Tag Archives: Gregory Meeks

$225M residential and retail tower coming to Downtown Jamaica


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

File photo

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A new mixed-use, residential and commercial $225 million building with hundreds of units is planned for Downtown Jamaica near the AirTrain, officials said.

Greater Jamaica Development Corporation (GJDC), which owns the 93-01 Sutphin Blvd. site, recently announced the project and that BRP Companies, a New York-based developer, will build the tower.

On completion, the tower will have 400 residential units and at least 80,000 square feet of retail and commercial space, according to the GJDC.

The project will anchor the western end of Downtown Jamaica’s transit hub, where the AirTrain, 10 branches of the Long Island Rail Road, two subway lines and dozens of bus routes converge.

Officials are praising the project as another step in the growth of the area.

“This is an exciting day for Jamaica, and an exciting day for the entire city of New York,” said Congressmember Gregory Meeks. “This project further validates Downtown Jamaica as a prime location for private investment in transit-oriented development.”

 

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Senate passes bill to delay flood insurance hikes, urges Congress to follow suit


| mhayes@queenscourier.com


Following the threat of significantly raised flood insurance rates, the Senate passed a bill on Thursday that would ensure residents in flood zones get a chance at a reasonable premium.

The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, which received the bipartisan majority vote in the Senate, would require FEMA to enact an affordability study to ensure flood insurance is accurate and affordable.

“It makes no sense to raise flood insurance rates before we consider how homeowners will be able to afford to pay them,” said Senator Charles Schumer, who co-sponsored the bill.

Now, Schumer is urging Congress and ultimately President Barack Obama to follow suit and make the bill law.

The act would additionally require real solutions be proposed to address insurance affordability issues before rates can be raised.

Schumer called it an “an important step in the fight to prevent tens of thousands of New Yorkers from facing crippling flood insurance premium increases and loss of property value.”

These regulations will help protect homeowners from increased premiums set to be imposed by the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Act, Schumer said, which would require the National Flood Insurance Program to raise flood rates to reflect “true flood risk” for a policyholder, according to FEMA.

In November, Congressmembers Gregory Meeks and Hakeem Jeffries co-sponsored the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Care Act of 2013, legislation also meant to address the flood insurance rate increase and “keep residents from being priced out of our community,” Meeks said.

The act imposes a four-year delay for certain primary residences. It also mandates FEMA complete an affordability study, which will take two years.

 

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Bill could delay flood insurance hikes for Sandy victims


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Flood zone residents can rest easy for now ‑ as impending increases in flood insurance have been put on the backburner.

Congressmembers Gregory Meeks and Hakeem Jeffries co-sponsored the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Care Act of 2013, legislation meant to address the flood insurance rate increase and “keep residents from being priced out of our community,” Meeks said.

In July 2012, Congress passed the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act, which would require the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to raise flood rates to reflect “true flood risk” for a policyholder, according to FEMA.

As a result of the act, residents said that over time, their rates could get as high as $30,000 a year. Rallies protesting the price hikes were held nationwide in September, including one at the Broad Channel American Legion Hall, which brought in hundreds of residents.

“We’d like to think we played a small role,” said Dan Mundy, Jr., president of the Broad Channel Civic Association. “It’s a really important first step. We hope to maybe have some input on this.”

The insurance affordability act imposes a four-year delay for certain primary residences. It also mandates FEMA complete an affordability study, which will take two years.

The new bill also allows FEMA to reimburse policyholders who successfully appeal a map determination.
Meeks and Jeffries worked with over 80 other members of Congress to pass the act and “fix” the NFIP, he said.

He vows to work with colleagues “across the aisle” to ensure the bill is signed into law and successfully implemented.

“The painful devastation we experienced during Sandy brought us together to get this done, but it was the resilience and commitment to rebuilt from the people of Rockaway that served as inspiration to make it happen,” Meeks said.

 

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Eyes on possible Malcolm Smith replacement


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

The charges against State Senator Malcolm Smith already have the political world swirling with rumors on a potential replacement if the embattled legislator is found guilty.

Councilmember Leroy Comrie and Jason Hilliard, chief of staff for Congressmember Gregory Meeks, were both reported to be eyeing the spot.

But Comrie, a candidate for borough president, said he doesn’t have any plans to drop out and switch his focus to Albany. Right now Comrie is focused on the race for Borough Hall – an election the deputy majority leader is confident he can win.

“I’m only focused on winning and becoming the next borough president,” Comrie told The Courier. “I’m very confident that many people think I can be the next borough president.”

Even if Smith is expelled from the Senate, Comrie said he is not considering a run, as right now the former is still a senator and only charged with the offenses.

Hilliard did not immediately comment.

If Smith is convicted of a felony, he will automatically be removed from the Senate under state law, thus forcing a special election.

 

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Rockaway Beach line restoration gets federal support


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Terence Cullen

Proposed revival of the Rockaway Beach LIRR Line has gotten some federal backing.

Congressmembers Hakeem Jeffries and Gregory Meeks are all-aboard for restoring the 50-year-defunct line in a new form, which would effectively link Rego Park to Ozone Park via mass transit.

Together with Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder, they have sent a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, asking for federal money from Sandy for restoring the line.

“What this rail line would do, if completely restored, would intersect on five or six different points, giving people options,” said Goldfeder, who’s pushed rail restoration since coming into office a year-and-a-half ago.

“If you try and drive on Woodhaven Boulevard or Cross Bay Boulevard in the morning or afternoon, our streets are jammed.”

Meeks, who began representing the Rockaways in January, said this was needed now more than ever as the peninsula and its residents try to rebuild.

Jeffries, representing Ozone Park and Howard Beach, said south Queens commuters have one of the longest trips to Manhattan, and LIRR service would reduce the hour-plus commute to Midtown. It is, he noted, one of the longest commutes within NYC, “perhaps rivaled only by some in the southern part of Staten Island.”

Because neighborhoods such as Woodhaven have expanded closer to the tracks since train service ended in June 1962, many are concerned about a rail line right next to their home. But officials say they’ve explored new ways of silent transportation, such as a monorail, to reduce noise.

Trains could stop at the Howard Beach-JFK A train station in Coleman Square if the line is revived.

Commuters going to Rockaway would transfer to the A train, which is expected to be up and running later this summer.

A rail line, however, is not the only plan on the table for the three-mile strip.

The Queensway, a nature walk, has been the counterpart proposal to the plan and would be similar to the Highline in Manhattan. Andrea Crawford, a founding member of “Friends of Queensway,” said she didn’t believe the LIRR would be a practical way of transit – suggesting instead implementing rapid bus transit or improving A train service.

Members of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association are for better north-south transportation in Queens and reducing traffic on Woodhaven Boulevard, said communications director Alex Blenkinsopp. Because the rail line would run so close to homes, however, they are against this type of development.

WRBA hosted a town hall meeting on the LIRR line and the Queensway last September, but ultimately decided to urge the city to clean up the abandoned, overgrown strip of land.

“They’re not even trying to convince Woodhaven at this point,” Blenkinsopp said. “They seem to have decided that they need to railroad us, rather than attempting to address our concerns.”

 

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Queens congressmembers get mixed results on environment


| mchan@queenscourier.com


Some Queens congressmembers aced their green test last year. But some were average, and one was at the bottom of the class.

That is according to the New York League of Conservation Voters (NYLCV) latest national environmental scorecard.

Congressmembers Steve Israel and Carolyn Maloney were tops, with each scoring a 97, followed by Joseph Crowley with a 91. Both of the state’s U.S. Senators, Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, scored 93 percent. Nydia Velázquez trailed slightly with an 86 percent and Gregory Meeks pulled a 77 percent.

Former representative Gary Ackerman scored a 74. But another retiring congressmember, Bob Turner, had an abysmal 3 percent, a low matched by Tea Party Republicans representing Big Oil districts in Texas.

The scores are based on 14 Senate votes and 35 House votes on public health, clean energy, land and wildlife conservation issues.

“In the face of unprecedented attacks on laws protecting water, air and land, environmental allies like Steve Israel, Caroline [sic] Maloney … stood up for our values and put New Yorkers first,” said NYLCV President Marcia Bystryn in a statement. “While Americans were seeing the historic impacts of extreme weather right outside their window, members like … Bob Turner continued to ignore the reality of climate change.”

The state’s average House score in the most recent review was 65 percent, falling drastically from 97 percent in 2010.

“The U.S. House of Representatives sided with Big Oil and corporate polluters time and time again in 2012, cementing its status as the most anti-environmental House in our nation’s history,” said Gene Karpinski, president of the country’s League of Conservation Voters.

“The best that can be said about this session of the 112th Congress is that it’s over,” Karpinski said.

 

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Grace Meng sworn in as first Asian-American from NY in Congress


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Maggie Hayes

The Courier tagged along on a bus trip to Washington, D. C. as the 113th Congress was sworn in.

It’s five in the morning, and over 100 people gathered outside in Flushing, anxiously waiting to board buses making the trek down to our nation’s capital to watch the 113th Congress — and the first Asian-American from New York — be sworn in.

Former Assemblymember Grace Meng made history last November when she was elected to represent the 6th Congressional District.

Community leaders and constituents journeyed to Washington, D.C. on Thursday, January 3 to witness her, along with Hakeem Jeffries, Gregory Meeks and Steve Israel, officially become members of the 113th Congress.

“We are very proud today,” said Councilmember Peter Koo. “It’s very historic. I hope that she [Meng] will be a role model and a trailblazer for the new generation.”

After the drive to D.C., supporters were able to watch the newly minted Congressmembers cast their first vote for House Speaker, and then be officially sworn in to the new session.

Hakeem Jeffries, Meng’s former colleague in the Assembly, was also sworn in to represent the 8th Congressional District — which includes Howard Beach, Ozone Park and Lindenwood. Jeffries faced a comparatively lighter general election than Meng, after the Brooklyn-based legislator beat Councilmember Charles Barron in a June primary election.

Incumbent members of Congress Joseph Crowley of the 14th District, Gregory Meeks of the 5th District, and Steve Israel of the 3rd held onto their positions in the House and were also sworn into the new session.

After the swearing in ceremony, Meng joined her constituents and spoke about upcoming plans in her new position. Gun control legislation, immigration reform and passing the Sandy aid bill are at the forefront.

“There are a lot of issues that we need to work on, and I look forward to working with you,” Meng said. “And you all are the eyes and ears of our community.”

 

Ethics committee clears Congressmember Meeks of receiving impermissible gifts


| brennison@queenscourier.com


The House Ethics Committee closed its investigation into allegations that Congressmember Gregory Meeks received an improper gift in the form of a 2007 loan with no finding of wrong doing.

The investigation stemmed from a $40,000 loan Meeks received from Edul Ahmad that the Queens congressmember failed to disclose.

The ethics committee said failure to report such items are common and found “no credible evidence that the errors were knowing or willful.” They concluded there was no evidence it constituted an impermissible gift.

Since the failure to disclose, Meeks has claimed the loan in his Financial Disclosure Statements and repaid it with a 12.5 percent interest rate, according to the committee.

Ahmad, who pleaded guilty to unrelated fraud charges, alleged there was no signed loan document, but the committee could not confirm this detail because Ahmad through his attorney refused to be interviewed for the investigation.

Without documentation and based just on Ahmad’s allegations, the committee found it would be “unreasonable” to find Meek’s sworn testimony untruthful.

Meeks secures 8th term in Congress


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Congressmember Gregory Meeks's office

Incumbent Congressmember Gregory Meeks slid smoothly into victory on Tuesday, November 6, defeating challenger Allan Jennings in the 5th Congressional District.

Meeks, who won with 88.6 percent of the vote according to unofficial results, will kick off his eighth term in the House, now representing the newly drawn 5th District, encompassing all of southeast Queens and some of Nassau County.

“I have three most foremost goals,” said the incumbent. “The first is to effectively help [my] constituents resolve whatever federal issues they may have, like problems with medicare, social security, medicaid [and] immigration.”

The Democrat’s other goals relate to job creating legislation, by both supporting and introducing bills that spark employment, and also working locally to develop his district into a “more cohesive and innovative economic engine.”

“With JFK Airport, Resorts World, Belmont Racetrack, Green Acres Mall, hospitals … and a skilled workforce, the 5th CD has assets that could become job creating hubs and corridors of entrepreneurial innovation,” he said.

Meeks came out on top of challenger Jennings, who ran on the Republican line though he is a registered Democrat. Jennings also ran in the Democratic primary, but was defeated by the congressmember. He then re-entered the race on the Republican ticket.

Jennings, a former Councilmember, has repeatedly run unsuccessfully for office since the loss of his council seat in 2005.

Queens Morning Roundup


| brennison@queenscourier.com


TODAY’S FORECAST

Friday: A slight chance of showers between noon and 2pm. Mostly cloudy, then gradually becoming sunny, with a high near 62. Breezy, with a northwest wind 10 to 20 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%. Friday night: Clear, with a low around 41. North wind 9 to 17 mph.

Biden and Ryan quarrel aggressively in debate, offering contrasts

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Representative Paul D. Ryan fiercely quarreled at the vice-presidential debate here on Thursday night, with Mr. Biden using the cutting attack lines against the Republican ticket that Mr. Obama did not and Mr. Ryan delivering a spirited case for conservative policies that Mr. Romney had soft-pedaled. Read more: NY Times

Yankees fall in closeout game, allow Baltimore Orioles to force ALDS Game 5 on J.J. Hardy’s game-winning RBI double in the 13th inning

This time Raul IObanez didn’t help. Pinch-hitting for A-Rod didn’t help. The Yankees are running out of alternatives and answers as their Game 5 fate beckons. As the Bombers failed to conjure the previous game’s magic, the Orioles extended this best-of-five American League division series to a decisive game with a 13-inning, 2-1 victory over the Yankees Thursday night at the Stadium. Read more: Daily News

Melinda Katz kicks off campaign for borough president

Noting that it was crucial to determine what the common needs of a diverse borough like Queens were, Melinda Katz, former member of the City Council and Assembly, embarked Wednesday, October 10 on a year-long run for the borough president’s office — after incumbent Helen Marshall steps down at the end of 2013 due to term limits. Read more: Queens Courier

ESU police attempted To save Queens man shot by their fellow officer

On video taken shortly after Noel Polanco was shot by an Emergency Service Unit officer on the Grand Central Parkway in Queens, the 22-year-old is seen being brought out of a unmarked ESU truck on a stretcher. Polanco, 22, was fatally shot by ESU Detective Hassan Hamdy following an early morning traffic stop near LaGuardia Airport last Thursday. Read more: NY1

MTA announces three new fast-track bus routes to LaGuardia Airport

The city and MTA are creating three souped-up bus routes to LaGuardia Airport, including one from Manhattan and one from the Bronx. With the new routes, Select Bus Service — which includes trip-speeding tactics like curbside payment — will be in every borough next year, officials said. Read more: Daily News

iPhone thief prowls Queens

An iPhone thief is wreaking havoc in Queens, police said. The robber is responsible for stealing eight of the smartphones between Aug. 1 and Sept. 20 in neighborhoods such as Astoria and Hunters Point. Read more: NY Post

Long Island City strip club hopes third time is the charm for liquor license

The owners of a controversial Long Island City strip club who have twice been denied a liquor license are hoping the third time’s the charm. Lawyers for 21 Group Inc., which currently operates Show Palace, have asked the New York State Liquor Authority to reconsider their most recent application. Read more: Daily News

Meeks pal cops plea

A Queens businessman who had been pressed by prosecutors to dish dirt on his friend, embattled Rep. Gregory Meeks, pleaded guilty yesterday to a $50 million mortgage-fraud scheme. Edul Ahmad — whose $40,000 “loan” to Meeks in 2007 remains the subject of a House Ethics Committee probe — faces up to 30 years in prison when he’s sentenced for the mortgage scam that enabled unqualified home buyers to get loans. Read more: NY Post

MCU cuts ribbon on southeast Queens facility


| tcimino@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy MCU

Municipal Credit Union (MCU) has expanded its footprint in Queens with the opening of its new branch in Springfield Gardens.

Congressmember Gregory Meeks, Assemblymember William Scarborough, Councilmember Leroy Comrie, and District Leader Elmer Blackburne joined MCU president/CEO Kam Wong and board chair Mark S. Brantley in cutting the ribbon on the new full-service Springfield Gardens MCU branch, which is located at 134-66 Springfield Boulevard.

The Springfield Gardens branch is MCU’s second branch in Queens and first in the southern part of the borough. MCU’s other Queens branch is in Elmhurst. It is also the credit union’s first branch system-wide to have an e-banking center. The e-banking center allows members to conduct a wide range of banking transactions, including transferring funds between accounts, checking account status and applying for loans.

“MCU is excited to open its Springfield Gardens location,” said MCU President and CEO Kam Wong.”We have many members who work and live in this part of Queens, and our new branch will finally allow us to provide them with convenient and excellent service. We look forward to continuing and growing our relationship with the community and our members here.”

The Springfield Gardens branch is a full-service branch, offering teller service, staff to help members with a wide range of financial transactions and advice, 24/7 ATMs, and the credit union’s first e-banking center. The branch is open Monday to Wednesday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

 

Russell Simmons joins march to reclaim Queens streets for peace


| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Billy Rennison

Residents and leaders in southeast Queens — joined by a famous native son — marched recently to return peace to their increasingly violence-filled streets.

The Sunday, August 19 rally, organized by The Peacekeepers Global Initiative, drew hundreds of locals bothered by the outbreak of shootings the area has witnessed — as well as parents who have buried children due to the violence.

“We need to make sure that we make our community a safe and decent place to live,” said Dennis Muhammed, founder of The Peacekeepers.

Murders are up 29 percent in Queens South this year, according to CompStat.

Joining the march was Queens native Russell Simmons, who said he was inspired by the neighborhood’s turnout.

“We have to give some sort of hope to the people in the community,” the Def Jam co-founder said. “Young kids in the hood don’t understand that there’s a lot of potential in them and when they see that we care, it matters.”

Parents of children lost to guns marched hand-in-hand with Simmons before speaking to the crowd in the Baisley Park Houses.

“My son was a good kid, he played ball, didn’t bother anybody, he was a momma’s boy. He turned 19 February 2; they murdered him March 2,” Shanta Merritt, mother of Darryl Adams, who was killed in Jamaica, said between tears. “I’m going to do anything and everything that I can to be a voice for my son. I don’t want this to happen to anyone else.”

As the march moved from Sutphin Boulevard and 111th Avenue to the Baisley Houses, residents came out, with some joining the march and the chants to reclaim the streets for peace.

“It’s us that’s going to protect our community, it’s us that’s going to change what’s happening in our communities, it’s only us working together that can make a difference in what going on in our communities,” said Erica Ford, founder of LIFE Camp, a violence prevention advocacy group.

The community has been calling for something to be done that will help end the violence, but leaders agreed the rally needed to be only the beginning of the change.

“We do have a responsibility and that responsibility is to make sure this is not just an event, a one-time affair,” said Congressmember Gregory Meeks. “We need to be back out here when there’s no cameras, when there’s no attention.”

Officials unveil plan to curb gun violence


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Terence Cullen

Community outreach and communication highlighted a pledge from officials and an announcement of a nine-point plan to put a ceasefire to gun violence in southeast Queens.

The plan, revealed by District Attorney Richard A. Brown and a number of elected officials on Friday, August 17, came on the eve of a buy back program in Jamaica to curb violence in the region.

“The combination of easy access to guns, violence fueled by disputes between rival gangs and competing criminal enterprises vying for turf, decreases in police resources in high crime neighborhoods and community reluctance to cooperate with law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes has contributed to a sudden, deadly increase in gun violence in recent weeks – especially in southeast Queens,” Brown said.

The points look to: send the message that possession of and carrying guns and insinuating violence is unacceptable in the area; inform residents that guns can be turned in at any precinct for $100 cash at any time; a campaign to encourage people to report illegal weapons, and strengthen “If You See Something, Say Something”; back legislation to limit criminals and the mentally ill access to assault weapons and handguns; enforce existing gun laws; better dialogue between police and residents; up police resources in areas where violence has increased; make efforts to shutter illegal businesses and limit night hours of establishments where crime is prominent; and give more information to residents about existing programs.

“We’re not going to be idling and sitting back while people are dying,” said Congressmember Gregory Meeks.

Homicides were up this year nearly 29 percent in Queens South from 2011, according to data provided by the DA’s office; shooting incidents in the area were up more than 22 percent, with 121 this year.

After school and violence prevention programs for young people are also crucial to this plan, several officials said.

Assemblymember Vivian Cook said funding for programs needed to be restored to schools to help deter students from being out on the street or getting involved in gangs.

“Let’s also talk about programs and things for these young people to help them stay off the street,” Cook said. “The programs have been cut in the schools. I think it’s important that these programs come back into the schools so that these children can be involved in some of those things.”

The push for “If You See Something, Say Something,” is to encourage residents to report any violence or suspicious activity — anonymously.

Meeks, formerly an assistant DA, said the reluctance, or fear, by residents to report incidents or provide witnesses hindered cleaning up crime in the area.

“I know firsthand as a former DA that without a witness you don’t have a case,” Meeks said. “The police can do all the work that they want but if you don’t have someone to step up, then you don’t have a case.”

 

Congressmember Meeks refutes reports of financial wrongdoing


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

The Courier/photo by Liam La Guerre

A local politician refuted published reports of financial wrongdoing concerning a nonprofit organization to whom he allocated millions in taxpayer money.

Congressmember Gregory Meeks denied that federal authorities are investigating him for any issues with federal funds he secured for the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation (GJDC).

Instead, he blasted a local newspaper and national group for targeting Democrats.

“I’ve never been investigated in regards to this investigation,” Meeks said in an appearance on Good Day NY. “I don’t know why the [New York] Post headline says ‘Feds question Meeks.’ I’ve never been questioned.”

Meeks said The New York Post and the National Legal Policy Center (NLPC), a group dedicated to promoting ethics, are actually in “cahoots” and come up with “ridiculous stories” in an attempt to take down Democrats.

“They are going after President [Barack] Obama,” Meeks explained.

Recently, the NLPC has reported on corruption stories involving various Democratic leaders, but the group said it reports objectively.

“We’re not out to get anybody, we’re a non partisan organization,” Carl Horowitz, a project manager of NLPC, said. “We don’t play party favorites.”

Horowitz added, “We don’t particularly care what the race or the party system is. We do believe the smaller the government is the less opportunity for corruption.”

The reported allegations of Meeks stem from a New York Post exclusive article, which said the U.S. Attorney’s Office issued a subpoena to the GJDC.

A representative of the organization confirmed the subpoena was received about six months ago and the GJDC complied with the federal office’s requests. However, the group said they were not the target of the subpoena and the federal office did not inform them who was.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office did not identify the target of the investigation to the GJDC,” said spokesperson Fred Winters. “Greater Jamaica cooperated fully at that time. It was for documentation. They [the GJDC] turned over everything that the U.S. Attorney is looking for.”

Robert Nardoza of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Eastern District refused to comment on the target of the subpoena.

Meeks has worked closely with the GJDC on several projects to develop areas in Jamaica. He has helped secure some of their grants.

One of these projects includes $9.2 million to transform an LIRR underpass from a dark corridor to a lit shopping arcade.

The project was completed about a month ago and tenants have yet to move into the shops because of minor problems with the buildings, which contractors have to finish first.

“You can’t move people into a site which they are still working on,” Winters said. “Greater Jamaica has made arrangements with two cultural intuitional groups [BroLab and chashama] to occupy it when it’s available.”

Meeks helped the GJDC get $21 million in tax credits to complete housing, retail shops and a hotel near the Jamaica LIRR area, according to the Post article.

The Post’s piece also reported that Greater Jamaica failed to develop a building it purchased from the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey for $2.7 million since 2004, and has until August 20 to locate a developer or the Port Authority would retake the building.

“The Port Authority has given the GJDC more time to develop a site that been troublesome for some time now,” Winters confirmed. “The economy and finances for funding new development have been very difficult. We just put out a new request for proposals.”

Meeks has had a history with the Post, which published reports of his alleged corruption concerning a charity to help Hurricane Katrina victims in 2010, and an unreported $40,000 he borrowed from a friend in 2007.

But Meeks said he has been cleared of charges in those investigations.

“There have been no reports by the city and Port Authority about missing money,” Meeks said. “We all are focused on trying to make sure that Greater Jamaica does what it’s been doing and that is creating opportunities and development, especially commercial development, for the people.”

Meeks takes 5th Congressional District primary


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Billy Rennison

It may be the best birthday present that Simone-Marie Meeks could receive.

Her husband, incumbent Congressmember Gregory Meeks, once again captured the support of the Democratic Party in the June 26 primary, getting the nod over three competitors. “You don’t do this without family and she made sure not to go away and do something else for her birthday,” Meeks said. “Because of the primary she said ‘no I’m going to stay close to home so that you could do what you have to do.’ Happy birthday to her big time.”

Nearly two hours after voting ceased Meeks appeared at his rally at the Guy R. Brewer United Democratic Club in St. Albans and declared victory, thanking his supporters.

“I am honored to once again win the nomination as the Democratic nominee for the new 5th Congressional District,” Meeks said to the crowd.

Meeks won with 66 percent (7,761 votes) over former City Councilmember Allan Jennings (13 percent, 1,532), Michael Scala (12 percent, 1,369) and Joseph Marthone (10 percent, 1,181).

The new district encompasses most of southeast Queens, including the Rockaways, and parts of Nassau County.

Meeks, who held the 6th Congressional District seat before redistricting, explained that since February, he campaigned directly in his communities and met with residents in their homes, even in Nassau, to earn their support.

“The way I like to meet with people is in small coffee klatches,” Meeks said. “So they get a chance to know me and I get a chance to know them. We will continue to set that up, to meet with leaders and anyone who would invite me to their homes.”

Meeks stayed away from talking about his opponents in the primary, instead focusing on his main goal of moving forward in assisting President Barack Obama in Washington D.C., which hit the right chord with his followers.

“We’ve got to make sure the president’s back,” Meeks said about the upcoming national election, adding, “you talk about health care, that’s important. Also we’ve got to create jobs, so for us we want to have the president’s infrastructure bill passed.”

Even before Meeks voted at about 9:45 a.m. at P.S. 118 with his wife again at his side, he said that he felt very confident about winning and looked forward to working in the new neighborhoods of the transformed 5th District.

“I think it’s an exciting district,” he said earlier. “It’s a district that looks like America when you think of it.”

But before he can officially take the seat in congress Meeks will have to face off once more against Jennings, who ran in both parties and is running unopposed as a Republican.

However, the congressmember maintained his confidence.

“Allan who?” Meeks said with a chuckle.