Tag Archives: Flag

Queens lawmaker wants fire hydrants tagged with markers

| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Councilmember Mark Weprin

All New York City hydrants should be tagged with high-flying flags to be spotted more easily during snowstorms, a Queens lawmaker is proposing.

Councilmember Mark Weprin is reintroducing legislation this March that would require markers be placed at least three feet above hydrants.

The bill, first introduced in 2011, would help firefighters quickly pinpoint nearest hydrants that are buried in the snow, Weprin said.

It would also help homeowners locate and dig them out faster and keep motorists from accidentally parking too close.

“Hydrants get snow plowed in. There are some you can’t even see,” Weprin said. “It seems like just a common sense change.”

Six major snowstorms have slammed the city so far this winter, Mayor Bill de Blasio said during the last blast on Feb. 13.

In Central Park, Bridgeport and LaGuardia Airport, it is the third snowiest February on record, according to the National Weather Service.

The bill has never moved out of the Committee on Fire and Criminal Justice Services, though similar laws exist in other cities like Orangetown, N.Y. and Santa Maria, Calif., Weprin said.

“I’m hoping we can make the case a little better now,” he said.



Queens man tries to pawn off $11 million counterfeit sculpture

| aaltman@queenscourier.com


A Queens foundry owner was caught attempting to pass off a counterfeit sculpture as the real deal — for an $11 million profit.

Brian Ramnarine, 58, owner of the Empire Bronze Art Foundry in Long Island City, was arrested for attempting to sell “1989 Bronze Flag” — a sculpture that he falsely advertised as a genuine work by American artist Jasper Johns, originally titled “Flag.”

“While the defendant had possession of the mold for ‘Flag,’ he had no authority to make the bronze casting he attempted to sell as a legitimate Jasper Johns work of art,” said FBI acting assistant director in charge Mary Galligan. “He crafted a convincing sculpture, and he crafted a litany of lies and deceptions to peddle it.”

In 1960, Johns made a wax cast of the original sculpture, called “Flag.” In the 1990s, Johns gave the mold to Ramnarine — who was regarded as highly skilled in casting bronze sculptures — and asked that he create another cast of the piece. Ramnarine made the wax cast and gave it to Johns, but did not return the first “Flag” mold.

During the spring of 2010, Ramnarine allegedly told several members of the art world that he owned the authentic work and even displayed the faux “Flag” at an auction house that specialized in rare art. The crafty crook attempted to sell the sculpture to several art collectors, pricing the wax wannabe at $11 million.

When one collector expressed doubts regarding the authenticity of the sculpture, Ramnarine provided fraudulent documents to convince the skeptical buyer that the work was genuine. Ramnarine allegedly even provided a letter dated August 23, 1989, purportedly from Johns, stating that the sculpture was a gift from the artist himself. Prosecutors said Ramnarine even etched a fake Johns insignia on the work.

In May of 2010, it was discovered that Johns never authorized the production of a mock sculpture nor did he transfer ownership to Ramnarine.

Ramnarine was charged with one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison.

New citizens sworn in at Queens Center

| amanning@queenscourier.com


“I pledge allegiance to the flag…” rang out the voices of 30 children who had become citizens of the United States just moments before the patriotic ceremony held at the Queens Center Mall.

The young men and women were administered the Oath of Allegiance to the United States in the 11th Annual Citizenship Ceremony held by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). It was an exciting day for the children who represented 16 countries, ranging from Haiti to Thailand.

As children anxiously fiddled with their American flags, Dawn Simon, senior marketing manager of Queens Center, described “one of the best events” at the mall, saying that it is “driven, strong, and purposeful… and encapsulates Queens’ ethnic diversity.”

Joseph Cardinale, field office director, was the master of ceremonies. While he led the children, who ranged in age from five to 15, in proudly waving their flags, he reminded them that this is “once in a lifetime, so make the most out of it, make the best out of it.”

Wenxu Chen, 14, realizes the importance of Cardinale’s message. “This day is very important,” he said, adding that he will never forget it. Originally from China, Chen has been in this country for six years. Although he was admittedly very nervous today, he still had fun, a sentiment that would probably resound with all of the other children who took part in the ceremony.

The patriotic event included a keynote address from Borough President Helen Marshall, herself the daughter of Guyanese immigrants. She repeated a common theme, telling the children to make sure that they go forth and serve the country that is now officially theirs.

“We want to encourage you to continue in the spirit of giving back to your community through service and volunteering, and to never, ever give up your dreams,” said Simon in her welcoming remarks.

The newly minted young citizens were even shown a congratulatory message from President Barack Obama, who urged them to “keep the beacon that is America burning bright for the world to see.”

“U.S. citizenship is the best gift that the Citizenship and Immigration Services can bestow upon someone, so we value having that authority,” said Shyconia Burden-Noten, Community Relations Officer of the USCIS. “Just the look on the faces of the citizens. It’s phenomenal. It makes you proud to be an American.”