Tag Archives: governor

Cuomo announces crackdown on designer drugs


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the governor's office

New regulations will help crack down on the rapidly expanding synthetic drug industry, the governor announced on Tuesday.

“The actions we are announcing today attack the problem by helping our law enforcement officers enforce the rules, expanding the list of banned substances used to manufacture bath salts and imposing tougher penalties so those who sell these drugs are held accountable,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

The state’s Department of Health expanded its list of prohibited drugs and chemicals to include dozens of more substances used to make synthetic drugs. Penalties were also stiffened allowing store owner selling the substances to be charged with possession of an illicit substance and face time behind bars.

Distributors of the drug were skirting laws by tweaking the drug’s ingredients to avoid substances banned by the state’s controlled substances laws.

These “designer drugs” include bath salts and synthetic marijuana sold under names such as White Lightning, Tranquility, Zoom and Blaze.

In June and July, there were 120 emergency room visits as a result of bath salts after just 39 all of 2011, the governor said. More than 300 calls were made to the state’s Poison Control Center in the year’s first six months after only 20 in 2010, the center said.

A hot line was also set up for residents to report establishments selling the illegal substances.

Stiffer federal laws were put into place recently, but the governor said local law enforcement officials for will be able to pursue perpetrators under state laws for the first time.

 

TSA apologizes to elderly women for strip search at Kennedy Airport


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

TSA apologizes to elderly women for strip search at Kennedy Airport

In an about-face, the feds have admitted wrongdoing in the cases of two elderly women who say they were strip-searched at Kennedy Airport by overzealous screeners. Federal officials had initially insisted that all “screening procedures were followed” after Ruth Sherman, 89, and Lenore Zimmerman, 85, went public with separate accounts of humiliating strip searches. But in a letter obtained by the Daily News, the Homeland Security Department acknowledges that screeners violated standard practice in their treatment of the ailing octogenarians last November. Read More: Daily News

Governor Cuomo’s public pension bomb

Gov. Cuomo lobbed a political grenade at New York’s powerful public-employee unions yesterday, proposing a radical pension overhaul for future city and state workers as part of his $132.5 billion state budget plan. Cuomo said the plan would save New York City $30 billion in pension costs over 30 years, while saving $83 billion for the state and local governments outside the city over the same period. “We can no longer sustain the current pension system,” Cuomo said, citing a projected 185 percent treasury-busting increase in pension costs from 2009 to 2015 if nothing is done. Read More: New York Post

Bayside mourns beloved father of six

When Lawrence Hilsdorf was laid to rest, an entire community cried. The 55-year-old, affectionately known as “Larry,” was more than just a Bayside resident – he was a neighborhood icon, and his roots in the community ran deep. He went to Sacred Heart, then Bayside High School, before settling to raise his own family in the area. The father of six boys – Charlie, 25, James, 20, twins Billy and Bobby, 18, Patrick, 15, and Jack, 13 – Larry put his life on the line as a police officer beginning in 1981, first with the Queens North Task Force, and then with the 114th Precinct in Astoria. Read More: Queens Courier

Hunt for cruise victims on hold as wreckage shifts

Italian rescue workers suspended operations Wednesday after a stricken cruise ship shifted slightly on the rocks near the Tuscan coast, creating deep concerns about the safety of divers and firefighters searching for the 22 people still missing. The $450 million Costa Concordia cruise ship had more than 4,200 passengers and crew on board when it slammed into the reef Friday off the tiny Italian island of Giglio after the captain made an unauthorized maneuver. The bodies of five adult passengers — four men and one woman, all wearing lifejackets — were discovered in the wreckage Tuesday, raising the death toll to 11. Their nationalities were not immediately released. Read More: New York Post

Giants passing game could slip against 49ers if weather is bad

There is zero percent chance the Giants will be able to operate their high-flying passing attack at peak efficiency Sunday against the 49ers in the NFC Championship. Anyone who thinks they can is all wet. The cohesive, rugged, old-school (think defense first) 49ers would be a challenge no matter where and no matter what the conditions, but looming up ahead is the true test whether or not the Giants are an all-weather team. After a rousing 37-20 Divisional beatdown of the defending champion Packers in the cold at Lambeau Field, go figure that a trip to northern California could be fraught with soggy peril for the Giants. Read More: New York Post

Wikipedia goes dark in protest of anti-piracy legislation

Free online knowledge site Wikipedia has gone dark as part of a protest over legislation in the US Congress intended to crack down on online piracy. The English version of the online encyclopedia shut down at midnight Tuesday ET. The website will be inaccessible for 24 hours to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) introduced in the House of Representatives and the Senate version, the Protect IP Act (PIPA). It was replaced with a message that read, “Imagine a World Without Free Knowledge.” “For over a decade, we have spent millions of hours building the largest encyclopedia in human history. Right now, the US Congress is considering legislation that could fatally damage the free and open internet. For 24 hours, to raise awareness, we are blacking out Wikipedia,” it went on. Read More: New York Post

Residents Protest Jackson Heights Supermarket

Some Jackson Heights residents and elected officials have declared the Trade Fair store on 37th Avenue a blight on the neighborhood and are rallying for it to clean up its act. Read More & Watch the Video: NY1

Two Correction Officers Sentenced In Connection With 2008 Rikers Assaults

After reaching a plea deal with the Bronx district attorney’s office, former Correction Officers Michael McKie and Khalid Nelson learned their fates Tuesday in State Supreme Court in the Bronx. City investigators said the pair were among officers at Rikers Island running an intimidation campaign known as “the program,” and they had ordered teenage inmates to beat up others to maintain discipline in the adolescent unit. McKie, seen above left, who pleaded guilty to assault, was sentenced to two years in state prison. Nelson, seen above right, who pleaded guilty to attempted assault, was sentenced to one year. Read More: NY1

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

Figoski’s ‘murderer’ says he never set out to ‘kill a cop’


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Figoski’s ‘murderer’ says he never set out to ‘kill a cop’

The thug accused of gunning down Officer Peter Figoski last month during a botched Brooklyn robbery told detectives after his arrest he was “sorry” and never set out to “kill a cop.” “I’m sorry for what I did,” Lamont Pride blurted out as the detectives drove him to Central Booking, according to court papers made public at a brief hearing in Brooklyn Supreme Court yesterday. “I didn’t mean for this to happen,” Pride whined. Read More: New York Post

NYC employee arrested for allegedly selling drugs in front of residential building in Queens

A New York City employee has been arrested on drug charges. Police say 47-year-old Donald Gibbs was arrested for allegedly selling drugs in front of a residential building in Queens Wednesday evening. Police say Gibbs was employed as a NYPD school safety agent. He was charged with criminal sale of a controlled substance and criminal use of drug paraphernalia. It was not immediately clear if he had a lawyer. Read More: New York Post

Mega Convention Center Planned for Queens

There were two major points in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State speech that everyone saw coming, both of which have a lot to do with Queens. During his speech on Wednesday, January 4, the governor formally introduced the idea of legalizing full table gaming in New York State, which would mean big news for Resorts World Casino in South Ozone Park. He also revealed his plan to initiate the building of the country’s largest convention center on that ground, the former site of the Aqueduct Racino. Read More: Queens Courier

Life for pregnant-gal slay

A Queens man convicted of murdering his pregnant girlfriend was tossed into prison for 25 years to life yesterday. Derrick Redd, 39, of Far Rockaway, was found guilty of stabbing Naisha Delain about 30 times, killing her and their unborn son on the baby’s due date. Before Redd was sentenced by Queens Supreme Court Justice Daniel Lewis, he slammed the judge for denying his lawyer’s motion to throw out the jury’s verdict. Delain’s mom, Towanda Wimms, and other family members left the court praising the judge with applause. Read More: New York Post

Judge rips man who set up ex-girlfriend as ‘diabolical” & sends him to jail for 32 years

A Queens judge sentenced a cunning private eye to 32 years in prison Wednesday, calling him a “diabolical conniver and sinister manipulator” who framed his ex-girlfriend for robbery after she accused him of rape. Supreme Court Justice Richard Buchter tore into Jerry Ramrattan for trying to bolster his plea for mercy by bragging about the help he had given law enforcement agencies as a confidential informant. Read More: Daily News

Overview of Cuomo’s 2012 State of the State Address

 

In his second State of the State speech since taking office, Governor Andrew Cuomo said he plans to straighten out the state’s fiscal problems while expanding job growth and strengthening education. In front of hundreds of lawmakers, policy leaders and other New Yorkers, the governor delivered his vision for 2012 – a vision that seeks to spin stagnation into governmental action. Read More & Watch the Video: Queens Courier

State Liquor Authority postpones decision for controversial Long Island City strip club

Supporters and opponents of a proposed Long Island City strip club have two more weeks to make their case before the State Liquor Authority. Commissioners from the authority heard more than an hour of testimony Wednesday but delayed a decision until a January 18 meeting so they can pore through reports and other documents submitted by the Gypsy Rose’s operators, known as 21 Group Inc. Elected officials and community leaders have fought bitterly over the last few years to stop the club from opening at the 21st Street location, just at the foot of the Queensboro Bridge. Read More: Daily News

Alleged Queens firebomber wanted to massacre Muslims in mosque, prosecutors say

The unhinged Queens pyromaniac who unleashed a scary New Year’s Day firebombing spree had planned to take out “as many Muslims and Arabs as possible” by lobbing Molotov cocktails at worshipers inside a mosque, prosecutors said. Ray Lazier Lengend, 40, allegedly told cops he had planned to inflict “as much damage as possible” by hurling all five of his firebombs from the balcony of Imam Al-Khoei Islamic Center onto the crowd below.
The hateful bomb-hurler, who is under psychiatric observation at Bellevue Hospital center, flat-out told detectives he did not like Muslims or Arabs, prosecutors said. “This is a message to anyone who does this in the future,” said Imam Maan Al-Sahlani, leader of Imam Al-Khoei Islamic Center, where Lengend planned to inflict major casualties. “It’s a good message that justice will come for you, the police will come for you.” Read More: Daily News

Cuomo delivers 2012 State of the State [Watch Video of Speech]


| smosco@queenscourier.com

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In his second State of the State speech since taking office, Governor Andrew Cuomo said he plans to straighten out the state’s fiscal problems while expanding job growth and strengthening education.

In front of hundreds of lawmakers, policy leaders and other New Yorkers, the governor delivered his vision for 2012 – a vision that seeks to spin stagnation into governmental action.

“New York State is on the way to coming back stronger than ever before,” the governor said during his speech from Albany on Wednesday, January 4. “By working together in a bipartisan manner and putting the people first, we have established the credibility to govern and to lead. Now we must build on what we have already accomplished to begin to undo decades of decline. We have big problems, but we are confronting them with big solutions. Now is the time to get to work, building a New New York together.”

Cuomo revealed his “Economic Blueprint for New York” and issued a challenge to the state and to himself: “Our challenge for 2012 is this: How does government spur job creation in a down economy while limiting spending and maintaining fiscal discipline? The answer is forging public-private partnerships that leverage state resources to generate billions of dollars in economic growth and create thousands of jobs.”

Some of the governor’s major points included:

- Building the largest convention center in the country at the Aqueduct Racino in South Ozone Park
-Revamping the Jacob Javits site
-$1 billion economic development package for Buffalo
- A second round of Regional Economic Development awards
- Utilization of casino gaming
- New York Works Fund and task force to create private sector jobs and rebuild the state’s infrastructure.
- An “Energy Highway” system to power New York’s economic growth
- Invest in solar energy

Cuomo said that in order to tackle his agenda for 2012, the state government would have to be reimaged in a way that it performs better at a lower cost. To accomplish this, the governor proposed:

- Long term commitment to fiscal discipline by holding the line on spending and closing the remaining $2 billion budget deficit with no new taxes or fees.
-Mandate Relief, which will reform the pension system. The governor said he will ask the joint legislature and executive mandate relief council to hold public hearings.
- Transform public education by appointing a bipartisan education commission to work with the legislature to recommend reforms in key areas including teach accountability, student achievement and management efficiency.
-Redesigning New York’s Emergency Management System by calling for a statewide network of municipal and regional emergency responders.

Cuomo also lauded New York for its progressive history and said that history will be built upon with these initiatives:

- Foreclosure Prevention Assistance
- Tenant Protection Unit
- Continued commitment to Minority and Women-Owned Businesses
- Additional SUNY Challenge Grants
- Increase participation in food stamp programs
- Create an all-crimes DNA database
- Establish a tax reform and fairness commission
- Implement campaign finance reform

Slay-suicide horror in Maspeth


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Slay-suicide horror in Maspeth

A woman died yesterday after her boyfriend slashed her throat in their Maspeth apartment, stabbed her stepson, then jumped in front of an LIRR train, authorities said. Maureen Biermann, 43, died at Wyckoff Heights Hospital. Her attacker, James Peck, 33, died on the tracks. Biermann’s stepson, 22, was in stable condition. Read More: Daily News

No deals for cop ‘killers

Brooklyn’s top prosecutor yesterday said he won’t even think about cutting plea deals with the five thugs accused of murdering cop Peter Figoski. “There will be a trial,” District Attorney Charles Hynes vowed. “We want the public to understand that the murder of a police officer is as serious as any crime we’ve ever had. In cases like this, there’s no indication of a plea deal — ever.” Read More: New York Post

Queens pair sentenced in Virginia for bank fraud

Two New York residents have been sentenced in Virginia for their roles in a scheme to fraudulently tap into home equity lines of credit and credit card accounts. U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride says 41-year old Joan Marsh of Queens was sentenced Monday to eight years in prison. Thirty-year-old Ayodele Adewale Onasanya of Queens was sentenced to seven years and three months in prison. A federal jury convicted Marsh in September on a dozen conspiracy, bank fraud and money laundering counts. Onasanya pleaded guilty in September to conspiracy to commit bank fraud.  Read More: Wall Street Journal

A mission born from a cause

Fifteen-year-old Carly Rose Nieves is turning ordinary people into heroes, one pint of blood at a time. For the second year in a row, the Middle Village teen — and her team of family members and friends — organized a blood drive and bone marrow registry at Christ the King (CTK) Regional High School. The December 17 event brought in 75 pints of blood and 10 new bone marrow donors for the New York Blood Center. Read More: Queens Courier

After Resigning, Tearful Senator Pleads Guilty to Accepting Bribes

In the annals of municipal corruption in New York City, the themes of graft, greed and betrayal have been familiar running mates from one century to the next, accompanying the fall of the Tammany boss William Tweed in the 1870s, the resignation of the popular mayor James J. Walker in 1932, and the bribes, appetites and suicide of Donald R. Manes, a former Queens borough president, in 1986. But the denouement of the political career of State Senator Carl Kruger, who pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges on Tuesday, goes beyond that story line, encompassing tales of romance and perhaps even sacrifice, and laying bare one of the more bizarre domestic tableaux — even by New York standards — ever uncovered by F.B.I. wiretaps. Read More: New York Times

Aqueduct racino construction workers exposed to hazards including lead, feds say

Construction workers toiled virtually around the clock to get Queens’ glitzy gaming hub operational, but federal officials are now charging that contractors cut corners when it came to safety. Five companies skirted regulations during construction of the Aqueduct racino this summer and exposed employees to hazardous conditions, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration said Monday. Read More: Daily News

Five Remaining MLB Free Agents Who Can Help the New York Mets: Fan’s Take

The New York Mets need all the help they can get. Unfortunately, they aren’t willing to pay much to get it. All indications are that the financially-challenged Mets will stay away from free agent solutions for 2012 as they look to cut payroll. However, these five overlooked free agents may come at a discount, tempting Mets general manager Sandy Alderson to give them a call. It may be worth it. Read More: Yahoo Sports

Deal Struck to Broaden Taxi Service in the City

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo struck a deal with the Bloomberg administration on Tuesday that would expand taxi service in New York by allowing livery cabs to be hailed on the street in parts of the city traditionally underserved by yellow cabs. The agreement, which Cuomo is poised to sign into law on Wednesday and which ends months of fractious negotiations, would also create 2,000 more wheelchair-accessible yellow cabs. The auction of those medallions is expected to raise at least $1 billion for the city. Read More: New York Times

Politics Aside: Time for pink slips to fly


| RHornak@queenscourier.com

Nobody likes to see anyone fired; especially when times are tough and jobs are hard to find. But the fact remains that one of New York’s biggest problems is a bloated public employee force, with generous pay and benefits compared to what is found in the private sector.

Governor Andrew Cuomo is approaching the end of his first year in office and has received high marks across the board for his make-no-excuses approach to dealing with our budget problems. This has been a crises going back over 20 years to the last Governor Cuomo, and every governor since has addressed the problem the same way, raise taxes and raise spending even more.

This has created a structural problem, where our budget increases at a rate faster than we can keep up with. Much of this has been driven by Big Labor, which has not only refused to make concessions in the past, but instead has kept up pressure for bigger and more outrageous increases that have driven New York to the top of the highest taxed state list.

To his credit, Cuomo has refused to engage in the tactics of the past, namely passing the buck for another year while resorting to class-warfare/soak-the-rich campaigns that always ended up with higher taxes on the middle class (often disguised as fees). This was the modus operandi during the Mario Cuomo, Pataki and Spitzer years.

Now almost 10 months in, it’s time for the governor to make some tough decisions. CSEA, the largest union in N.Y., has worked out a five-year agreement with Cuomo to cut costs with no layoffs. However, that deal doesn’t seem to be acceptable to PEF, the 56,000-member public employees union. Union leaders agreed to the deal over the summer, but now the members have voted to reject the contract.

Cuomo promised that if they didn’t ratify the contract, he would be forced to lay off 3,500 members. Now PEF wants to renegotiate, complaining about the five-year term of the contract, among other things. But after more than 20 years of riding the gravy train, more than five years of austerity will be required to get our house in order.

This should be a non-negotiable point. CSEA already set the standard by agreeing to a five year deal. If Cuomo caves on this with PEF, he will be far weaker when dealing with other unions. Nobody wants to see anyone fired now, but Cuomo must make good on his promise. Fire the 3,500 PEF employees, who the union clearly didn’t feel were a priority, and let’s make New York’s budget structurally sound once and for all.

Robert Hornak is a Queens-based political consultant, blogger, and an active member of the Queens Republican Party.