Tag Archives: I. Daneek Miller

Springfield Gardens community rallies to keep local bank open

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of state Senator Leroy Comrie

Updated Sept. 29, 9:50 a.m.


Springfield Gardens residents rallied with state Senator Leroy Comrie and other advocates Friday outside a Chase Bank slated to close, calling for the financial giant to reverse its decision.

Comrie was joined by Councilman I. Daneek Miller, Democratic Assembly nominee Alicia Hyndman, NAACP Jamaica branch president Leroy Gadsden, and a large number of residents and community members fighting to keep the branch located at 134-40 Springfield Blvd. open.

The Chase Bank branch is centrally located in the outdoor Pathmark Shopping Center at the intersection of Springfield and Merrick boulevards. It is adjacent to a walk-in medical clinic, a Pathmark supermarket and the community’s Municipal Credit Union (MCU).

During Friday’s rally, Comrie called upon Chase to reverse its decision given the groundswell of community support as well as the need for the financial institution.

“As not only the representative of this community but a loyal customer of Chase Bank, I see the vital function it plays every day in keeping commerce flowing,” Comrie said in a statement. “Evidence points to the great financial potential of this community. Instead of pulling out, Chase should recognize its very real possibility to be the fiscal and commercial hub of southeast Queens.”

Comrie’s fellow civic and community leaders voiced similar concerns during the rally regarding the effects the bank’s closure may have on the neighborhood.

“A closure of this Chase branch is a net negative for both our community and the bank,” Miller said. “In a community like ours, comprised of homeowners, middle to upper income families, and a growing commercial district in downtown Jamaica, it’s puzzling from a business perspective that Chase would want to reduce their presence in southeast Queens. It is my hope that the bank will realize this branch’s significance to local residents, as well as our community’s contribution to the institution, and that the business will remain open.”

Both Hyndman and Gadsden echoed the need for responsible banking and financial institutions like Chase Bank in underserved communities.

“Chase not long ago made a promise to this state to work with the feedback communities provide to improve business relations and help local economies,” Hyndman said. “This is the exact antithesis of that. Before Chase closes this branch, they need to seriously reconsider the community’s need and their own responsibility to act in good faith to minority communities.”

“One of the main things that stabilize the community are their banks,” Gadsen added. “If Chase bank wants our business across America and all the benefits that come with being federally recognized, they should be sharing services with the minority community. Not doing so is a form of economic discrimination. We expect the same type of service in the black community as everywhere else.”

The impending closing of the Chase Bank branch is not the only change coming to this community hub. The neighboring Pathmark supermarket will soon be replaced by a Stop and Shop super store after Pathmark’s parent company, Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company (A&P), filed for bankruptcy in July.

“We hope that Chase will not abandon this community and remain a fixture for all who rely on it,” Comrie concluded.

Chase has three other branches located within a mile of the Springfield Gardens branch. A Chase representative declined to comment to The Courier on the matter.


Participatory budgeting winners announced for District 27

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning


Councilman I. Daneek Miller announced on Wednesday the winners of participatory budgeting in his district covering parts of Jamaica, St. Albans, Cambria Heights, Hollis, Queens Village and Addisleigh Park.

The ballot included 23 projects, which were proposed, selected and designed by community members in public meetings starting in July of last year.

The top five proposals will receive $1 million in funding between them.

At 1,029 votes, the top vote-getter was a plan to enhance the Roy Wilkins Park outdoor performance space for programming such as readings or small concerts. It is expected to cost $450,000.

The Jamaica Performing Arts Center (JPAC), the performing arts leg of the Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning (JCAL) will receive $120,000 for equipment purchases and repairs to upgrade the sound and lighting systems in the 400-seat theater.

Cathy Hung, executive director of JCAL, said she was ecstatic when she heard the news.

“Thank you to a team of artists and students who advocated on JCAL’s behalf and the community members who voted for us,” Hung said. “With this grant, we will be able to bring JPAC to the highest artistic quality that is possible and to present the highest quality programs, whether it’s theater, dance, music or multi-media that we have been planning for the community.”

Residents in the district also voted to provide $400,000 for road resurfacing projects to take place along major thoroughfares in the confines of Community Boards 12 and 13 to protect vehicles and pedestrians.

I.S. 59 in Jamaica received 607 votes and $60,000 to purchase 10 smart boards and an overhead projector.

The last proposal to be funded, with 555 votes, was a technology upgrade to York Early College Academy in Jamaica. The school will receive $94,000 to purchase 13 smart boards with an overhead projector and laptop cart.

Miller said the relationships forged from this 10-month process are greatly valued in the district.

“This has been a tool to engage, empower, and organize our residents,” Miller said. “Regardless of who the final awardees are it is clear that our community has won. We’ve seen people come together — youths and senior and people from all different walks of life — to improve our neighborhoods and collaborate on meaningful projects.”


As temperatures stay frigid, Queens councilman hosts kids coat drive

| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Salvatore Licata

As New Yorkers experience subzero temperatures this winter, one councilman decided to help keep some of Queens’ most vulnerable warm.

“Being able to give to our young people is great,” said Councilman I. Daneek Miller. “They’re what make our community great. This is a small part of what we try to do for the community but it is necessary that we do it.”

Miller hosted an event in partnership with the Parks Department and the Uniformed Fire Officers Association, the organization that supplied brand-new coats for children in his district. He held the event on Wednesday at the Detective Keith L. Williams Field House in Jamaica, which was happily made available by Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski, for a special reason.

“We had a toy drive here in December and I noticed so many of our young people didn’t have the proper attire on to keep them warm,” Miller said. “So, when the fire department reached out to me and asked if I knew of people in need, I couldn’t think of a better place to go.”


This is the first year that the UFOA Local 854 is doing the coat drive and coined the name “Operation Warm, more than a coat.”

This was the fourth place they donated coats in the city, all of which are brand-new, brightly colored and warm, Lewandowski said. The association bought over 50 coats to the drive in hopes of keeping children warm until the winter chill blows over.

“We’re a labor organization always looking to help out,” said Derek Harken, a member of the UFOA. “All the coats are made in America, we purchase them and then go to communities where we can help the people out with them.”

Lewandowski commended the organization for their work, especially for helping out those children that may be experiencing some economic hardship.

“These are incredibly good students that participated in this event,” she said. “These coats are not only colorful but extremely warm and the children will benefit from this wonderful operation.”


Pols put a stop to dangerous traffic at Cambria Heights intersection

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Drivers passing through an accident-prone intersection can now do so more safely thanks to new streetlights.

In Cambria Heights, the intersection of Francis Lewis Boulevard and 121st Avenue has been a notorious site for car crashes. Local officials responded and worked to get three streetlights put up along the busy roadway.

Councilmembers Donovan Richards and I. Daneek Miller, whose districts meet at the intersection, advocated for the safety measure in the residential neighborhood.

“For a very long time, this intersection has been dangerous to not only my district but Daneek’s district,” Richards said. “Today, you don’t see cars crisscrossing each other.”

Miller’s predecessor, Deputy Borough President Leroy Comrie, started work on the traffic installment during his time as a councilmember. Miller took over the project after his term began this month.

“I live and grew up on this street,” Miller said. “We’ve been watching it grow. We have a real increase in traffic that needs to be addressed.”

In recent years, Cambria Heights has experienced several traffic fatalities. A 27-year-old man lost his life in March 2013 after losing control of his vehicle while on icy Francis Lewis Boulevard, and Paulina Rodriguez, 24, died in a three-car accident after she ran a stop sign on 115th Avenue and 227th Street.


City Council District 27 candidate I. Daneek Miller wants to transport the community

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Corey Bearak

I. Daneek Miller is taking a longstanding career in the transportation union and applying it to create strategies and tactics he hopes to use if elected to the 27th District of the City Council.

“We have a lot of uphill battles,” he said. “When you see how working families have been treated over the last decade, it’s imperative that we have a voice at City Hall.”

“As we attempt to move forward as the working community of New York City, we continue to hit walls because we’re not setting policy and writing laws,” he said.

Miller, a community and labor activist, has lived in the district for 35 years. Last summer, he was approached by Councilmember Leroy Comrie about running for the City Council, and after some thought, Miller obliged.

He is currently the president of the Amalgamated Transportation Union (ATU) Local 1056. In his position and previous ones, Miller progressively recognized the value in building coalitions and “championing causes outside of your own” to work towards a long-term, common goal.

“In holding office, you have to use sound judgment, inspire others, lead by example and engage people,” he said.
Miller also served as the political director of the union for five years where he worked on various pieces of legislation including workers’ rights, heath safety, pension reform and veterans’ rights.

“We’ve been successful [in the union] and hopefully that motto can translate to the community at large,” he said. “We understand budgeting, funding and the flow of government.”

As a city councilmember, Miller hopes to create a more efficient, reliable transportation system throughout the district.

This, in turn, could attract outer-borough people to come and work — a workforce that could be better maintained and ultimately boost the economy, he said. “You can’t forget about long-term objectives for short-term satisfaction,” he said.

He also hopes to implement participatory budgeting, living wages to sustain the community, youth advocacy, attract business residency, quality child care, affordable health care and more, all of which he said he has experience in handling.

“We have all the makings, we just have to do what I do best, which is build collaborations and coalitions that will attract the right resources into the district,” he said. “It’s about being the voice for people who don’t have a voice.”