Tag Archives: James Sanders

Pols push for St. John’s Hospital to be reimbursed for Sandy expenses


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the office of Assemblymember Goldfeder

Local pols want to keep the lone Rockaway hospital from flat lining.

Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder and State Sentator James Sanders sponsored a bill to bring $4.3 million to St. John’s Episcopal Hospital to reimburse them for expenses spent during and after Sandy.

“St. John’s is the only healthcare facility available to serve nearly 100,000 families on the Rockaway Peninsula,” Goldfeder said. “We must ensure that St. John’s has the tools necessary to protect its current services and expand in order to serve our community and keep our families healthy for many years to come.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo allocated $1.2 billion in his executive budget for healthcare facilities. Goldfeder requested a portion of that be reserved for St. John’s.

During the superstorm, the hospital worked on “caring for the many sick, elderly and homeless community members who entered our doors seeking shelter and medical assistance, and not the cost or how it would be recouped,” said Richard Brown, St. John’s CEO.

“These much-needed funds would help our recovery and aid us in upholding our mission of service to the people of the Rockaways,” he said.

 

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City Council replacement to be decided in special election today


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Pesach Osina

Decision day has arrived, and one of eight candidates for southeast Queens’ 31st District will sit upon the City Council.

The council hopefuls hit the ground running just over a month ago when James Sanders vacated his seat and moved to the Senate. The campaign stretch, although short, has been heated.

Michael Duncan, Marie Adam-Ovide, Saywalah Kesselly, Jacques Leandre, Selvena Brooks, Donovan Richards, Allan Jennings and Pesach Osina were put up against each other in several public forums, testing their knowledge of the district neighborhoods and their ideas for the future.

The Daily News reported that in a nonpartisan special election such as this one, political observers note that merely a few hundred votes could determine a winner.

Donovan Richards, Sanders’ former chief-of-staff, received the veteran pol’s support, as well as 18 union endorsements and support from 60 community leaders, according to his Facebook page. Additionally, his campaign war chest came in first, and raised nearly $130,000.

Residents in communities such as Springfield Gardens and Laurelton are concerned with area flooding, and hope their new councilmember can make progress in eliminating the issue. Many people also want to see improvement in the school system and a decrease in home foreclosures.

Photo courtesy of Selvena Brooks 

 

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James Sanders sworn in to Senate


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of James Sanders' Office

Former Councilmember James Sanders graduated to the State Senate in style.

Last Thursday, January 17, Sanders was sworn in at York College, surrounded by a “rainbow coalition of people” – nearly 300 of his constituents.

“We had a little bit of everybody who makes up our district,” said Sanders about the event. “Now, the goal will be to keep this grand coalition together; to ensure that all of the people who were out are allowed to partake in what our district has.”

Sanders plans to focus first on “fighting for our neighbors in the Rockaways,” and ensure the safety of those still struggling after Sandy. Despite his new position, he still intends to keep a very “vigorous” schedule, working with his constituents face-to-face.

“The people hired me not to simply be a creature of Albany, they hired me to come and meet them,” he said. “How are you going to serve the people if you don’t even know the people?”

 

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Candidates vie for Sanders’ City Council seat in special election


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Candidates 15th district

A vacant seat has been left in the 31st Council District by James Sanders’ ascent to the State Senate, and more than one candidate hopes to slide into the spot.

A special election is set to be held on February 19 for the coveted Council seat, covering parts of Springfield Gardens, Laurelton and Rosedale. The race has attracted several different candidates thus far, many of whom have hit the campaign trail running.

Sanders’ former chief-of-staff, Donovan Richards, is considered the front runner, according to multiple media reports. Richards has received endorsements from not only his former boss, but also from the City Council’s Progressive Caucus and the Working Families Party. He worked in the City Council for ten years under Sanders (pictured right), and is now looking to acquire his own seat.

In order to be eligible to run, all candidates must file with the Board of Elections (BOE) by January 15.

Valerie Vazquez, a BOE spokesperson, said that as of press time, Allan Jennings, a former City Councilmember, and Selvena Brooks, who has worked in the State Senate, have filed to run.

Brooks filed her candidacy under the party name “Rebuild Now,” referencing not only rebuilding post-Sandy, but also rebuilding the education system, local economy and neighborhoods.

Marie Adam-Ovide, the district manager of Community Board 8, has been expected to announce her candidacy, as is Earnest Flowers, former chief-of-staff of Assemblymember William Scarborough. Flowers boasts a reputation of making his promises a reality, and having “quantifiable work.”

“The reason why we don’t get a lot of things done is because no one puts anything down on paper, so no one can be held accountable,” said Flowers. “Everything I do is transparent.”

Flowers recently held a fundraising event for his campaign in his home, where he spoke to a crowd of roughly 60 about his passion for the community.

Many others are rumored to join the race, and will face each other on Thursday, February 7 at the 31st District Candidates’ Night. Members of the community will join the candidates in Laurelton at St. Luke’s

Cathedral where they will be given the opportunity to ask the Council hopefuls questions regarding their positions.

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‘Lincoln’ tops Oscar list with 12 nominations


| ctumola@queenscourier.com


The nominations for the 85th annual Oscars were announced this morning in Beverly Hills.

Leading the list was “Lincoln” with 12 nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director for Steven Spielberg,  Best Actor for Daniel Day-Lewis, Supporting Actor for Tommy Lee Jones and Best Supporting Actress for Sally Field

Other best picture nominees are “Amour,” ”Argo,” ”Beasts of the Southern Wild,” ”Django Unchained,” ”Les Miserables,” ”Life of Pi, “‘Silver Linings Playbook” and ”Zero Dark Thirty.”

Two nominations also made history. The list of honorees includes both the youngest and oldest Best Actress contenders to ever be nominated. Emmanuelle Riva, 85, was nominated for her role in “Amour” and nine-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis for the film “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”

Here’s the full list of nominations:


Best picture 

  • “Amour”
  • “Argo”
  • “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
  • “Django Unchained”
  • “Les Misérables”
  • “Life of Pi”
  • “Lincoln”
  • “Silver Linings Playbook”
  • “Zero Dark Thirty”

Actor

  • Bradley Cooper in “Silver Linings Playbook”
  • Daniel Day-Lewis in “Lincoln”
  • Hugh Jackman in “Les Misérables”
  • Joaquin Phoenix in “The Master”
  • Denzel Washington in “Flight”

Actress

  • Jessica Chastain in “Zero Dark Thirty”
  • Jennifer Lawrence in “Silver Linings Playbook”
  • Emmanuelle Riva in “Amour”
  • Quvenzhané Wallis in “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
  • Naomi Watts in “The Impossible”

Actor

  • Alan Arkin in “Argo”
  • Robert De Niro in “Silver Linings Playbook”
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman in “The Master”
  • Tommy Lee Jones in “Lincoln”
  • Christoph Waltz in “Django Unchained”

Supporting actress

  • Amy Adams in “The Master”
  • Sally Field in “Lincoln”
  • Anne Hathaway in “Les Misérables”
  • Helen Hunt in “The Sessions”
  • Jacki Weaver in “Silver Linings Playbook”

Director

  • “Amour,” Michael Haneke
  • “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” Benh Zeitlin
  • “Life of Pi,” Ang Lee
  • “Lincoln,” Steven Spielberg
  • “Silver Linings Playbook,” David O. Russell

Foreign language film 

  • “Amour,” Austria
  • “Kon-Tiki,” Norway
  • “No,” Chile
  • “A Royal Affair,” Denmark
  • “War Witch,” Canada

Animated feature film 

  • “Brave,” Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman
  • “Frankenweenie,” Tim Burton
  • “ParaNorman,” Sam Fell and Chris Butler
  • “The Pirates! Band of Misfits,” Peter Lord
  • “Wreck-It Ralph,” Rich Moore

Adapted screenplay

  • “Argo,” Chris Terrio
  • “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin
  • “Life of Pi,” David Magee
  • “Lincoln,” Tony Kushner
  • “Silver Linings Playbook,” David O. Russell

Original screenplay

  • “Amour,” Michael Haneke
  • “Django Unchained,” Quentin Tarantino
  • “Flight,” John Gatins
  • “Moonrise Kingdom,” Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola
  • “Zero Dark Thirty,” Mark Boal

Best documentary feature

  • “5 Broken Cameras”
  • “The Gatekeepers”
  • “How to Survive a Plague”
  • “The Invisible War”
  • “Searching for Sugar Man”

Best documentary short 

  • “Inocente,” Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine
  • “Kings Point,” Sari Gilman and Jedd Wider
  • “Mondays at Racine,” Cynthia Wade and Robin Honan
  • “Open Heart,” Kief Davidson and Cori Shepherd Stern
  • “Redemption,” Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill

Cinematography

  • “Anna Karenina,” Seamus McGarvey
  • “Django Unchained,” Robert Richardson
  • “Life of Pi,” Claudio Miranda
  • “Lincoln,” Janusz Kaminski
  • “Skyfall,” Roger Deakins

Costume design

  • “Anna Karenina,” Jacqueline Durran
  • “Les Misérables,” Paco Delgado
  • “Lincoln,” Joanna Johnston
  • “Mirror Mirror,” Eiko Ishioka
  • “Snow White and the Huntsman,” Colleen Atwood

Film editing

  • “Argo,” William Goldenberg
  • “Life of Pi,” Tim Squyres
  • “Lincoln,” Michael Kahn
  • “Silver Linings Playbook,” Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers
  • “Zero Dark Thirty,” Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg

Makeup and hairstyling

  • “Hitchcock,” Howard Berger, Peter Montagna and Martin Samuel
  • “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” Peter Swords King, Rick Findlater and Tami Lane
  • “Les Misérables,” Westcott and Julie Dartnell

 Original score

  • “Anna Karenina,” Dario Marianelli
  • “Argo,” Alexandre Desplat
  • “Life of Pi,” Mychael Danna
  • “Lincoln,” John Williams
  • “Skyfall,” Thomas Newman

Original song

  • “Before My Time” from “Chasing Ice,” Music and Lyric by J. Ralph
  • “Everybody Needs A Best Friend” from “Ted,” Music by Walter Murphy; Lyric by Seth MacFarlane
  • “Pi’s Lullaby” from “Life of Pi,” Music by Mychael Danna; Lyric by Bombay Jayashri
  • “Skyfall” from “Skyfall,” Music and Lyric by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth
  • “Suddenly” from “Les Misérables,” Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg; Lyric by Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil

Production design

  • “Anna Karenina” (Production Design: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer)
  • “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” (Production Design: Dan Hennah; Set Decoration: Ra Vincent and Simon Bright)
  • “Les Misérables” (Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Anna Lynch-Robinson)
  • “Life of Pi” (Production Design: David Gropman; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock)
  • “Lincoln” (Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Jim Erickson)

Animated short film

  • “Adam and Dog” (Minkyu Lee)
  • “Fresh Guacamole” (PES)
  • “Head over Heels” (Timothy Reckart and Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly)
  • “Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare”” (David Silverman)
  • “Paperman” (John Kahrs)

Live action short film

  • “Asad” (Bryan Buckley and Mino Jarjoura)
  • “Buzkashi Boys” (Sam French and Ariel Nasr)
  • “Curfew” (Shawn Christensen)
  • “Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw)” (Tom Van Avermaet and Ellen De Waele)
  • “Henry” (Yan England)

Sound editing

  • “Argo” (Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn)
  • “Django Unchained” (Wylie Stateman)
  • “Life of Pi” (Eugene Gearty and Philip Stockton)
  • “Skyfall” (Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers)
  • “Zero Dark Thirty” (Paul N.J. Ottosson)

Sound mixing

  • “Argo” (John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Jose Antonio Garcia)
  • “Les Misérables” (Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes)
  • “Life of Pi” (Ron Bartlett, D.M. Hemphill and Drew Kunin)
  • “Lincoln” (Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Ronald Judkins)
  • “Skyfall” (Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell and Stuart Wilson)

Visual effects

  • “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” (Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and R. Christopher White)
  • “Life of Pi” (Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott)
  • “Marvel’s The Avengers” (Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams and Dan Sudick)
  • “Prometheus” (Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley and Martin Hill)
  • “Snow White and the Huntsman” (Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Philip Brennan, Neil Corbould and Michael Dawson)

Rumblings over JFK runway expansion continue


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey

The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey and the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) seem to be full-speed ahead on a plan to extend a runway at John F. Kennedy (JFK) Airport, stirring ire and confusion among those who live nearby.

“The FAA spoke as if they’re going to go through with this plan,” said Barbara Brown, chair of the Eastern Queens Alliance (EQA) after a community meeting with the flight organization on Tuesday, December 11.

The plan, proposed earlier this year, would cost nearly $500 million and will extend one of the four JFK runways by 728 feet to the north, closer to nearby residents. It also involves widening the runway by roughly 200 feet. This will allow for larger aircraft carrying more passengers, according to Port Authority officials. They also said JFK could significantly reduce flight delays.

The southeast communities of Springfield Gardens, Laurelton and Rosedale already have planes flying very low overhead, seemingly skimming the tops of houses, and creating noise pollution throughout the area.

“It’s killing our neighborhood,” said Brown. “And it seems like the planes are flying lower. You can almost reach out and touch them.”

Robert Jaffe of the FAA countered this claim, saying that all altitude regulations for planes are ensured so pilots can have a safe landing, and that from the ground, it is difficult to accurately determine just how high an airplane is in the sky.

Mark Guiod, manager of New York Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON), was also present at the meeting, and explained flight patterns for the five major New York airports to residents.

“We can only land and depart so many planes in one hour,” he said. “And we have to meet the demand that is given to us at any given hour.” Guiod said that TRACON must direct each flight to a particular runway, and that runway is chosen based on availability, wind, weather, operational efficiency and noise considerations.

Despite the informative presentation given by the FAA, residents were still extremely displeased, because no answer was given as to what is going to be done about the excessive noise.

“You have done an excellent job in describing what is good for the nation,” said Councilmember James Sanders. “But you have done a remarkably poor job at describing what is good for this community.”

FAA representatives did, however, suggest that within the coming years, aircraft will get quieter, and noisy engines will disappear by “natural selection.”

After the initial meeting describing the runway expansion proposal on Thursday, October 4, Brown and the EQA drafted a 19-page document with questions and concerns for the Port Authority and the FAA. They have not heard anything, nor has anyone else from the community that submitted similar letters.

There is a coming final draft proposal, which will be followed by a comment period in which the community can pose more questions and concerns, and Brown and the EQA plan to be very active during this period.

If approved, the runway extension will add $150 million in wages and $707 million in economic activity.

Obama asks for $60 billion in federal aid for Sandy relief


| mhayes@queenscourier.com


The Obama administration has requested $60.4 billion in federal resources for “response, recovery and mitigation related to Sandy damages in all affected states,” according to a letter from Jeffrey Zients, the deputy director for management, to House Speaker John Boehner.

However, that is less than the $80 billion initially sought for the destruction in the states of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction,” said Councilmember James Sanders, who has been working with his constituents throughout Far Rockaway. “And I encourage [the president] to take the next step.”

The next step, said Sanders, is to get the rest of the aid that the devastated areas need. New York is reported to need $42 billion, New Jersey $37 billion and Connecticut $3 billion.

The New York Times also reported that “the president’s plan would not cover several big-ticket items sought by state governments. It would not pay for damage already covered by private insurance, and would extend aid only to primary residences.”

But according to the Obama administration, the amount requested “includes efforts to repair storm damage to homes and public infrastructure and to help affected communities prepare for future storms.”

“Eighty billion is what would make us whole,” countered Sanders. “When we spoke of other national disasters, we met their needs, and that was correct. Let’s make sure that this area receives the same treatment.”

Mayor Michael Bloomberg also sees this federal aid as a start, but knows that more is necessary.

“While the total funding request released by the White House is not everything requested, we have always been realistic about the fiscal constraints facing the federal government. Now it’s up to Congress to come together and . . . work extremely hard to deliver the maximum possible aid.”

Forums focus on frustrations after Sandy


| editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

BY MAGGIE HAYES AND TERENCE M. CULLEN

Nearly a month after Superstorm Sandy tore through south Queens, tens of thousands of residents are still struggling to restore their lives.

Councilmember James Sanders and Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder held separate forums with area residents, featuring representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), Con Edison and National Grid, seeking answers as to when their towns would be able to get back on their feet.

“I want firm dates,” said Sanders before his meeting at Public School 104. “I want to know when we will be made whole. I want to know when we’ll be back.”

As of the meeting, held on Tuesday, November 20, more than 15,000 people were still without power, according to LIPA.

LIPA representative Tom Smith stressed that utility workers have been in the area around the clock, working to repair electrical grids to get power back up and running. But the problem lies with the fact that many electrical grids were completely submerged under water during the storm, and making sure they are completely repaired has become a safety concern.

“We recognize it’s a bad situation,” said Smith. “But we’re not looking to exacerbate it by creating a fire hazard in your home.”

That same Tuesday night, Goldfeder, along with State Senator Joseph Addabbo, held their own forum at P.S. 146 in Howard Beach, where residents from the neighborhood and Broad Channel were vocal about some of the problems they still faced.

Many were irate, often yelling about response times, or walking out after hearing an unsatisfactory answer from officials.

“If I wasn’t the one standing in the front of the room,” Goldfeder said, “I would have been screaming just as loud because I’m equally as frustrated with the way things have gone over the last three weeks. I think what happened, people got a lot of answers, but not necessarily the answers they wanted or liked.”

Gary Robertson said his two homes in Hamilton Beach had lost power and he was forced to use generators to keep things running. He hired a licensed electrician to repair the homes, but was still awaiting Con Ed to come and install a new meter in one.

Robertson is most upset that he was told he would not receive reimbursement for the gallons of gas he poured into his generator, because, he said, he was told the outages were storm-related and not a direct outage by Con Ed.

“You spend all this money on everything else, you can’t get any answers,” he said. “I got answers basically from one representative that I saw and an electrician that I saw on my block.”

Another big concern for residents is with FEMA’s response time and communication.

Far Rockaway homeowner Cadim Ally has been working since the storm to repair the extensive damages to his properties – while at the same time cutting his losses.

Ally lives in one home in the area and rents out another. Both received significant water damage: Ally’s basement flooded and 13 inches of water rose above his first floor. Both houses were evaluated by FEMA.

“[My renter] had no home insurance, so they gave him a check for $9,500. He took the money, he’s gone,” said Ally.

When FEMA assessed the damages to his own home, because he is a homeowner, he was told to go through the Small Business Association to apply for loans. He did so, filling out all of the necessary paperwork, and after 10 days finally received an inspection. A loan officer will now re-evaluate Ally’s situation, and will either approve or decline his loan request. If he is denied, he will have to go back to FEMA and start his process over again.

“I’m actually sitting around every day, just waiting to hear. I don’t know what’s going on,” said Ally. “I’m filling out every piece of paperwork. I’m at a standstill.”

The need for a FEMA station in Howard Beach – and not just Broad Channel, where some cannot travel – was something Addabbo said came out of the P.S. 146 meeting. As a result, he and his colleagues are working to get an accessible FEMA center in the neighborhood.

“We got a commitment from FEMA, [we’re] just figuring out days and places,” said Addabbo.

Power is slowly being restored to the disaster areas, and residents are still doing the best they can do return to normalcy.

“We survived the storm. This was that 100-year storm,” said Sanders. “But can we do more? God willing, we can.”

Op-Ed: Sandy, a natural disaster – a man-made crisis


| editorial@queenscourier.com


BY COUNCILMEMBER JAMES SANDERS

Superstorm Sandy was the worst natural disaster to hit the tri-state area in years. In its wake it left a trail of devastation that stretched from Montauk to Rockaway, upending trees, power lines, and lives in the process. More than 100 homes burned to the ground as the result of a fire, sparked when salt water hit an electrical box in Breezy Point. Staten Island was literally turned on its head, and parts of Brooklyn, Nassau, Suffolk, and of course, New Jersey, will take years to rebuild.

I have always worried that in the wake of a Katrina-like event, my 31st Council District would turn into New York City’s Lower 9th Ward. Throughout my district, we saw major flooding and the loss of homes. We saw downed trees and power lines that destroyed houses and cars. The famous and historic Rockaway bungalows were devastated. Some homeowners in Rosedale dealt with more than five feet of water in basements that crept up to first floors.

For all the physical devastation wrought by Sandy, the true crisis came after the storm, when hundreds of thousands of customers of the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) and Con Edison were without power, many for over three weeks. As of this writing, more than 300 LIPA customers were still without power, nearly a month after the storm. The loss of power created a crisis larger and deeper than was truly necessary, and caused a panic that affected everything from gas prices to the availability of food. Temperatures dropped and a snow storm hit, creating an even bleaker situation for tens of thousands who were still in the dark.

One of the most shocking and egregious aspects of Hurricane Katrina was how quickly government abandoned their constituents. Elected officials tasked with the responsibility of leadership, who were supposed to serve and meet the needs of their citizens, were the first ones to leave New Orleans and the last ones to return. I promised myself I would never let that happen if a major storm were to hit my district.

Two days after the storm, my Far Rockaway office was open. At first it was a makeshift operation. Having no power to function as a modern office, we started with a table, a note pad and a pen. Gradually, we morphed into an operation that took in and distributed supplies like food, clothing, batteries, flashlights, toiletries and other necessities. We went on TV and urged LIPA, FEMA, the Red Cross and the National Guard to expedite their operations in the Far Rockaway area of the peninsula, an area where their presence was lacking until just a week ago.

I’m proud to say that my office had a hand in serving, directly or indirectly, approximately 10,000 families in Far Rockaway. We were aided by the good will of Americans from every corner of our country that sent supplies, food, clothing and money.

There are many lessons we need to take away from Sandy. Never again can we allow a natural disaster to be deepened and prolonged by a lack of readiness on the ground. Never again can we allow our utilities tasked with keeping the lights on to essentially cease to function. When the lights went out, worry set in, leading to fear and eventually, to all out panic in a devastating cascade that made the aftermath of this storm worse than the event itself.

There is no doubt we are living in a new age, where major storms will be both more common and more severe. The litany of ways in which our society needs to advance if we are to see ourselves through this era would drag on far longer than the length of this column. Suffice it to say, we need to adapt to this new reality with better planning, better organization and more precision. We need to update and modernize our infrastructure and our power grids. We need a better plan for servicing those in hard-to-reach areas, and for shuttling people to safety. We need to take seriously the ever-growing threat of a changing environment and a modern world.

Sandy was a devastating storm, but it had ripple effects that were preventable if our society had been better prepared. We need to say no to man-made crises.

Queens Morning Roundup


| brennison@queenscourier.com


Today’s Forecast

Thursday: Mostly cloudy, with a high near 48. Breezy, with a northwest wind 17 to 20 mph. Thursday night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 37. Northwest wind 11 to 16 mph.

Event of the Day: Bruce Lee Fights Back From the Grave

Devil Science Theater 3000 is an interactive event where the audience plays drinking games and makes fun of terrible movies while being egged on by professional comedians in the crowd. Find our more or view more events

Ex-St. John’s University dean Cecilia Chang rejected sweet plea deal before suicide

In the end, disgraced St. John’s University dean Cecilia Chang chose death over a life of dishonor — even at one point rejecting a sweet plea deal of two to six years in a so-called Club Fed prison, the Daily News has learned. Read more: Daily News

Gov. Cuomo fires Emergency Management chief over Sandy tree removal: sources

Office of Emergency Management boss Steven Kuhr was fired after allegedly sending workers to clear a tree in his Long Island driveway as other victims of the storm suffered, sources said yesterday. Read more: NY Post

Nor’easter brings snow, surges to storm-shocked city

A nor’easter brought heavy wind gusts and a snow Wednesday to a city trying to recover from last week’s superstorm, and coastal communities in the five boroughs were forced to endure another round of storm surges. Read more: NY1

Councilman James Sanders rips LIPA over Rockaway power outage

As tensions mount on a powerless Rockaway peninsula, the barbs being tossed at the Long Island Power Authority are becoming harsher with each passing day. City Councilman and soon-to-be state Sen. James Sanders Jr. blasted the utility on Wednesday and its top executive Michael Hervey after Sanders was told many of LIPA’s customers in Queens could be without power for up to three more weeks. Read more: Daily News

New York AG goes after post-Sandy price gougers

The state attorney general yesterday slapped a subpoena on Craigslist, demanding that the popular Web site identify sellers who jacked up prices on post-Sandy gas, generators and other supplies, The Post has learned. Read more: NY Post

Ex-con who shot Nassau County cop and motorist dead should be thrown in prison for the rest of his life: prosecutors

The Queens ex-con who gunned down a Nassau County cop and a motorist near Belmont Park to avoid returning to prison should spend the rest of his life behind bars, prosecutors said Wednesday as the alleged triggerman was indicated for murder, robbery and weapons possession. Read more: Daily News

A night in a Hurricane Sandy evacuation center


| editorial@queenscourier.com


Donovan Richards, chief of staff for Councilmember James Sanders, spent the night of Monday, October 29 in an evacuation center in Jamaica with constituents during the storm. Here is his account of the night.

I was once told that real leadership requires one to lead from the front. With this in mind and an unprecedented hurricane bearing down on my district, I arrived at John Adams High School at 7:15 p.m. to check-in for the night with my constituents. Although John Adams H.S. was listed as an evacuation site, it instantly became clear that there were no plans to have anyone spend the night — there were no sleeping cots or food available for evacuees, no sign whatsoever that anyone intended to stay. I then noticed a mother and her 2-month-old baby sitting uncomfortably on a wooden chair, clearly hoping that her belongings and all she worked for would be there when she returned home after the storm. I became angered after witnessing a man with three special needs children nearly turned away and told to travel through the storm to another shelter. I learned at that moment that John Adams High School was not a shelter, but an intake site.

I was told that residents checking in at John Adams were to be re-routed to York College. Thus, I foolishly grabbed my duffel bag, which contained a single bottle of water and some pretzels, got back into my car and drove to York to ensure this wasn’t happening anywhere else. With the 8 p.m. deadline looming for Sandy to arrive, I assume I broke a few traffic laws on Rockaway Boulevard to avoid feeling her wrath. After parking my car at York College, I then battled what felt like 50 mph wind gust to open my car door, grabbed my unzipped bag and headed into the shelter entrance. I was greeted kindly by security, who checked my bag. I then took off my jacket and grabbed a volunteer vest from the evening volunteer coordinator and started greeting nearly 100 Far Rockaway residents.

Sheltered inside were the very few residents who decided to heed advice from Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Michael Bloomberg and evacuate Zone A. Many of them repeatedly said, “I decided to play it safe.” However, they expressed their concerns about their neighbors who decided to stay. In my travels around the shelter, one woman came to me crying saying her sister and four children called her screaming that she couldn’t get out and the water was taking over her first floor rapidly. I called 9-1-1, but the circuit was overloaded, so I decided to take a chance at calling my contact in the 101st Precinct Community Affairs Unit, although I knew he was in over his head. I was relieved when he answered the precinct phone after two rings and explained the situation, only to find out that they lost communication with the Emergency Service Units out in boats rescuing people. I pray the young lady and her four children made it out safely. Then I was approached by another young lady and her family who told me her neighbor was stranded on her roof. These stories kept me from sleeping the entire night, wondering what news we would wake up to in the morning. Young and old alike spent much of the night glued to NY1, learning the latest updates about the storm.

I was asked questions like: “Mr. Richards, do you think my house got flooded?” After receiving a call from Councilmember James Sanders Jr. that the water had overtaken the basement and first floor of his Far Rockaway home, I knew the answer was almost certainly “yes,” that their homes were flooded. The beach had met the bay, a scenario that could result in not only in mass destruction of property, but possibly death as well.

I knew many of us would have to return home having to start all over, with so many memories and belongings gone. The mental, emotional, and physical drain finally overtook 99 percent of the evacuees. It was so quiet in the vicinity that you would have thought you were in your home alone. At 2 a.m. I decided to grab my blanket and sleep on the couch after working for nearly 20 hours straight, to only be awakened by another volunteer offering me a cot. I decided to take him up on his offer. The cot was as hard as steel, but at least I could stretch out. I slept for just an hour and grabbed my phone to get as many updates on Facebook from my friends as possible. Over 20 volunteers unpacked additional cots from boxes and moved them around York College as three busloads of residents arrived at the shelter.

Thank God we all survived the night safely. I want to thank the first responders and volunteers who braved the weather to keep all of us safe. As harrowing as Sandy was, the results could have been far worse. In the coming days, we must all stand together to ensure that our neighbors get back on their feet and we rebuild like never before. While Sandy may have won the first round, the resolve of the people of the district will win the fight. We have always stood together and we always will!

Councilmember Sanders to remain in the Rockaways


| mhayes@queenscourier.com


Councilmember James Sanders, Jr. is warning residents of the 31st Council District of the harm Sandy could bring.

He urges the community to make all of the necessary emergency preparations in advance of the approaching storm, and to stay informed to city advisories.

“Current forecast models are predicting a storm unprecedented in the history of the tri-state area,” he said. “A mandatory emergency evacuation has been ordered for Zone A, which includes all of the Rockaways. Everyone should immediately get to safe ground and shelter with a relative or visit one of the emergency shelters. If you do stay in place, make sure you tie down and bring inside anything that can potentially fly around in severe wind. Have plenty of water, candles, and canned food. If you have a transistor radio, this is the time to dust it off. I urge all residents, especially those in flood prone areas like the Rockaways and Springfield Gardens, to take every possible precaution to protect yourself during this dangerous storm.”

Sanders also announced his intention to “shelter in place”, remaining in the Rockaways to ensure the delivery of emergency services to constituents who choose to remain in the zone or those who have no alternative. Chief of Staff Donovan Richards is planning to spend Monday night at the Aqueduct Emergency center to see to the needs of reidents who are evacuated.

“It is infinitely better to be over-prepared than under-prepared,” Sanders concluded. “We know that we are likely to see some damage from winds, downed power lines, and flooding. The bottom line is this: we can replace homes and shutters and windows. We can fix roads and rebuild bridges. But we cannot replace lost lives. We cannot return loved ones from the dead.”

 

Queens Morning Roundup


| brennison@queenscourier.com


Today’s Forecast

Friday: Sunny, with a high near 82. South wind 6 to 11 mph. Friday night: Scattered showers, mainly after 2am. Partly cloudy, with a low around 65. South wind 7 to 9 mph becoming west after midnight. Chance of precipitation is 40 percent.

Event of the Day: A Tribute to Lena Horne and Nina Simone

Seven-time MAC (Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs) Winner, Natalie Douglas in a tribute to singing legends Lena Horne and Nina Simone at York College Performing Arts Center. To reserve free tickets please call (212) 575 7660 or email CPAS@hainyc.org. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Queens Primary Election Coverage

Sanders defeats indicted incumbent Huntley in State Senate primary

Six-time incumbent Stavisky claims victory over Messer in primary

Kim takes 40th District race by less than 200 votes

Messer refuses to give up fight

Nily Rozic bests Jerry Iannece in 25th District race

Ulrich wins primary, set to face Addabbo in November

Incumbent Miller defeats newcomer in 38th District

Drifter nabbed in rape of 73-year-old woman in Central Park has disturbing criminal history

A deviant drifter with a terrifying rap sheet that includes two sex attacks on elderly women was charged Thursday with the rape of a 73-year-old bird watcher in Central Park. Three rookie cops caught Appalachian ex-con David Albert Mitchell, 42, strolling down an upper West Side street, and the victim later picked him out of a lineup. Read more: Daily News

Investigators look into whether mole helped Libyan terrorists

Investigators are probing whether a mole helped Libyan terrorists attack the U.S. Consulate — where no Marines were on guard. The raiders met with such little resistance that, after seizing control of the one-story villa in a mere 15 minutes, they unleashed a second assault on a nearby safe house, officials in the U.S. and Libya said Thursday. Read more: Daily News

Man who ran on field during Santana’s no-hitter fined $5K, gets 100 hours of community service

A die-hard New York Mets fan who ran onto Citi Field during Johan Santana’s no hitter celebration pleaded guilty to day and will have to pay up for his overzealous behavior.Rafael Diaz, 32, was ordered by a Queens judge to hand over $4,000 in civil penalties to the Mets, $1,000 to the city, perform 100 hours of community service and must not visit Citi Field for one year. Read more: NY Post

Sanders calls for Huntley to exit Senate race


| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Terence Cullen

In light of charges levied against State Senator Shirley Huntley, her primary opponent is calling for her to step down and exit the race for her seat immediately.

“With great regret, I am calling upon Senator Shirley Huntley to take the high road. Step aside so that a new voice can take over and you can deal with the legal problems you are dealing with,” said Councilmember James Sanders outside Queens County courthouse today, less than three weeks before the September 13 primary election.

Huntley was hit yesterday with conspiracy and tampering charges for allegedly attempting to cover up money her niece and aide stole from a Long Island nonprofit. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said that when Huntley learned of the probe into her niece and aide, she penned a false backdated letter stating the nonprofit she founded, Parent Workshop, Inc.,  conducted workshops that never took place.

The three-time incumbent faces a fiercely contested primary in less than three weeks against Sanders and Gian Jones.

“The Senator should resign, effective immediately,” Sanders said.

The councilmember said Huntley deserves her day in court, but “you cannot deal with a 20-count indictment and effectively do the work of the people.”

This late in the game, the Board of Elections could not remove someone from the ballot, Sanders said, but a candidate could step aside and refuse to continue in the race.

Unions have contacted Sanders about switching their endorsements and the councilmember indicated some will come shortly. He added he looks forward to a “necessary” conversation with the Queens County Democrats, who endorsed Huntley, about possibly switching their support.

 

State Senator Shirley Huntley pleads not guilty to conspiracy and tampering charges


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

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State Senator Shirley Huntley pleaded not guilty to three charges relating to a Long Island nonprofit after turning herself in this morning.

The southeast Queens politician helped cover up nearly $30,000 in public funds steered from Parent Workshop, Inc. to the senator’s aide, Patricia Savage, and to the senator’s niece, Lynn Smith, according to the indictment.

The nonprofit was provided with funds with the promise of providing programs for parents on the workings of the New York City public school system.  Savage and Smith were indicted in December.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said that when Huntley learned of the probe into her niece and aide, she penned a false backdated letter stating the nonprofit conducted workshops that never took place.

Huntley is charged with the tampering with physical evidence and falsifying business records in the first degree, and conspiracy in the fifth degree, a misdemeanor.

“Falsifying documents, conspiracy and deliberately tampering with an open investigation are serious crimes. The individuals who schemed to profit at the taxpayers’ expense and cover it up will be held accountable,” said Schneiderman.

If found guilty, Huntley would be removed from office, under the New York State Public Officers Law.

The two-time incumbent faces a fiercely contested primary in less than three weeks against Councilmember James Sanders and Gian Jones.