Tag Archives: George McDonald

The Doe Fund to help clean up Myrtle, Grand avenues


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley's Office

CHRIS BUMBACA

In an effort to beautify Queens and support job growth within District 30, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley and The Doe Fund announced on Thursday discretionary budget funding of The Doe Fund’s Ready, Willing & Able program.

The Fund’s president and founder, George McDonald as well as other local community leaders, were also on hand for the announcement. The Doe Fund’s workers, men who were formerly incarcerated or homelessness, will take part in this year-long transitional program, and service streets and sidewalks along Myrtle and Grand avenues in communities such as Glendale, Ridgewood and Maspeth, improving cleanliness and safety throughout the community.

Crowley acquired $61,800 in funding in the current budget to fund these street-cleaning crews.

“I’m so thrilled to welcome The Doe Fund to District 30. Myrtle and Grand Avenues have been major sources of sanitation complaints for years, but thanks to The Doe Fund, residents and business owners along these commercial corridors will begin to see a big difference almost immediately,” Crowley, who also serves as Chair of the Committee on Fire and Criminal Justice, said. “This program is win-win: keeping our community clean, while simultaneously providing jobs, education, and career development services for hardworking New Yorkers trying to turn their lives around and make a positive impact.”

The crews will pick up litter and clean trash on Myrtle Avenue from Cooper Avenue to Fresh Pond Road and on Grand Avenue from 61st to 74th streets, three days a week for the next year. Clean-up on Myrtle Avenue began on July 15, and crews began cleaning Grand Avenue on July 15.

“We’re grateful and proud to join Councilmember Crowley in her commitment to her district and the vibrant communities in it,” McDonald said. “By choosing The Doe Fund’s ‘men in blue’ to service Myrtle Avenue and the surrounding area, Ms. Crowley is leading by example, providing our men the opportunity and work they need to transform their lives, while improving the cleanliness and safety of the district’s streets.”

“This is only the beginning, and I look forward to expanding this program over the next several years,” Crowley added.

 

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Candidates answer questions at Courier mayoral forum


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Mike DiBartolomeo

The Democratic, Republican and independent mayoral candidates all came together on one stage for the first time since the race to succeed Mayor Michael Bloomberg began.

The Courier hosted its Mayoral Forum on Friday, June 7 at Terrace on the Park with Democrats Sal Albanese, Bill de Blasio, John Liu, Christine Quinn, Bill Thompson and Anthony Weiner joined Republicans John Catsimatidis, George McDonald, Joe Lhota and independent Adolfo Carrion. Moderator and NY1 anchor Rocco Vertuccio asked questions pertaining to both borough and city issues.

Vertuccio kicked off the event with a question about handling labor contracts for city workers.

“The municipal work force is demoralized,” Albanese said. “Many haven’t gotten a raise in five years.”

The former councilmember said he would do his best to provide retroactive pay for the workforce without raising taxes.

Carrion suggested establishing a cost-sharing relationship with the city’s workforce, while Lhota said workers do not pay their fair share when it comes to healthcare costs.

“We don’t want to go backwards,” McDonald said, adding he would not sign a labor contract that did not include a cost of participation for healthcare by municipal employees.

He also said there are “too many city employees” and that the city should utilize available technology to fulfill the tasks of some jobs.

Weiner agreed the city needs to take control of spending, especially healthcare costs, and utilize local pharmacies and labs to keep “our healthcare money here in Queens.” He was the only candidate to stand while speaking.

The Major League Soccer (MLS) development in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park was a source of disagreement, with some candidates taking a pro-development stance and others aiming to preserve as much parkland as possible.

De Blasio, the city’s public advocate, said he lived near the park and has a “personal sense” of how much Flushing Meadows means to people.

“Sports don’t necessarily help out the larger economy,” he said.

However, he said that finding a way to create a stadium that gives an opportunity to keep the same amount of parkland would be a “worthy discussion.”

“I’m all for having a stadium somewhere in the city, but we can’t burden Flushing Meadows,” Lhota said.

He added we should not be taking parkland and using it for other initiatives. Lhota suggested allocating the funds to renovate the New York State Pavilion instead.

City Comptroller Liu, a Queens native, said he wants to make sure there is no alienation of parkland and that it should not be sold to public interests.

Before leaving for another engagement, City Council Speaker Quinn said it is “critically important to have the utmost respect for the community and voice of the local elected officials.”

She added that is why she has been working with Councilmember Julissa Ferreras on the area’s proposed tennis center.

Former Congressmember Weiner said he is pro-development and would love to have MLS in the borough, but first, he joked, he’d “love to have major league baseball here in Queens.”

“I’m a Mets fan. I can say it,” he said with a laugh.

One citywide issue concerned government’s alleged use of violation fines as a source of revenue. The Bloomberg administration has come under criticism by some who fines placed upon small businesses are unfair. Vertuccio asked the candidates what they would do.

Catsimatidis, once a small business owner himself, proposed a “business advocate group” within the city. When business owners are fined and believe it is unwarranted, they would not need to hire a lawyer. In Catsimatidis’ proposal, the advocacy group would fight on the owner’s behalf.

“New York City is at war with its small businesses,” Thompson said.

McDonald said his city sweeping company cleans the streets outside of merchants’ sites and “saves [them] millions of dollars a year in fines.”

When it came to city cultural institutions and the yearly “budget dance” that such organizations experience, all the candidates agreed there needs to be more control over the mayoral budget, saying the confusion should end.

Thompson said the city should put more money into cultural institutions and place art and music education back in the public school system.

PHOTOS FROM THE MAYORAL FORUM

Some candidates briefly showed their claws during the forum’s closing remarks. Albanese made reference to Weiner’s controversial fall from office.

“Weiner is interesting,” Albanese said. “He’s very political and articulate. But I believe it’s important if you want to be the mayor of New York City to have credibility. He’s betrayed the public trust on several occasions. I think that disqualifies him from running for mayor.”

The remark was met with sounds of disapproval from the panel, with McDonald tapping loudly on his microphone.

Moving on, de Blasio described his proposal to tax the “wealthiest New Yorkers so we can have full day pre-kindergarten programs for our kids.”

Catsimatidis called himself “the balance,” saying he has not taken any campaign donations from political contributors.

Carrion said he is running as an independent to “ensure this city of promise gives this opportunity to our generation and future generations.”

Candidates will continue to blaze down the campaign trail until the primary election in September, followed by the mayoral election in November.

 

 

Six months after Sandy, Charles Park gets clean-up


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File phoot

Frank M. Charles Memorial Park is getting spruced up.

With Sandy debris lingering nearly six months after the storm, Councilmember Eric Ulrich has partnered with the Doe Fund to help clean up the community park, which is run under the auspices of by Gateway National Recreation Area.

Nine “men in blue” from the Doe Fund, which finds work for homeless men and women, will help remove debris in what is considered a neighborhood park, although it’s under the National Park Service (NPS) umbrella.

Ulrich said he reached out to George McDonald, president and founder of the Doe Fund, after coverage of the park’s worsened condition following the storm.

“This was a reaction to the published newspaper reports about the terrible conditions in Charles Park,” Ulrich said.

The councilmember said further pressure had to be put on NPS to secure that Charles Park and other parts of Gateway get the same attention that parks across the country do.

“It’s an absolute disgrace,” Ulrich said of the delayed clean up, adding it should not have taken a storm like Sandy to bring the park’s conditions to the public eye. “The federal government has to live up to their obligation.”

McDonald, who partnered with Ulrich to bring workers to Broad Channel after the storm, said the program won’t only clean up the park, but give the crew a second chance.

“For the past 25 years, New Yorkers have been so generous to The Doe Fund and to the ‘men in blue’—helping their fellow New Yorkers to re-establish their careers and become fathers to their children,” McDonald said. “We are grateful for the opportunity to give back. I thank Councilmember Ulrich for thinking of us.”

Community Board 10 recently voiced opposition to a proposal from Gateway and NYC Parks Department that listed Charles Park as a possible site for concession stands, bike terminals or kayak launching bays. Board members first want the park to be cleaned up, and get more outreach from Gateway, before anything else comes in.

“It’s my understanding that Doe fund is volunteering labor to do it, which is certainly commendable,” said board chair Elizabeth Braton. “However, it does not remove the obligation of the Parks Service to provide continuous, ongoing maintenance at the facilities they are responsible for.”

 

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Republican candidate Tom Allon drops out of NYC mayor’s race


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

Sunday the Democratic mayoral field widened, but today the list of Republican candidates is shorter.

Newspaper publisher Tom Allon announced Monday that he is dropping out of the 2013 race for mayor of New York City.

In a statement, the CEO of Manhattan Media said he was withdrawing his bid after acquiring City and State Media, which exclusively covers New York government and politics.

“While no longer a candidate, I will continue to passionately and relentlessly pursue a reform agenda as an education activist, a columnist and blogger, and parent of three teenagers,” said Allon.

In the primary the ex-Democrat was set to face former head of the MTA Joe Lhota, supermarket billionaire John Catsimatidis and Doe Fund founder George McDonald.

“I entered this race in 2011 to offer the voters of New York City a choice that was different from the career politicians who at the time seemed likely to be the only Mayoral candidates in the campaign-to-come, but the equation has changed in the months since,” Allon also said in his statement. “I have been gratified to hear Joe Lhota, John Catsimatidis, Bill Thompson, Christine Quinn and others voice some of my education and economic development ideas and I hope the next mayor will see them to fruition.”

 

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Doe Fund cleans up Broad Channel


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

Broad Channel is seeing blue.

Nine workers from the Doe Fund, dubbed “the men in blue,” will help clean up a two-mile stretch of Cross Bay Boulevard in Broad Channel, as the island still continues to recover nearly four months after Sandy hit.

The cleanup effort, which officially began on Friday, February 15, will run from the foot of the Joseph P. Addabbo Memorial Bridge to the American Legion Post 1404.

The Doe Fund gives homeless men and women a second chance by providing jobs and starting a new life. Staten Island, Coney Island and the Rockaways have been other areas the Doe Fund has cleaned up in wake of the storm. The men will pick up the roadside trash and haul it on to Department of Sanitation trucks.

“The garbage and the litter and the debris are still here,” said Councilmember Eric Ulrich. “People are going to be so impressed. They’re [the workers] going to do a top-notch job.”

Ulrich said he reached out to Doe Fund chair George McDonald two weeks ago to help clean up Broad Channel’s main thoroughfare, which is still littered with debris. Flanked by Doe Fund members and representatives from the National Park Service and the Department of Sanitation, Ulrich said the “Men in Blue” would be on Cross Bay Boulevard, picking up trash until the job is done. The goal, he added, is to have Cross Bay back to its pre-storm look, if not better.

Cross Bay Boulevard is the first view of the Rockaways visitors get and the road needed to keep that vista positive, Ulrich said.

The relationship between the Doe Fund and south Queens goes back to long before the storm, according to Community Board 14 chair Dolores Orr. The organization helps clean up Beach 116th street, an economic hub in Rockaway, every spring, Orr said.

“It’s equally important for the residents trying to recover themselves,” Orr said.

McDonald, who’s also running as a Republican for mayor, said the men and women of the organization were hard workers and dedicated to getting their life back on track.

“It’s on behalf of all the citizens of New York that we come here and help clean up,” McDonald said. “We are thrilled to be able to give back. I know this partnership is going to do great things for this community and I thank Councilmember Ulrich for thinking of us.”

 

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Quinn increases mayoral lead in new poll


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Official NYC City Council photo by William Alatriste

BY ANTHONY O’REILLY

Christine Quinn’s chances of becoming the next mayor of New York City seem more likely, a new survey finds.

A NY1-Marist poll found that City Council Speaker, who has not formally announced her candidacy, is heavily favored by 37 percent of registered Democrats in the city, up from 23 percent in October,

Quinn gave her last State of the City address as speaker on Tuesday, February 12 where she focused on the middle class.

Former City Comptroller Bill Thompson is far behind in second with 13 percent and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio is currently in third with 12 percent.

On the Republican side, former MTA chairman Joe Lhota holds an advantage with 20 percent of registered Republicans favoring his run for mayor. George McDonald, founder of the Doe Fund, a charity that supports the homeless, is currently in second with eight percent of the vote, followed by billionaire John Catsimatidis with five percent.

 

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Grocery mogul Catsimatidis announces run for mayor


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Facebook/.johncatsimatidis2013.com

It’s getting crowded.

The Republican race for the mayor’s office tallied another candidate on Tuesday when John A. Catsimatidis announced he was running for the hotly contested position.

Catsimatidis, owner, president and CEO of grocery chain Red Apple Group, parent company of Gristedes, announced his candidacy on the steps of City Hall and promised to represent all New Yorkers, in every borough, if elected. His platform is based on strengthening the school system, better public safety and tax relief for the middle class.

“I want to be a mayor for all the neighborhoods of our great city,” he said in a campaign statement. “For Richmond Hill and Flushing, for Canarsie and Williamsbridge, for Harlem and for Wall Street for Riverdale and Throgs Neck and for Tottenville and New Dorp. I want to be a mayor who fairly represents all New Yorkers whether you are a cab driver from South Asia, a bodega owner from the Caribbean or an aspiring actor from the Midwest.”

The produce magnate is one of the few candidates from either party who has not spent the bulk of his career in public service. His main Republican opponent, former MTA chair Joe Lhota, was a budget director and then deputy mayor for former Mayor Rudoplh Guiliani. He’s also facing philanthropist George McDonald, chair of the homeless aid group, The Doe Fund.

“Unlike many of my opponents are who professional politicians and products of the cronyism of the political club house,” Catsimatidis said, “I come to this race as an independent businessman who will offer commonsense solutions to the problems that affect New York.”

Catsimatidis, 64, has a net worth of $3 billion as of last September, according to Forbes, and is ranked 132 in the magazine’s list of the 400 richest Americans.

Queens Republican chair Phil Ragusa said while the party has not officially endorsed a candidate, Catsimatidis has had support in the party based on his initiative to create jobs and fight for residents’ rights.

Photo: Twitter/@JCats2013

 

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Post: Doe Fund founder to announce GOP mayoral run Thursday


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

George McDonald, an advocate for the homeless, is gearing up to run for mayor as a Republican, the New York Post is reporting.

McDonald, who according to The Post paid himself nearly $500,000 in 2011, is joining what is shaping out to be an unexpected Republican primary for City Hall. He is expected to make his formal announcement at Grand Central Terminal this Thursday.

Former MTA Chair Joseph Lhota is expected to make his official bid later this month, after stepping down on December 31 to explore a run for mayor. Lhota served as a budget director and deputy mayor during the Giuliani Administration. He is expected to have the full backing of “America’s Mayor.”

McDonald heads The Doe Fund, established in 1985 to help homeless men and women get back to work and on their feet.

The Daily News reported in August that McDonald was entertaining the idea of the run – but little came from the news. He’ll also join potentials like John Catsimatidis, a grocery chain store owner, and former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión as the best Republican candidate.

Whoever wins the race could face one of several Democrats vying for City Hall. This includes City Council Speaker Christine Quinn; Public Advocate Bill de Blasio; Comptroller John Lui; and former Comptroller and 2009 mayoral candidate Bill Thompson.

Despite an overwhelmingly Democratic City Council, the Republicans have virtually held the Mayor’s Office for 20 years. Giuliani won in 1993 and 1997; Mayor Michael Bloomberg won as a Republican in 2001 and 2005 before running as an independent in 2009.

MTA head Joe Lhota resigns to explore mayoral run


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of MTA/Flickr

Following the MTA board’s approval of his fare hike proposal, CEO and Chairman Joe Lhota announced that he will resign, effective December 31, to consider running for New York City mayor in 2013.

At the announcement, Lhota said that he would make “no further comment” on his mayoral candidacy until early January, when he will announce his decision.

The approved fare and toll changes, which raise the MetroCard base and unlimited fares, reduce the discount, as well as increases ticket prices on the Long Island Railroad and Metro-North, and raise tolls on MTA bridges and tunnels, are Lhota’s last hoorah as the agency’s head, and could conceivably hurt his chances among voters.

Post-Sandy polls showed that the majority of New Yorkers were pleased with how the MTA responded to the superstorm and its aftermath, but voters are fed up with the frequent fare hikes.

His party could also be an obstacle.

After two decades, the city will likely have a Democratic mayor again.

A November Quinnipiac University poll found that if Lhota ran for mayor as a Republican he would lose to an unnamed Democratic candidate 60 to nine percent. Forty-five percent of those surveyed also disapproved of how Lhota is handling his job as the head of the MTA.

Current mayor Michael Bloomberg, who ran for his first two terms as a Republican before switching to an Independent before his third run, is expected to endorse City Council Speaker and Democrat Christine Quinn, and reportedly even asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to run.

Another former mayor, Rudy Giuliani, however, is expected to endorse Lhota, who served as his deputy mayor for operations. Giuliani also reportedly encouraged him to run.

The MTA chair also worked in investment banking, was an executive vice president for the Madison Square Garden Company, and served as the city’s budget director and commissioner of finance, before Governor

Andrew Cuomo appointed him as head of the transit agency in November 2011.

Before facing a Democrat, Lhota needs to win the Republican primary, where he could run against newspaper publisher Tom Allon, billionaire grocer John Catsimatidis, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, former Bronx borough president Adolfo Carrión Jr. and Doe Fund founder and president George McDonald.

The same November Quinnipiac poll also found that Lhota would lose to Carrión 62 to 11 percent.