billion plan in advance, he touted on Monday a brighter picture looking forward. “The good work that we did last year is actually going to pay dividends this year,” said Cuomo. “So, from just a budget point of view, where we had a true crisis last year, we had a $10 billion deficit, we had chaos. We have a much better budget situation on the numbers.” “We got a good start last year, moving in a better and a new direction. Took about a 90-degree turn,” said Republican Assemblyman Jim Tedisco of Schenectady. Read More: NY1

Astoria Houses kids now have ‘Promise’

More than 1,600 underprivileged children have been “granted” the opportunity to pursue their dreams. Local elected officials and community leaders gathered on January 13 to announce that a $500,000 Promise Neighborhood planning grant from the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) had been procured for the children of the Astoria Houses. Read More: Queens Courier

Druggists’ cure for anxiety: a pistol

Your friendly neighborhood pharmacist will soon be locked and loaded. Rattled druggists from Long Island to the city are increasingly applying for gun permits following a spate of fatal robberies by armed thugs desperate to score highly addictive painkillers. “I’m applying for a pistol permit because of this,’’ said Todd Svec, 48, a pharmacist and owner of the Arlo Drug store in Massapequa Park, LI. “I will feel safer if I have one.’’  Svec’s wife is also a pharmacist at the store — and his four daughters work there. He pointed out that Charlie’s Family Pharmacy in Seaford, LI, where on New Year’s Eve a pill-popping ex-con attempted a stickup that left the thug and an off-duty federal agent dead “is just two miles from here.”  Read More: New York Post

Baby born on PATH train between NJ & NYC

Next stop, maternity ward! A woman went into labor on a New York-bound PATH train yesterday, and her baby took the express track — he was born before the train even pulled in to its Manhattan terminal. When Rabita Sarkar and her husband, Aditya Saurabh, left their Harrison, NJ, home they were still planning their unborn child’s exciting future. But by the time their train rumbled into Manhattan’s 33rd Street station, they were a new family, complete with a baby boy and a train car full of honorary uncles and aunts. “He came in a very dramatic fashion,” the smiling new mom told The Post from her bed at Roosevelt Hospital. Read More: New York Post

One more time, vengeance shall be Giants’

The Giants wanted another shot at the 49ers, wanted the stakes higher than they were in November. Now they have it, and it doesn’t bother them in the least that the game is in San Francisco, because they would play this one, the one that is the Golden Gateway to Glory, on the moon. Jim Harbaugh has restored the pride to a storied franchise, and 60 minutes from the Super Bowl means the Giants will be expecting a hostile environment Sunday night — and possibly a rainy one as well — at Candlestick Park. “I can care less about how hostile it is, it’s a game,” Antrel Rolle said. “When you’re home, you want to bring ’em to their feet. When you’re away, you want to bring ’em to their knees, and that’s the way I look at it.” Read More: New York Post

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales announces blackout to protest anti-piracy bills in Congress

Wikipedia will black out the English language version of its website Wednesday to protest anti-piracy legislation under consideration in Congress, the foundation behind the popular community-based online encyclopedia said in a statement Monday night. The website will go dark for 24 hours in an unprecedented move that brings added muscle to a growing base of critics of the legislation. Wikipedia is considered one of the Internet’s most popular websites, with millions of visitors daily. “If passed, this legislation will harm the free and open Internet and bring about new tools for censorship of international websites inside the United States,” the Wikimedia foundation said. Read More: Daily News

Army: Eight Charged In Death Of Manhattan Soldier


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Army: Eight Charged In Death Of Manhattan Soldier

The U.S. Army says eight of its soldiers are facing charges in connection with the death of a fellow soldier in Afghanistan. Private Danny Chen, 19, died in October. The exact cause of death has not been released. The Army has said he died of non-combat-related injuries. Five of the eight soldiers are charged with involuntary manslaughter and negligent homicide. Other charges include assault, battery, and reckless endangerment. Read More: NY1

Police: Brooklyn Teen Stabbed In Head Over Basketball Spat

A Brooklyn teenager is fighting for his life after police say another teen stabbed him in the head with a pair of scissors Police say the two teens got into an argument during a pick-up basketball game at Erasmus Hall High School in Flatbush. They say Alfredo Allen, 15, was stabbed multiple times in the head by the other boy, identified in published reports as Chevoy Nelson, 16. Allen was taken to the hospital in critical condition. Read More: NY1

Students’ posters aim to erase graffiti

Senator Tony Avella is aiming to erase any thoughts of vandalism from the minds of the students in his district – and paint them a clear anti-graffiti picture. The senator joined representatives from the Bayside Business Association (BBA) and students from across northeast Queens on December 15 for his first annual Anti-Graffiti Poster Contest. Read More: Queens Courier

NYPD Investigates Noose Found At City Parks Office

The New York City Police Department’s Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating after a doll was found hanging by a noose Tuesday in the Parks Department’s Bronx borough headquarters. According to Geoffrey Croft, president of the watchdog group NYC Parks Advocates, an African-American parks worker found the doll near his work space. Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe says the department is fully cooperating with the investigation. Read More: NY1

Woman Snaps Picture Of Bronx Subway Flasher

Police are searching for a man they say exposed himself on a Bronx subway last week. Investigators say this man exposed himself to a 30-year-old woman on a northbound 6 train at the Buhre Avenue station Thursday night. The woman was able to snap a photo of the suspect. He’s described as being in his 30′s, about 5’6″ tall and weighing 175 pounds. Read More: NY1

IT geek’s apartment gizmo catches burglar in act

A computer whiz yesterday busted a brazen burglar at his Manhattan pad — all while sitting at his work desk six blocks away. Levent Cetiner, 30, an IT ace at the School of Visual Arts in Gramercy, had set up a motion-detection camera in his West 21st Street apartment that sends him real-time photos of his home by e-mail when triggered. Read More: New York Post

Library president pleads guilty to drunk driving


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

[Watch] Queens rape suspect caught on camera

A serial southeast Queens rapist was caught on camera as he attempted his third sexual assault in two months. The video, released today by police, shows the suspect approaching the victim from behind and grabbing her around the neck.  The suspect placed a sharp object to the victim’s back before dragging her behind a house where he attempted to rape her, police say. The incident took place Wednesday, December 7 at 2 a.m. near 154th Street. Read More & Watch the Video: Queens Courier

DOE Releases Second Batch Of School Closures

The Department of Education announced this afternoon the second half of its list of planned school closures. Today’s list includes two elementary, two middle, and three high schools. In addition to the closures, six others will see their middle school grades phased out. They include P.S. 161 The Crown in Brooklyn, Academy For Scholarship And Entrepreneurship in the Bronx, Brooklyn Collegiate: A College Board School in Brooklyn, P.S. 298 Dr. Betty Shabazz in Brooklyn, Frederick Douglass Academy IV in Brooklyn and Wadleigh Secondary School For The Performing Arts in Manhattan. Read More: NY1

Library president pleads guilty to drunk driving

The president of the New York Public Library pleaded guilty this morning to driving drunk in his library-issued Audi. Judge Jennifer Schecter didn’t exactly throw the book at Marx – under the terms of his plea deal with prosecutors, the first time offender will pay a $500 fine and have his license revoked for six months. He’ll also have to submit to 16 counseling sessions and complete a drunk driving program, and have an ignition interlock device installed in any car he chooses to drive after he gets his license back. Read More: New York Post

Missing ex-FBI agent in hostage video: ‘Help me’

The family of retired FBI agent Robert Levinson, who vanished years ago in Iran, issued a plea to his kidnappers Friday and, for the first time, released a hostage video they received from his unidentified captors. The video message released on the Levinson family’s website publicly transformed the mysterious disappearance into an international hostage standoff. Despite a lengthy investigation, however, the US government has no evidence of who is holding the 63-year-old father of seven. Read More & Watch the Video: New York Post

Divided Queens Republicans court Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich

The borough’s fractured Republican Party is now divided over who should be the next presidential candidate. City Councilman Eric Ulrich was recently tapped to chair Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s campaign in New York City. Just a few days later, the Queens Republican Party sent out a press release and photo touting a meeting between county chairman Phil Ragusa and Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich. Read More: Daily News

Deadly St. Albans ‘DWI’ crash


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

4 Accused in Theft of Aid Meant for Nonprofit

In 2006, a Queens state senator, Shirley L. Huntley, set up a nonprofit group called Parent Workshop that was intended to help parents navigate the inner workings of New York City’s school system. Then she began funneling state aid to the group, whose executives had close ties to her. But the money never helped a single family in the school system, prosecutors said Wednesday. They said four people with ties to Parent Workshop were involved in the theft of nearly $30,000 in state aid that Ms. Huntley had secured. Read More: New York Times

 

[UPDATE] Cops hunt Long Island City rape suspects

Police are looking for three suspects in connection with the ambush and rape of a woman in Long Island City. According to police, the 20-year-old victim — who is from the neighborhood — was walking along Vernon Boulevard and 10th Street in L.I.C. at approximately 3:45 a.m. on Sunday, December 4 when she was grabbed by two of the suspects and dragged to a nearby parking lot. There, she was held down between parked cars and raped by a third man. Read More: Queens Courier

 

What Would Judy Say?

Judge Judy Sheindlin answers your questions about problems that trouble you most. Read More: Queens Courier

 

Kids meet former Mets’ hurler John Franco

Thirteen-year-old Joseph Santana stood in line wearing an oversized striped Mets jersey, clutching a cobalt blue baseball cap. He bobbed excitedly as the line grew shorter, anticipating his turn. When he reached the front of the line, he thrust the cap at former Mets relief pitcher John Franco, who scribbled his signature in black Sharpie marker across the brim. Read More: Queens Courier

 

Riders on the Q111 bus uneasy about their safety after fatal shooting 

Rattled riders on the Queens bus line where a gunman shot two passengers last week said they are scared that violence may erupt again. After Demel Burton, 34, went on a shooting spree on the Q111 on Friday, straphangers said it underscored the fact that bus drivers can’t protect them. Read More: Daily News

Alec Baldwin apologizes to American Airlines passengers for plane outburst, but not to flight attendant

 

Actor Alec Baldwin apologized Wednesday to fellow passengers for the cell phone inspired tirade that got him bounced from an American Airlines flight. But the Hollywood hothead remains enraged with airline staff. “I learned a valuable lesson,” he said in a Huffington Post article. “I’ve learned to keep my phone off when the 1950s gym teacher is on duty.” Baldwin claimed that the incident was triggered after “one employee singled me out to put my phone away” while the delayed flight was waiting at the gate. Read More: Daily News

Deadly St. Albans ‘DWI’ crash

An allegedly boozed-up driver was arrested after he slammed into two cars in Queens yesterday, killing a 21-year-old man, cops said. Curtis Dean, 25, was cruising south in an Infiniti on 201st Street in St. Albans when he smashed into a Ford sedan just after 5 a.m., sending the Ford into a resident’s yard, cops said.Three victims were taken to Jamaica Hospital, including a passenger in the Ford who died there. Dean also allegedly plowed into a parked SUV. He was hit with a slew of charges, including manslaughter and DWI. Read More: New York Post

 

Remembering John Lennon: On the Anniversary of His Death, 5 Iconic Moments (Video) via the Hollywood Reporter

Department of Transportation To Investigate Dangerous Queens Intersection

It’s almost like a game of chicken. Drivers speed through the stop sign on Vleigh Place in an attempt to beat cars with the right of way on 72nd Avenue. And while most make it through the intersection without a problem, neighborhood residents say they have witnessed a lot of accidents. “There have been about four accidents in the past maybe month and a half. People fly past the stop sign like it doesn’t exist,” said one resident. Read More: NY1

Long Island City Residents Urged To Stay Alert After Parking Lot Attack

Police say a woman in Queens was attacked by three men and raped earlier this week, and now residents and local leaders are urging others to stay alert. Watch the Video: NY1

Atomic Bomb Survivors Visit Flushing International High School

Survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings visited the Flushing International High School to speak with students Wednesday. Watch the Video: NY1

Lame defense: Graffiti suspect: I’m crippled

An ex-cop standing trial on charges that he had revived his youthful graffiti-vandal compulsion was walking with a limp and appeared to be incapable of the dexterity required for the avocation, the arresting officer testified yesterday. Steven Weinberg admits that he once was the infamous “Neo” who, during the height of the city’s 1980s graffiti scourge, “bombed” trains and trestles with his bubble-lettered signature. But his lawyer, Patrick Broderick, said Weinberg, with an injured leg, couldn’t possibly make the climb required recently to spray-paint his tag on an overpass. Read More: New York Post

 

Woman dragged into Hunters Point parking lot and raped by group of men


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Woman dragged into Hunters Point parking lot and raped by group of men

Cops are hunting for a group of men they say raped a woman on a dark Queens street early Sunday. The 20-year-old woman was walking near Vernon Boulevard and 10th Street in Hunters Point when two men grabbed her and dragged her into a parking lot at about 3:45 a.m., police said. As the two suspects held her down between two cars, a third man — who is in his late 20s and about 5-foot-10 with blond hair and blue eyes — raped her, cops said.  Read More: Daily News

Queens rape victim was falsely imprisoned for robberies; now she sues city cops for falling for her attacker’s story

A QUEENS rape victim who was locked up for robberies she didn’t commit is suing city and Long Island cops for falling for her attacker’s “preposterous hoax” of a revenge plot. In a federal lawsuit, Seemona Sumasar claims NYPD cops protected her attacker, Jerry Ramrattan, because he was secretly funneling them information about other crimes while working as an informant. Read More: Daily News

Parents and officials say Department of Education has turned back on Jamaica High School

Even though the Department of Education’s (DOE) decision to close Jamaica High School was finalized in February, current students are still hoping for a quality education. Currently in the process of being phased out, Jamaica High School no longer accepts new students and is expected to close its doors for good in 2014. Read More: Queens Courier

At Top Public Schools, the Arts Replace Recess

All of this concentrated learning — activities parents commonly think of as enrichment — was taking place not after school hours, but during recess, the once-unstructured midday break that for some elementary school students is slowly being squeezed out of the day. Jump rope, freeze tag and the jungle gym have some new competition. At some of the city’s highest-rated public elementary schools, recess is now being seen by parents and educators as a time to pack in extra learning. Read More: New York Times

Giants, Mets Trade: New York Trades Angel Pagan To San Francisco For Andres Torres, Ramon Ramirez

Walking across the hotel lobby, New York Mets manager Terry Collins smiled. “We rebuilt our bullpen in one day,” he said. In a rapid-fire series of moves at the winter meetings that took 1 1/2 days to put together and 1 1/2 hours to finalize, the Mets agreed to trade center fielder Angel Pagan to San Francisco for outfielder Andres Torres and pitcher Ramon Ramirez, and reached agreements with free-agent relievers Frank Francisco and Jon Rauch. Read More: Huffington Post

Ex-corrections officer acquitted of attempted murder charges in Queens

A former correction officer who was facing up to 25 years in prison for shooting two men outside of a Queens bowling alley was acquitted of double attempted murder and assault charges. “His defense was one of self-defense,” said Michael Lavecchio’s trial attorney, Stephen Worth, after a jury cleared his client of all charges on Monday night. Lavecchio, 55, was working as a security guard at the AMF bowling alley on 34th Avenue in Jackson Heights on February 6, 2010 when he asked Justin Donaghy and Gerard Hourigan to leave the building.  Read More: New York Post

MTA forgot about stranded blizzard train

The MTA’s subway boss admitted yesterday that transit officials got so overwhelmed during last year’s Christmas-time blizzard they “forgot” about an A train stuck on the tracks for nine agonizing hours with 500 passengers on board. Read More: New York Post

Twenty Charged With Alleged Trafficking Of Eastern European Women


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Twenty Charged With Alleged Trafficking Of Eastern European Women

Immigration and law enforcement officials have arrested and charged 20 people, including five Queens residents and three Brooklyn residents, in connection with a human trafficking operation that allegedly brought women from Russia and Eastern Europe and forced them to dance in various strip clubs in the city. Read More: NY1

 

Buyer Assistance Program marries first-time homeowners and foreclosed houses
A new city program is offering sweetheart deals to persuade wannabe homeowners to move into parts of Queens ravaged by foreclosure. Homebuyers can earn up to $80,000 in forgiveable loans through the initiative aimed at areas like South Jamaica, Woodhaven and the Rockaways. The program, run with federal funds, hopes to fulfill home-buying dreams and prevent abandoned houses from being vandalized and becoming havens for squatters. Read More: Daily News

 

Food carts may get letter grades

One Queens politician is aiming to make choosing the right food cart as easy as “A, B, C.” Senator Jose Peralta, who represents Jackson Heights, Corona, East Elmhurst, Elmhurst and Woodside, recently introduced a bill that would require local health departments across the state to evaluate and assign a letter grade to mobile food carts. The legislation, which is expected to be introduced in the coming weeks, would invoke a similar rating system to the one performed on restaurants. Read More: Queens Courier

 

Man pleads guilty to Brooklyn charges in 28-hour rampage

The man charged with a Brooklyn-to-Manhattan murder spree that started with the slaying of his mother’s boyfriend and ended with a brutal stabbing aboard a subway train pleaded guilty today to four murder counts and other charges. Maksim Gelman, 24, had originally pleaded not guilty to the four counts and a raft of other charges in the 13-count indictment. Gelman’s lawyer Edward Friedman said his client wished to plead guilty in Brooklyn this time. Read More: New York Post

 

Police suspect murder victims found on Long Island’s Gilgo Beach were murdered by single serial killer


Days before the first anniversary of the discovery of bodies on Gilgo Beach, police said Tuesday that they believe one serial killer is responsible. Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer said there was enough evidence to link the dumping of the remains of 10 people to one killer. Read More: Daily News

 

Young teen pepper-sprays classmates at Harlem high school

A 14-year-old Harlem student blasted her classmates with pepper spray Tuesday, sending eight students to the hospital with minor injuries. Education officials are investigating the incident, which occurred in an Academy for Social Action classroom around 2:30 p.m. Eight students who inhaled the noxious chemicals were rushed from the W. 129th St. school to St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital. Read More: Daily News

 

Deaf woman abducted in Brookyln ‘for sex’

A deaf woman who stormed out on her boyfriend after a fight was snatched off a Williamsburg street by two thugs who tried to pimp her out — and beat her when she refused, police sources said yesterday. The 28-year-old upstate woman told cops she was walking back to her grandmother’s apartment at about 2 a.m. Monday when a man yanked her into his car and told her to “work” for him. Read More: New York Post