Tag Archives: grades

Cuomo announces plans to speed up Sandy insurance claims


| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence Cullen

Insurance companies will need to answer Sandy insurance claims quicker or face poor grades in the state’s new online grading system for insurers.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the new measures yesterday to help expedite insurance payments to victims of Superstorm Sandy. The Department of Financial Services (DFS) issued a new regulation that will cut insurance companies’ time to follow up on claims from 15 days to six days.

Companies that do not begin investigating within six days face a fine of $1,000.

“In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, it is vital that New Yorkers receive their claim settlements as soon as possible, so that they can rebuild their homes, businesses and lives,” Cuomo said. “There simply is no substitute for speed when it comes to insurance payouts after a storm. We must do everything possible to make sure we hold insurance companies accountable to their customers.”

In addition to speeding up claims, the governor announced an online grading system assessing insurance companies to hold them accountable. The reports cards can be found at www.NYInsure.ny.gov.   The criteria insurance companies will be judged on is:

  • Number of claims and dollar amount of claims
  • Average time for an adjuster to inspect
  • Number of claims closed with and without payment so far
  • Total number of consumer complaints
  • Number of complaints as a percentage of number of claims

Politicians push to grade MTA subway stations


| RubenMuniz@queenscourier.com

subway

If the city council has its way, you may soon know how clean – or dirty – your subway is.

Councilmembers have proposed a plan to rate all 468 subway stations in New York City, similar to the grading system used for the city’s restaurants.

The MTA, however, has publicly rejected the plan to grade a system that runs across five boroughs.

“We’re not considering it,” said MTA spokesperson Kevin Ortiz.

Commuters, on the other hand, have had mixed reactions to the proposal.

Vanessa Lopierre, a recent graduate of CUNY City College, said she would give the Union Turnpike-Kew Gardens station on the “E” and “F” line a grade of “C”.

But Matthew Lebourne, a Richmond Hill resident, said he would give the same station a “D”.

Lebourne thought the grading plan was a good idea.

“It would give the MTA an idea of what customers think,” he said, on his way to work.

Currently, councilmembers are working on a resolution – in its early stages – to push for the grading system, said James McClelland, chief of staff for Councilmember Peter Koo, who has been lobbying for the grades.

Criteria would include cleanliness, water, garbage and graffiti.

If the resolution is passed, however, the MTA – a state organization – does not have to abide, as it is non-binding.

In that case, said McClelland, the council would strongly encourage state officials to push the MTA into a system.

If the city was to undertake the project itself, they would have to go through a non-profit third party, McClelland said.

Jason Chin-Fatt, a field organizer for the Straphanger’s Campaign, said the organization supported the idea of grading the subway system and holding transit managers more accountable. If the city was to initiate such a program, he said, it should be paying the bill.

“If [the subway system] was going to be graded by the city, they should pay to implement that program,” he said. “It should be on the city’s dime.”

Kimberly Eng, a senior at St. John’s University and a Fresh Meadows resident, said a station with a bad grade would not make her change her normal commute.

“I don’t think a grade is necessary because it won’t change the fact that it [Kew Gardens] is the closest train station to me,” she said. “I’m not going to inconvenience myself by going to another train station that is farther just because it might be ‘cleaner.’”

 

Man Hit, Killed At Queens Road Junction


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Cops save freezing kayaker

Cops yesterday rescued a fisherman whose kayak was sinking in the Atlantic off Jacob Riis Park. The 46-year-old called 9-1-1 at 1:19 p.m. when his boat started taking on water. NYPD Harbor boats began a search, but it was an Aviation Unit Air-Sea Rescue helicopter that located the fisherman as he was clinging to the submerged vessel in the frigid water. The victim was suffering from hypothermia when scuba-diving Officers Jason Gregory and Darren Blum were deployed from the chopper. He was lifted into the aircraft from a basket and rushed to New York Community Hospital. Read More: New York Post

NY lawmaker urges grading system for street food

New York City restaurants get letter grades and now the city food carts may get the same. State Senator Jose Peralta (D-Queens) is introducing legislation to require posted letter health grades for street vendors. Peralta says he wants to make sure whether the public eats in a quality restaurant or eats in a street mobile vending cart, that quality of the food meets certain health and safety standards. Read More: Fox News

Man Sues Boss Over Fat Jokes

A former New York furniture store employee says his manager was so fixated on his weight that she ordered him to establish a “fat club,” recruit members and act as its president. Thomas Hunt, 48, claims his manager at a Raymour & Flanigan furniture store in Queens, Marlene Albarano, relentlessly ribbed Hunt about his extra poundage — even denying him a promotion solely because of his appearance and once ordering him to walk around the building for 30 minutes on his lunch break. Read More: Fox News

Man Hit, Killed At Queens Road Junction

City fire officials say a man was walking near the Clearview-Long Island Expressway interchange in Fresh Meadows just before noon Sunday when he was hit and killed. The man was pronounced dead at the scene. Police said the car stayed on the scene and no criminality was suspected. Read More: NY1

Police Investigate Fatal Shooting Of Queens Teen

Police continue to investigate the shooting death of a teenage boy in front of a home in Queens. Officers were called to Beach Channel Drive in Far Rockaway just after 10:30 p.m. Thursday. When they arrived, they found Eric Norman, 18, dead after being shot in the head. So far, there are no arrests. Read More: NY1

Boozing JetBlue passenger busted by off-duty NYPD cop
A vacationing Bronx cop on a flight home from the Dominican Republic is being hailed a mile-high hero for taking down a berserk passenger who attacked a flight attendant. About an hour into JetBlue Flight 832 to Kennedy Airport, an unruly passenger a few rows behind the officer got loud. Antonio Ynoa, 22, was pestering a flight attendant for soda to mix with his duty-free rum. The flight attendant told Ynoa opening duty-free alcohol onboard was prohibited and repeatedly told him to put it away. The unemployed Ynoa, who was returning to New York from visiting his wife in the Dominican Republic, carried on drinking and yelling profanities. Read More: Daily News


Health Department fines frustrate Queens restaurant owners


| bdoda@queenscourier.com

Photo by Bob Doda

While the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) officials are cleaning up restaurants throughout the city, restaurant owners are claiming their wallets are being cleaned out at the same time.

Starting in July 2010, the DOHMH made it a requirement for restaurant owners to post the letter grade results of their sanitary inspection.

The grading system is intended to bolster aptitude toward being as clean as possible, but many restaurant owners believe that the frequency of inspections and number of fines received are becoming increasingly unfair.

According to the DOHMH web site, when a restaurant improves between initial inspections, the department reviews it less frequently.
“In about a year, they came three times even though we had an ‘A,’” said Dina Amatuccio, manager of Cascarino’s in Bayside. “The codes change and they don’t tell us. It’s aggravating because they come here when it’s really busy and it takes away from being able to pay attention to the customers. It’s annoying.”

Other restaurant owners in Bayside reported similar experiences with inspectors who, according to the DOHMH, are randomly assigned to specific eateries. One owner said that while an inspector may be paying attention to one area of violations, the next will concentrate on something completely different. A DOHMH spokesperson said that fines usually range from $200 to $2,000 based on severity of violations.

“We are just trying to survive here,” said one Bayside owner, also displaying an ‘A’ in his front window.

He said that despite the grade, he has had to pay violations twice over the past six months.

“The way they change the rules, I had to hire a guy just to make sure everything is perfect. I know they are trying to look out for the customer, but they should be more worried about places that have ‘B’ or ‘C’ ratings.”

Inspection cycles are individual to each restaurant, based on its pattern of cleanliness, according to the DOHMH. Some inspections are based on customers’ complaints or re-inspections from prior violations.
“The overarching goal of the restaurant letter grading program is transparency and food safety, not revenue or fines,” said a DOHMH spokesperson. “The Department is now inspecting restaurants that perform at ‘C’ grade levels about three times each year, ‘B’s twice, and ‘A’s, once per year. Each time a restaurant improves its score on its initial inspections, it can reduce the frequency with which it is inspected, and thereby decrease its potential to incur violations and pay fines.”

One Long Island City restaurant owner who received a ‘B’ inspection grade believes that the system is too ambiguous for customers to understand.

“They see a low letter grade and they automatically think the restaurant is dirty,” said the owner. “We have a ‘B’ because we didn’t have the appropriate paperwork on file. Consumers see the grade and they think the worst . . . Personally, I like the grading system. I think restaurants should put out high-quality food that is safe for the public and is held to a certain standard. I thought it was great until I saw the way they were doing it. They come in for an inspection, find something, fine you and then another inspector comes in and doesn’t inspect what the last guy inspected. He just finds something new and fines you for it.”

During the 2011 fiscal year, revenue collected for fines from food service establishments reached $42.5 million dollars, according to the DOHMH. The Health Department anticipates a five percent reduction in fines collected each year for the next two years going forward.

In January, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a fine relief program designed to reward those who got an ‘A’ grade on initial and re-inspections with no fines.

Still, restaurant owners have a different take on inspections.

“I think there’s a lot of miscommunication on the inspector’s end,” said Chris Evans, co-owner of Press 195 in Bayside with an ‘A’ grade. “You’ll get a story that something is wrong and we’ll correct it. Then, another inspector will come and say that’s not how it should be done. You’ll be told to do one thing and they fine you for it the next time.”

“Inspectors are really going rogue at this point,” said the previously-mentioned Long Island City restaurant owner. “I think the bottom line is that the city needs money . . . for us small places, these fines are killing us.”

Restaurant grades throughout the city, including all recorded violations as well as statistics from the first year of grading implementation, can be found by visitingwww.nyc.gov/health.

–With additional reporting by Melissa Chan and Steve Mosco