Tag Archives: hurricane sandy

Family of Flushing Sandy victim officially files suit against city


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan and courtesy of Facebook

The family of the Flushing man tragically killed by a felled tree during Sandy has officially filed a lawsuit against the city, legal sources said.

“The city has completely ignored the situation with their trees in Queens,” said the family’s attorney, Rosemarie Arnold.

Arnold filed a notice of claim in January on behalf of Tony Laino, 29, who is considered the storm’s first New York City victim.

He was pinned under a tree that ripped through his second-floor bedroom on October 29, police said.

“Around the corner from where this happened, someone else was killed last week,” said Arnold, referring to the pregnant woman recently killed by a tree in Kissena Park.

The attorney said the Lainos fought in vain for at least a decade to get the towering threat in front of their house removed.

She told The Courier the city tree was “overgrown, rotten and improperly pruned” and fell when it was confronted by predicted 80 miles per hour hurricane winds.

The victim’s parents, Carol and Robert Laino, and one of his two brothers, Nicholas Laino, are now suing for emotional, mental distress and monetary damages, including funeral and burial expenses, according to the claim.

“Let’s hope this lawsuit saves at least one other mother from the torment that Carol Laino is experiencing because of the unnecessary loss of her child,” Arnold said.

The amount the family plans to sue for is not yet determined, according to their lawyer.

The city’s Law Department said it was “awaiting a formal copy of the lawsuit and will review it upon receipt.”

“We recognize that the incident involves a loss of life, which is tragic,” said department spokesperson Elizabeth Thomas.

 

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LIC Bar gives back to The Who’s favorite charity


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of TheWho.com

They’re back for an encore.

A Sandy-struck venue that received a new sound system from music icons The Who is returning the favor by hosting a fundraiser to benefit one of the band’s favorite charities, Teen Cancer America.

LIC Bar, at 45-58 Vernon Boulevard, was inundated by seven feet of water during the superstorm, wiping out its entire cache of electronic equipment. The Who heard about the venue’s plight when LIC Bar patron Robert Basch alerted members of the band’s record label about the damage when the revered British group stopped in Brooklyn during their “Quadrophenia” tour in November.

The band donated gear from Shure Microphones and Peavey Electronics, the same state-of-the-art equipment The Who uses at their shows, to get the venue up and running again.

With its regular line-up back on track, LIC Bar wanted to show their appreciation.

“We decided to do this event in order to thank The Who for what they did for LIC Bar,” said the venue’s talent booker Gustavo Rodriguez. “We came up with the idea of throwing a fundraiser for their charity as a way to give back.”

On Saturday, February 23, LIC Bar will host a concert to benefit Teen Cancer America, an organization founded by the band that works to improve the lives of adolescents and young adults with cancer. Who’s Next, a well-known tribute band, will perform songs from the international rock group’s catalog. Godfrey Townshend, a guitarist who played with The Who’s late bassist, John Entwistle, will also perform an acoustic set.

Bill Canell, Who’s Next’s guitarist and a close friend of The Who’s guitarist Pete Townshend, said the band is ecstatic about the fundraiser.

“They love it,” said Canell. “It’s all good and they’re extremely happy. Anything that gives back to a charity, they’re grateful that we’re doing it.”

Tickets for the event are $20 with all proceeds going directly to Teen Cancer America.

Additional funds will be raised through a raffle, including a valuable Gibson SG guitar, signed by Pete Townshend and several items signed by The Who’s frontman Roger Daltrey.

Rodriguez said he hopes the event will raise between $3,000 and $5,000 for Teen Cancer America.

Photo courtesy of Bill Canell

 

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Agencies give Sandy testimony before City Council


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Nearly three months after the storm devastated the tri-state area, and with residents still trying to recover, the City Council has begun investigating how various agencies handled Sandy.

Testimony has been given by representatives of the Office of Emergency Management (OEM), the New York City Housing Authority, Con Edison and the Long Island Power Authority, among other agencies.

Councilmember Eric Ulrich, when addressing OEM, inquired why the West Hamilton Beach Volunteer Fire Department had been denied a request for a rescue boat, despite the anticipated flooding in the hamlet. Ulrich also asked why OEM had not looked at the Breezy Point Cooperative’s evacuation plan, or had better communication with the several volunteer fire departments of southern Queens.

OEM Commissioner Joseph Bruno said commissioners had been on the ground working with volunteer fire departments on plans during the lead up to the storm and had always maintained communications between the volunteers and the FDNY. It was not the office’s policy to approve of other entities’ evacuation plans, he said, but OEM could give input for both cooperatives and volunteer fire departments in the future, he said.

Ulrich suggested to Bruno that once recovery is completely over, and some stability is back in the area, OEM officials begin to work with these waterside communities to better prepare for future storms.

“I think in the next year it might be a good time, when everything settles and the rebuilding starts and life gets somewhat back to normal, that OEM try to engage these communities and these fire departments.”

 

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Op-Ed: Helping businesses recover


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

BY ASSEMBLYMEMBER WILLIAM SCARBOROUGH

New York has experienced a number of severe storms in recent years, and the resulting damage has been devastating to residents and to businesses. Damage from the two storms is said to exceed $40 billion to New Yorkers, and it is evident that we can now expect more severe weather events in the future. The damage to residences is tragic, but equally devastating is the damage to businesses, especially small businesses.

Small business is the key to many local economies as well as the engine that drive the overall economic recovery of our region. Many small businesses have been shut down due to storm damage in the Rockaways, Staten Island and elsewhere, or are severely restricted in their ability to do business. History shows that if these businesses cannot recover within 6 to 12 months they often do not reopen, or close theirs doors if they cannot return to economic viability. There is a huge loss to the community in terms of economic activity and the loss of jobs.

As Chair of the Assembly Committee on Small Business, I am introducing legislation to create a Severe Weather Business Recovery Tax Credit in New York State. A similar program has been hugely successful in Joplin, Missouri and has greatly aided that city in returning to economic viability after an F5 tornado destroyed Joplin in May, 2011. New Yorkers have been extraordinarily generous with their time and resources during times of crisis, but I hear repeatedly from businesses which have not gotten the resources they need, or have not gotten them in a timely manner. The Business Recovery Tax Credit would provide for a 50% credit on donations of $1,000 or more and donations would go directly to assisting businesses to recover from the effects of the storm. The fund would be overseen by the Empire State Development Corporation, and be administered locally through the Chamber of Commerce.  Donations made through calendar year 2013 would be eligible for the credit.

Local communities need their businesses back, and thriving. Their employees need their jobs back, our regional economy needs these businesses to do well for our economic recovery. A big part of rebuilding these communities involves rebuilding these businesses. When people have their jobs or can find a new one in their community, they are more likely to stay in that community. Hope is restored when people have jobs, and the goods and services that businesses provide. Restoring these businesses will help to restore the community, and residents, not-for-profits and schools all benefit. Even with insurance, bank assistance and federal and local disaster programs, our local businesses need additional assistance. This program will allow those wishing to help out to donate in an organized meaningful manner, while getting something back for their generosity, and helping to rebuild our communities and our economy.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Wednesday: Overcast with ice pellets and snow, then a chance of snow and a chance of rain in the afternoon. High of 41. Winds from the NNE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation 90% . Wednesday night: Overcast in the evening, then partly cloudy. Low of 36. Winds from the West at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 20%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Quintet of the Americas’ Crystal Winter Concert 

Crystal Winter, a concert performed by Quintet of the Americas at the  Catholic Charities Bayside Senior Center, features projected images of crystals, snowflakes, winter scenes and Van Gogh’s painting Starry Night. Songs will include Adam Schoenberg’s Winter Music, Sammy Cahn’s Let it Snow, Quintet of the Americas’ improvisation Starry Night, Silver Bells and more. Audience members will also have the opportunity join the Quintet playing bells, water glasses keys. Concert starts at 12:15 p.m. Admission is free. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

House approves $50.7 B in Sandy aid

Sandy victims are one step closer to receiving the relief money they need. After $9.7 billion in flood insurance funds were signed into law earlier this month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an additional $50.7 billion in aid. Read more: Queens Courier

NY passes toughest gun laws in country

Less than a week after Governor Andrew Cuomo promised to make New York the leader in gun safety, the State Legislature voted in favor of the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement, or NY SAFE Act, that would effectively keep weapons away from the mentally ill and crack down on illegal guns. Read more: Queens Courier

Elderly Queens man beaten on J train

An elderly Queens man says he was beaten while riding the subway in Brooklyn last month and police are now looking for the suspect, who was captured on newly-released surveillance video. Read more: NBC New York

Parents scramble on eve Of NYC’s first school bus strike in 33 years

New York City school bus drivers were just hours from walking off the job Tuesday night, and thousands of parents were scrambling to find alternate transportation. Read more: CBS New York

Base of spire installed on roof of 1 WTC

Workers at the rising 1 World Trade Center on Tuesday installed the first piece of the spire that will make the 104-floor skyscraper the tallest in the Western Hemisphere. Read more: ABC New York

One man dies, one hurt minutes apart at New York subway station

One New York man was killed and another seriously injured in separate incidents just minutes apart at a Manhattan station during Tuesday’s rush-hour, authorities said. Read more: Reuters 

Quinn presents vision for improving New York City schools

Christine C. Quinn, the New York City Council speaker and a presumptive candidate for mayor, laid out in a speech on Tuesday a series of proposals for improving the city’s schools, which included replacing textbooks with computer tablets, creating online resources for parents and extending the school day for many students. Read more: New York Times

Obama to unveil gun violence measures Wednesday

President Barack Obama’s broad effort to reduce gun violence will include proposed bans on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines as well as more than a dozen executive orders aimed at circumventing congressional opposition to stricter gun control. Read more: AP

House approves $50.7B in Sandy aid


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

Sandy victims are one step closer to receiving the relief money they need.

After $9.7 billion in flood insurance funds were signed into law earlier this month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an additional $50.7 billion in aid.

In a 327-91 vote Tuesday afternoon, January 15, the House approved $17 billion in emergency funding that will go towards addressing immediate needs for victims and communities affected by Sandy.

A few hours later, a final bill that included an additional $33.7 billion for both immediate and anticipated needs was adopted in a 241-180 vote.

“We are grateful to those members of Congress who today pulled together in a unified, bipartisan coalition to assist millions of their fellow Americans in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut at their greatest time of need. The tradition of Congress being there and providing support for Americans during times of crisis, no matter where they live across this great country, lives on in today’s vote in the House of Representatives. We anticipate smooth passage when this package moves back to the Senate for final approval and for this long-awaited relief to finally make its way to our residents,” said Governors Andrew Cuomo, Chris Christie and Dannel Malloy in a joint statement.

“It’s been two-and-a-half months since Sandy hammered our region, and thousands of New Yorkers continue to suffer from the devastation. Now, they will finally receive the relief that they have desperately needed, said Congressmember Grace Meng. “The battle we had to fight to secure this aid was outrageous. But I’m pleased that the money will finally start to head our way.”

Throughout the day’s legislative session, House members spoke adamantly about the bill. Some stressed the relief money’s urgency, while others objected to unrelated Sandy spending.
In the House, the majority of those opposed to the relief aid were Republicans. The Democratically controlled Senate is expected to say yes to the money next week.

In December, the Senate initially approved the full $60.4 billion Sandy aid package in one lump sum, but the House adjourned before it could follow suit.

After several politicians publicly criticized Speaker John Boehner for the early adjournment, he scheduled a vote on the legislation.

But the $60.4 billion was broken up into several votes, starting with Congress’ January 4 approval of the $9.7 billion.

That part of the legislation temporarily increases the borrowing authority of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for carrying out the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

The $50 billion passed Tuesday includes money for FEMA disaster relief, transit and infrastructure repairs, and other recovery needs.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Monday: Overcast with a chance of rain. Fog early. High of 63. Winds from the West at 10 to 15 mph shifting to the NNW in the afternoon. Chance of rain 30%. Monday Night: Overcast with a chance of rain. Low of 36. Winds from the NNW at 5 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 30%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Double Life exhibition

SculptureCenter in Long Island City is pleased to present the exhibition Double Life, which brings together a group of artists that share a performance-based approach to sculpture. Common strategies include inhabiting the physical site of exhibition, leaving indexical marks on images of their own making, and re-contextualizing or re-animating various objects, images and readymades. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Flu shot supply dwindling as New York faces public health emergency

With the flu epidemic hitting the Tri-State Area hard, many pharmacies have begun to run out of flu shot supplies. Read more: CBS New York

Bus strike threat looms over NYC schools

A continuing dispute over job protections for New York City school bus drivers means the threat of a strike is still looming, potentially disrupting transportation for about 152,000 students as soon as this week. Read more: NBC New York

Flushing apartment building fire sends one person to hospital

According to the FDNY, the fire started in a bathroom ceiling fan on the top floor of a seven-story building at 42-02 Kissena Boulevard shortly after 10 p.m. Read more: NY1

Weekend bird hits force 2 jets to return to JFK

Authorities say bird strikes forced two planes to return to Kennedy Airport shortly after takeoff over the weekend. Read more: Fox New York

Rare large parcel of property near Citi Field hits the market

Property near Citi Field is hotter than ever right now with proposals for a state-of-the-art new mall and a $300 million Major League Soccer stadium to be constructed nearby. Read more: New York Daily News

Life after Sandy: Businesses still waiting for relief in the Rockaways

Despite all the fund raising and promises of recovery, when it comes to getting small businesses in Queens up and running after Sandy, the federal government has approved 37 loans for the entire borough, while the city has given out only 28. In the Rockaways, where much of the area was without heat and power for weeks after the storm, it’s given 9 loans. Read more: WYNC

‘Argo” scores sweet Golden Globe victory with two top awards

Iran hostage drama “Argo” scored a sweet double victory at the Golden Globe awards on Sunday, winning best movie drama – the night’s top prize – and best director for Ben Affleck on a night that left front-runner “Lincoln” with just one trophy. Read more: Reuters

 

 

Law keeps co-op owners from receiving federal storm recovery grants


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A glitch in the law is keeping co-op owners from receiving federal storm recovery grants, officials said.

According to Congressmember Steve Israel, co-ops are shouldering the costs of repair for Sandy-inflicted damages because they are categorized as “business associations,” making them ineligible for federal grants — only loans.

The Stafford Act, which governs how the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) responds to major disasters, does not include the word “co-op” in the law, Israel said. But there is no statute that purposefully bans co-op owners from being eligible for grants, a privilege given to homeowners.

“FEMA is taking an overzealous interpretation to this,” said Israel. “It discriminates against co-op owners. It’s one thing to be devastated by a hurricane. It’s another to be devastated by a loophole.”

Cryder Point Co-ops suffered $1 million in damage that left their waterfront community’s pier in shambles, said Phil Resnick, vice president of the co-op’s board of directors.

More than half of the total buildings in Glen Oaks Village endured “moderate to severe shingle loss,” leading to $250,000 in infrastructural damages, said Bob Friedrich, the co-op’s president. The unbudgeted costs also include the removal of downed trees.

“Housing co-ops are not business associations. We do not generate income based on corporate or private profit,” said Warren Schreiber, president of the Bay Terrace Community Alliance. “Many middle-class shareholders who are already experiencing financial difficulties will not be able to absorb the additional charges.”

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Tree complaints top 311 calls


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

File photo

Fallen limbs and downed branches, among other issues, still top the list of complaints to 311 within Community Board 10. Since the storm struck on October 29 through the end of 2012, there were 1,425 calls to the city about trees. In December alone, nearly 200 calls were put in from residents in the board’s zone about tree problems.

Sandy may have downed many trees in Ozone Park and Howard Beach the night of the storm, but wind-damaged branches could still be a problem, said board chair Elizabeth Braton.

“After a storm, when you have a lot of damage, you have other trees that were damaged but the branches didn’t fall — but they go down sometime later,” she said.

While city agencies still deal with recovery more than two months later, Braton said the board will meet during 2013 about plans for another Sandy-caliber storm. This includes what sorts of trees will be planted that can withstand flooding and winds.

“That will come up as we meet with the Parks Department over the course of the year,” Braton said. “Things are going to be much better as we learn from [Sandy]. But right now we’re still in the immediate mode.”

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Friday: Overcast with a chance of rain in the afternoon. High of 48. Winds from the SE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 40%. Friday night: Overcast with rain, then a chance of rain after midnight. Fog overnight. Low of 43. Winds from the SSE at 5 to 10 mph shifting to the East after midnight. Chance of rain 80%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Homesick Hound Dogs

The Queens Kickshaw in Astoria presents the Homesick Hound Dogs — an altcountry/Americana band that couldn’t have happened anywhere besides New York City. With high-energy original songs about love, whiskey and other things that make life awkward and wonderful, the group strives to make the listener feel at home no matter how far home is, most importantly they will make you feel at home in your dancing shoes. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Donations for Sandy victims may not be going entirely to victims and recovery, says watchdog

Victims of Superstorm Sandy may not be receiving all the donations that have poured in for them, according to a disaster aid watchdog group. Read more: New York Daily News

Obama names Queens native Jack Lew as treasury secretary

Queens is coming to the cabinet. President Obama officially nominated his chief of staff, Queens native Jacob “Jack” Lew, for secretary of the treasury Thursday. Read more: Queens Courier

Mechanical error may have been cause of ferry crash

The day after a ferry ride left dozens of passengers in stretchers, the National Transportation Safety Board is slowly finding answers. Read more: NY1

New York City examining DNA errors in rape cases

The New York City medical examiner is reviewing hundreds of rape cases for DNA evidence errors. ABC New York

New York in midst of flu epidemic as emergency room and drug store visits rise

A ferocious flu “epidemic” has New Yorkers rushing to doctors, hospitals and drug stores — with emergency-room visits up 150 percent over last year, city health officials said yesterday. Read more: New York Post

FDA requires lower doses for sleep medications

The Food and Drug Administration is requiring makers of Ambien and similar sleeping pills to lower the dosage of their drugs, based on studies suggesting patients face a higher risk of injury due to morning drowsiness. Read more: ABC News

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Thursday: Partly cloudy. High of 48. Winds from the NW at 10 to 15 mph. Thursday night: Clear in the evening, then partly cloudy. Low of 36. Winds less than 5 mph. Chance of rain 20%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Urinetown: The Musical

Winner of three Tony awards and one of the most uproariously funny musicals in recent years, Urinetown is a hilarious tale of greed, corruption, love and revolution in a time when water is worth its weight in gold. In a Gotham-like city, a terrible water shortage, caused by a 20-year drought, has led to a government-enforced ban on private toilets. Performances start Thursday, January 10 and continue through Saturday, January 26 at The Secret Theatre in Long Island City. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Crane collapses in Long Island City, injuring seven

Seven workers suffered minor injuries when a crane collapsed at a Long Island City building site. Read more: Queens Courier

Cuomo takes aim at guns, Sandy relief during State of the State address

Governor Andrew Cuomo has vowed New York will become the nation’s leader in gun safety laws in wake of recent shootings. Read more: Queens Courier

Seastreak Wall Street Ferry saw other problems before crash

The Seastreak Wall Street ferry that crashed in Lower Manhattan Wednesday has had a few minor incidents in recent years. Read more: CBS New York

Cheating teacher the answer man: probe

A Queens elementary- school teacher brazenly helped fourth-graders cheat on the state’s high-stakes English exams, even though there was a second proctor in the room, investigators found. Read more: New York Post

Breezy Point couple surprised with newly renovated home after it was destroyed by Sandy

An octogenarian Queens couple whose house was ravaged by Superstorm Sandy received a surprise gift on Wednesday — a brand new home. Read more: New York Daily News

Report: Queens Native Will Likely Head Up Treasury Dept.

President Barack Obama is reportedly set to tap a native New Yorker to serve as the new head of the United States Treasury Department. Read more: NY1

NYC firm hit hard on 9/11 gives $10M in Sandy aid

The New York City brokerage firm that lost 658 employees in the Sept. 11 terror attacks announced that it will “adopt” 19 schools in communities hit hard by Superstorm Sandy and will give each family in those schools $1,000 to spend as they see fit. Read more: AP

Cuomo takes aim at guns, Sandy relief during State of the State address


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Governor Cuomo's Flickr

Governor Andrew Cuomo has vowed New York will become the nation’s leader in gun safety laws in wake of recent shootings.

At his annual State of the State address on January 9, Cuomo put forth a seven-point agenda that would lead to some of the tightest gun regulations in the country – particularly aimed at assault weapons and multi-round ammunition clips.

“I know that the issue of gun control is hard,” an energized Cuomo said during his closing remarks. “But we are proposing today common sense measures. It’s simple: no one hunts with an assault rifle. No one needs 10 bullets to kill a deer.”

Cuomo’s seven points are: the toughest assault rifle ban in the country; closing a private sale loophole by requiring background checks; banning high-capacity magazines; harsher penalties for illegal gun use; keeping guns away from the mentally ill; blocking direct Internet sales of ammunition in the state; and creating a state check on all ammunition purchases.

While the governor wants to crack down on high-powered rifles, he clarified any new gun legislation would not harm legal gun owners and would be a balanced plan.

“This is not taking away people’s guns,” Cuomo said. It is “about ending the unnecessary risk of high-capacity assault rifles.”

Relief and moving forward after Sandy dominated a good portion of Cuomo’s hour-and-a-half address.

On delayed federal aid, Cuomo called on Congress to stop “playing politics” and give relief to New York and New Jersey residents who desperately need it. The $9.7 billion initially passed Friday, January 4 for flood insurance was not enough, Cuomo said, and more had to be done.

“My friends, that [$9 billion] is just too little and that is too late,” he said. “This has long been established that in the face of a disaster, the federal government comes in to help.”

Cuomo promised the city as a whole would come back bigger and better, by remaking homes to last and resist future storms, especially in coastal regions. Raising homes in areas such as Rockaway could prevent future flooding like that during Sandy’s surge. The state also plans on buying parcels of land from residents who want to relocate to higher-elevated areas.

This also includes better precautionary measures for tunnels and subways. Though this would be costly for the state, Cuomo said he wants to do it now to prevent the city from shutting down in the way it did after Sandy.

“We can rebuild a better society than we had,” he said.

 

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Governor Cuomo to give State of the State address Wednesday


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Governor Cuomo's Flickr

Two years into his first term as governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo will deliver his annual State of the State address today at 1:30 p.m. from Albany.

In addition to discussing Sandy recovery, Cuomo is expected to propose an assault weapons ban.

In case you miss it, we’ll be posting a recap on QueensCourier.com.

Here are some facts about the State of the State from the governor’s website:

  • The State of the State address allows the governor to lay out his yearly agenda for the legislators and the people of New York.
  • Article XIII section 4 of the state constitution sets the day for the beginning of the legislative term as the first Wednesday after the first Monday in the month of January.
  • The State of the State address was traditionally held in the assembly chamber until Governor Andrew Cuomo moved it to the convention center.
  • Even today, the actual State of the State is a document given by the governor to the legislative leaders and not the speech that accompanies it.
  • The State of the State address used to be known as the Governor’s Annual Message until 1975 when Governor Hugh Carey referred to it as the State of the State.
  • Only three governors, Charles Poletti, John Tayler and Horace White, have never given a State of the State message.
  • Colonial governors gave speeches, but our first governors after winning Independence thought that was too pretentious and so instead delivered a written message to the legislature.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Wednesday: Partly cloudy. High of 48. Winds from the SSW at 5 to 15 mph. Wednesday Night: Clear. Low of 36. Winds from the West at 10 to 15 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Indians in the Caribbean

A photographic exhibition of arts, culture and nation building (1900-1950) at the Rajkumari Cultural Center in Richmond Hill, Indians in the Caribbean shows the life of arts and culture, scholarship and commerce, politics and civics in countries like Guyana, Suriname and Caribbean Islands like Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Rockaway beaches to open Memorial Day weekend: officials
Residents in the Sandy-ravaged Rockaways packed into a community board meeting Tuesday night to discuss the future of their wrecked boardwalk. Read more: NBC New York

Park advocates slam U.S. Tennis Association expansion plan

Park advocates aren’t showing much love to a plan for a $500 million expansion of a premiere tennis center in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. Read more: New York Daily News

Cuomo to press for wider curbs on gun access

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, pushing New York to become the first state to enact major new gun laws in the wake of the massacre in Newtown, Conn., plans on Wednesday to propose one of the country’s most restrictive bans on assault weapons. Read more: New York Times 

Quinn brushes off report that Bloomberg is eyeing other mayoral candidates

For some time now, it was unquestioned that New York City Council Speaker and mayoral hopeful Christine Quinn would have the backing of Mayor Michael Bloomberg. But that’s not a sure thing, according to a report. Read more: CBS New York 

More anti-Muslim ads go up in NYC subways

The group that equated Muslim radicals with savages in advertisements last year has put up another set of provocative ads in dozens of New York City subway stations. Read more: Wall Street Journal 

Brooklyn Nets player questioned in Philly sex assault claim

Philadelphia police are investigating reports of a sexual assault that may have involved a Brooklyn Nets team member. Read more: NY1 

2012 was hottest year on record in U.S., climate agency says

The year 2012 was the warmest on record for the contiguous United States, beating the previous record by a full degree in temperature, a government climate agency said on Tuesday. Read more: Reuters

Family of Sandy’s first victim to sue city


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan/Laino photo courtesy of Facebook

The family of the Flushing man tragically killed by a felled tree during Sandy plans to sue the city after they said they fought in vain for at least a decade to get the towering threat removed, legal sources said.

A notice of claim has been filed on behalf of Tony Laino, 29, who was pinned under a tremendous tree that ripped through his bedroom in the upper left portion of his two-story home at 47-34 166th Street on October 29.

Laino, considered the storm’s first New York City victim, was pronounced dead at approximately 7 p.m., police said.

“Tony Laino was unnecessarily killed by a tree that didn’t belong there,” said the family’s attorney, Rosemarie Arnold. “It shouldn’t have been planted there to begin with. It was overgrown, rotten and improperly pruned.”

Arnold said these fatal factors caused the tree to fall when it was confronted by predicted 80 miles per hour hurricane winds.

“The city knew about everything years before it happened,” she said.

The victim’s parents, Carol and Robert Laino, and one of his two brothers, Nicholas Laino, are gearing up to sue the city for emotional, mental distress and monetary damages, including funeral and burial expenses, according to the notice of claim obtained by The Queens Courier.

New York City and its Parks Department were “grossly negligent, wanton, reckless, purposeful and/or breached their duties,” which led to Laino’s “wrongful and untimely death,” the claim said.

Family and neighbors said the disaster could have been averted if the city listened to their numerous complaints made over a decade about the enormous tree looming over the Lainos’ home.

“I’ve been telling them to take this tree down for 20 years,” said Bobby Laino, Tony’s other brother, who lived apart from his family and who is not listed as a claimant.

According to Arnold, the Lainos’ house deed shows the tree was on city, not private, property.

The Parks Department directed comment to the city’s Law Department, which said officials would evaluate the new claim.

“We recognize that this incident involves a loss of life, which is tragic,” department spokesperson, Elizabeth Thomas, said in a statement.

The amount the family plans to sue for was not yet determined, Arnold said.

Laino was the youngest of three brothers and a worked as a driver for Ace Party & Tent Rental, his friends said.

“[The family is] heartbroken,” Arnold said. “They’re beyond heartbroken.”

 

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