Tag Archives: JFK

Fowl strikes cause foul feelings

| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Recent collisions between birds and airplanes departing city airports could give a much-needed “all clear” for negotiations between the Port Authority and wildlife conservation groups.

While recent uproar mainly surrounds possible runway expansion plans at JFK, in-flight crashes with birds came under scrutiny when a Los Angeles-bound flight was quickly grounded after a bird was sucked into its engine shortly after taking off on Thursday, April 19.

Tarmac expansion came under fire when the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey announced its proposal to extend the airport’s runway, expected to cover a significant portion of the Jamaica Bay area, in February, 2011. The 400-acre area of land, including wetlands and shoreline, was designated as a wildlife refuge, park and recreation area by the National Parks System in 1972.

Assemblymember Phil Goldfeder believes conservationists attempting to protect the birds and those trying to ensure the safety of plane passengers need to collaborate.
While preserving Jamaica Bay has long since been a priority on Goldfeder’s platform, he proclaims he is not for working against the airports, adding that there is always a balance to be found.

Goldfeder also noted that many people believe the birds striking the planes are not the same birds nesting in the Jamaica Bay area.

A source close to the situation suggested increasing traffic out of the city’s other airports, LaGuardia and Newark, is a better solution than filling in Jamaica Bay.

Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the Port Authority, claimed that the agency’s wildlife control protocol is above and beyond Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations, insisting they are among the industry’s most effective.

“Our wildlife biologists and staff efforts to minimize threats to aircraft include reducing nesting areas, removing standing water and eliminating food sources,” said Coleman. “We also use pyrotechnics to disperse birds. We believe those efforts are effective since the number of incidents at JFK resulting in aircraft damage has remained about the same since 2008.”

Dan Mundy, president and founder of Jamaica Bay Eco Watchers, believes the recent increase in collisions between birds and planes reflects a recent boost in area wildlife.
Mundy mentioned the famed incident of US Airways Flight 1549, when Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger was forced to make an emergency landing in the Hudson River after striking a flock of Canadian geese in January of 2009. Mundy alleged that high-flying fowl cause more severe problems than those closer to the ground, adding that groups of migrating birds can be dangerous to planes, as with Flight 1549.

Acknowledging that the Port Authority takes measures to scare away birds, such as simulated gunshots and preying falcons, Mundy wondered why plane manufacturers have yet to design a system to prevent birds from being sucked into engines.

Mundy added that bird strikes are not just a problem with airplanes. Several tall buildings, including the Empire State Building, have caused the demise of birds killed by flying directly into the glass windows.

No Changes At Area Airports Expected In Wake Of Foiled Bomb Plot

| jlane@queenscourier.com

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Homeland Security say there are no plans to change security procedures at airports here in the city or beyond amid news federal intelligence officials foiled a new al-Qaeda underwear bomb plot against U.S.-bound aircraft.

U.S. officials say an attack was to have taken place around the time of the first anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Officials say the non-metallic device was a more sophisticated version of the one used by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in his failed Christmas Day attempt in 2009.


This Morning’s Headlines

| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

DOE takes two ‘politically connected’ schools off the chopping block, axes 24 others

The city’s education-policy board voted just before midnight last night to close and then immediately reopen two dozen schools with new names and new staffers in an unprecedented move that could displace more than 1,000 teachers. Two last-minute reprieves were granted yesterday before the vote, and they went to a pair of politically backed schools — Grover Cleveland HS in Queens, which counts state Assembly Education Committee Chair Cathy Nolan as an alumna, and Bushwick Community HS in Brooklyn, which garnered several vocal supporters, including Council Speaker Christine Quinn. Read More: New York Post


Air man’s dogged pursuit

The Port Authority worker who got down on his hands and knees to try to rescue a canny canine who wandered onto a busy runway at La Guardia airport Wednesday is a cat lover who is allergic to dogs, he lamented. But Paul Malichek, 57, didn’t want to spook Byrdie — a 14-month-old Rhodesian ridgeback who had escaped her travel crate and turned the runway into her own private dog run — so he crawled toward her as jets idled nearby. Read More: New York Post

Occupy Protesters Turn Focus To Mounting U.S. Student Debt

Occupy Wall Street protestors gathered in Union Square in Manhattan on Wednesday to mark the day they say the U.S. student debt reached $1 trillion dollars and to draw attention to what they called the financial sector’s “predatory” student loan market. The Federal Reserve disputes the figure, saying U.S. student debt is currently $870 billion. President Barack Obama and his Republican opponent Mitt Romney have called attention to the issue on the campaign trail to try to court the college-age vote. U.S. Senate Democrats and Republicans in the House of Representatives have proposed separate bills to keep interest rates for poor and middle class students at the current level for another year. Read More: NY1


Mother, Sister Of Queens Terror Suspect Testify On His Behalf

The mother and sister of a Queens man accused of plotting a terror attack in the city gave emotional testimony for the defense in Brooklyn federal court on Wednesday. Alisa Medunjanin choked back tears as she talked about her brother, Adis, and the raid on their home. She recounted the story of dozens of agents with weapons storming their sixth-floor apartment to arrest her brother. Alisa said she thought her brother had gone to Pakistan to get married. Prosecutors, who wrapped up their arguments earlier Wednesday, said Adis Medunjanin was there receiving Al-Qaida terror training. Read More: NY1


Rapper Talib Kweli emcees at St. John’s University

Like any great rapper, Talib Kweli knows how to freestyle. Without any notes or prompts, the Brooklyn native rattled off a first-person history of hip hop music to a captive audience of more than 400 students at St. John’s University on Tuesday. “Hip hop is such a folk thing,” the 36-year-old lyricist told the Daily News. “It speaks directly to the people and the language that they are using right now.” Read More: Daily News


While NY Giants sit tight with No. 32 pick, NFC East division rivals Washington Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys load up to challenge Big Blue


One of the crucial issues for the Giants as they go through the offseason getting ready to defend their Super Bowl title is whether they indeed have an identity crisis. Are they the Giants who struggled to become the first team to not only win the NFC East with a mediocre 9-7 record but the first team to win the Super Bowl at 9-7? Or are they the team that raised its game to an unimaginable level in the playoffs and beat the Falcons at home in the wild-card game and then the Packers and 49ers on the road — the two best NFC teams in the regular season — before finishing off their incredible run with another Super Bowl victory over the Patriots? Read More: Daily News


This Morning’s Headlines

| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

JetBlue’s crazy capt. just before freak-out

In the moments before JetBlue pilot Clayton Osbon threw a terrifying tantrum aboard a flight from JFK to Las Vegas last week, he appeared to be the picture of calm, according to a newly released video of the terrifying incident. In the footage, Capt. Osbon can be seen chatting with flight attendants, one of whom is even smiling. The other flight attendant goes on about her business, as Osbon talks and sips water. Moments later, he went berserk, prompting passengers to hold him down while the plane made an emergency landing. Read More: New York Post

Plea deal in Queens deli slay

A Queens man pleaded guilty yesterday to a reduced charge for killing a hardworking deli owner who tried save his brother during a botched robbery. Shawn Forde, 29, admitted he gunned down 54-year-old Juan Torres, owner of the Lucky Grocery & Deli on Merrick Boulevard in Laurelton, in October 2010 as the victim was trying to protect his brother, Felix. Forde had faced 25 years to life for the murder and robbery, but copped a plea to first-degree manslaughter and will be sentenced to 15 years in prison on May 1. Read More: New York Post

Staten Island man arrested in accident that killed woman who died saving grandson

A 40-year-old Staten Island man was arrested early this morning, charged with driving away after running over a grandmother who was returning home from church. Clara Almazo, 57, died while courageously saving her 8-year-old grandson from the speeding vehicle, witnesses and relatives said. At this point, Brian McGurk is charged with leaving the scene of an accident. That accident happened as Almazo and the child were crossing Cary Avenue at Elizabeth Street in the West Brighton section. The black SUV barreled straight toward them at 9:50 p.m. Read More: New York Post



State Attorney General Seeks To Ban Sex Offenders From Online Gaming

“Online gaming is not just a digital playground. It has the potential to be a 21st century crime scene,” said the attorney general. On Thursday, Schneiderman announced the launch of “Operation: Game Over,” a deal with some of the country’s major gaming companies, like Microsoft and Sony, to block more than 3,500 online accounts of registered sex offenders, to take aim at offenders who may use these games to chat online with kids. “The most popular video games are specifically designed so players must interact,” said Schneiderman. Read More: NY1




Amazin’ Mets Seal 1-0 Victory At Citi Field Opener

The New York Mets opened their season of 162 games with a 1-0 win over the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field. Ace starting pitcher Johan Santana made a successful return after missing last season with a shoulder injury, pitching five scoreless innings and only giving up two hits while striking out five. The Mets scored the only run of the game in the sixth inning on an RBI single by David Wright. Frank Francisco closed it out ending it with a strikeout of Jason Heyward. The Mets have now won on opening day 33 of the last 43 years, but are still looking to rebound from three straight losing seasons. Read More: NY1



Roosevelt Islanders Discuss Planned Local Tech Center With Cornell Officials

Cornell University has animations to represent its present vision of the Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute, but officials admitted what they call an open campus will change shape because they want the community’s input. “It’s not just rhetoric. We’re the state’s land grant institution and so it’s critical over the years we are developing this campus we’ve become good neighbors,” said Cornell University President David Skorton. NY1



Sixteen teachers singled out for pervy conduct get to keep their jobs in New York City schools

Sixteen city teachers have been singled out by education officials for pervy classroom behavior — but they can’t be fired, the Daily News has learned. One instructor allegedly bent a kid over a chair and thrust into him from behind, saying “I’ll show you what is gay.” Another couldn’t stop calling girls in his gym class “sexy.” And yet another is accused of telling a student: “I slept with your mother last night.” Read More: Daily News

OpEd: Public opposed to JFK runway expansion

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


As your assemblymember, it is my responsibility to ensure that the community’s concerns are heard. On no issue is that clearer than the Regional Plan Association’s suggested plan to the Port Authority to expand the runway at JFK International Airport into Jamaica Bay. Since the plan was first introduced in February 2011, I have listened to hundreds of residents tell me how this would destroy Jamaica Bay and hurt our community, and despite the steadfast public opposition, the idea remains on the table after over a year of deliberation.

The proposal originally devised by the Regional Plan Association calls for parts of the federally-protected Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge to be filled-in to create a new runway at JFK Airport. The 400-acre parcel of wetlands and shoreline serves as one of the most significant bird sanctuaries in the northeast and is home to over 60 species of reptiles and fish.

An environmental study stated that any further man-made incursion would “diminish a national environment asset for future generations.” For that reason, federal law specifically prohibited any airport expansion in the protected zone in the 1972 wildlife refuge, park and recreation area designation by the National Parks System.

Protecting this wildlife refuge is only one aspect that has worried the community. Both the residents of my community and Jamaica Bay would be greatly impacted by the runway expansion as proposed by the RPA. The project would literally be built in the backyards of communities that rely heavily on the serene atmosphere that the neighborhood currently offers. Property values would undoubtedly be diminished and the potential negative impact to the local area and economy greatly outweighs any benefit a new runway would generate.

In 2009, US Airways Captain Chesley Sullenberger gave us a true story of American heroism when he made an emergency landing into the Hudson River after a rare bird strike caused an engine on his jet to fail. Unfortunately, I have seen reports from aviation consultants that show disrupting the Jamaica Bay wildlife area could raise the risk of further bird strikes at JFK Airport. I urge more research into how expansion would change the bird sanctuary, so that we can be sure it does not put lives in danger.

Air traffic has greatly increased in recent years. I understand the need for airport expansion, but I stand with the residents of Queens – this proposal simply has too many negative implications. There are a number of different, viable solutions at one of the four other airports in the metropolitan area managed by the Port Authority that could accomplish the same goal with less impact on our families and the environment.

I recently sent a letter to Port Authority executives detailing my apprehensions with the proposed runway expansion at JFK and they have publicly stated they will take my concerns into consideration. Jamaica Bay is a tremendous natural resource that deserves protection. This is a good first step and I hope the Port Authority is finally convinced to drop this plan.

If you would like more information on the proposal to expand the runway, or to discuss this or any other important community issue, don’t hesitate to contact my office at 718-945-9550 or email me at goldfederp@assembly.state.ny.us.


Liu hints he might abandon run for mayor in light of scandal

| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Liu hints he might abandon run for mayor in light of scandal

Beleaguered city Comptroller John Liu hinted last night he might abandon a run for mayor following the arrest of his campaign treasurer in the mushrooming straw-donor fund-raising scandal. “All options are on the table. We’re moving forward,” Liu said in a vague response to questions about his future before hosting a Black History Month event at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn. Read More: New York Post

Sex attack on elderly Fresh Meadows woman

A 67-year-old Queens woman was sexually assaulted in her home after she invited in a man who had asked for a glass of water, cops said. She encountered the pervert Monday in her building in Fresh Meadows at 2 p.m. When she invited him in, he pulled a knife and forced her to perform a sex act. Police said he is black, between 45 and 65 years old, 5-foot-9 and weighs 160 pounds. He wore black-rimmed glasses. Read More: New York Post

Yeshiva tutor admits molesting girls, 8

A yeshiva student trusted by parents to tutor their children pleaded guilty yesterday to sexually molesting two fourth-graders. Hillel Selznick, 25, of Flushing, told Queens Supreme Court Justice Richard Buchter he inappropriately touched the two 8-year-old girls over the course of a year during private tutoring lessons inside the victims’ homes. Read More: New York Post

Fanning racial fires

A tutorial workshop for the upcoming FDNY entrance exam turned raucous last night when the organization that represents black firefighters — which was hosting the Queens event — turned away whites who wanted to attend. “This is absurd,” fumed Rob, a 21-year-old who was one of about 60 whites refused entry by the Vulcan Society at MS 72 in Jamaica and whose angry reaction drew 30 NYPD cops and school safety officers. Read More: New York Post

TSA Introduces Expedited Security Screening Lane At JFK

Getting through security at John F. Kennedy Airport is a little easier for some passengers as the Transportation Security Administration launched Wednesday its Pre-Check Program at Terminal 8. Low-risk passengers can volunteer information about themselves before flying to get expedited screening at checkpoints. Under the program, passengers may be allowed to keep their shoes, belts and other items on while passing through security. “I’m not a frequent flyer though, but it is annoying. I understand you need it, but if you can avoid it why not?” said one air traveler. Read More: NY1


Queens Film Festival Gives Credit To Local Talent

Jackson Heights resident Richard Uhlig, who wrote and directed the film “Can’t Dance” is ready to show it off. “‘Can’t Dance’ is about a lonely widower who plays with his toy trains all day and his dead wife’s ghost comes back, and she coaches him on how to talk to the neighbor lady, so he can get a life again,” said Uhlig. Uhlig’s film is one of more than 125 in the Queens World Film Festival, which opens Thursday night and runs through Sunday. He says having his film in the festival is a great opportunity and that he shot it in his apartment in just two and a half days. Read More: NY1

Fourth NYPD suicide this month

| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Fourth NYPD suicide

A cop killed himself yesterday on his way home after finishing his shift in Queens — becoming the fourth NYPD officer to die by his own hand in less than a month, sources told The Post. Matthew Schindler, 39, a 14-year veteran and married father of three kids, pulled his car over at about 4:30 p.m. on the eastbound side of the Long Island Expressway near Exit 40 in Jericho and shot himself under the chin, the sources said. Minutes earlier, Schindler, a highway-safety officer, texted his sergeant to tell him he would not be seeing him anymore. Read More: New York Post


160G JFK gem ‘heist’

A Long Island psychotherapist who got stopped at a boarding gate at JFK Airport because of the size of her carry-on tried to cajole workers into letting her pass — by telling them she had thousands of dollars in exquisite jewelry in the luggage that she didn’t want to let out of her sight. “I told the gate attendant, ‘Listen to me, I have more than $100,000 worth of jewelry here,’ ’’ said Rita Lamberg, 69, who also plays in poker tournaments part-time. Lamberg yesterday admitted to The Post that it may not have been the smartest thing to say. Read More: New York Post

Tragic Whitney back in New Jersey

Carried in a golden hearse, the body of pop queen Whitney Houston arrived in her hometown of Newark, NJ, last night, as preparations began for a massive Friday funeral that only an arena could hold. A private plane carrying Houston’s casket from LA — where she died in a hotel room Saturday — landed at Teterboro Airport at around 10:30 p.m. The casket was placed in a gold-colored hearse and escorted by three police cars to the Whigham Funeral Home, which handled the services for Houston’s dad, John, in 2003. Read More: New York Post


LIRR May Return To Elmhurst

For commuters in Elmhurst who may be fed up with their transit options, there’s some good news: the LIRR may once again be making a stop in their neighborhood. Read More: NY1


Dolan vows to challenge Obama’s birth control plan compromise

The top Catholic bishop in the US has vowed legislative and court challenges to President Obama’s compromise on exempting religiously affiliated employers from paying directly for birth control for their workers. Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, who heads the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in an interview Tuesday that while Obama’s about-face Friday initially sparked glimmers of hope in the church, it ended up being a “hill of beans.” Dolan, who is in Rome to be made a cardinal Saturday, said he trusted Obama wasn’t declaring war on religion and intended to make good on his pledge to work with religious groups to fine-tune the provisions of the insurance mandate. Read More: New York Post

Queens Man Indicted On Charges From December Shootings

| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Queens Man Indicted On Charges From December Shootings

A Queens man was indicted Wednesday on charges he killed two people and injured a third in a shooting rampage last month. Damel Burton, 34, seen above, has been indicted on two counts of second-degree murder and one count of second-degree attempted murder. The Queens district attorney said Burton shot to death 18-year old Keith Murrell, apparently in retaliation for a fight. He then boarded a Q111 bus and allegedly opened fire again, killing Marvin Gilkes and wounding another man. Read More: NY1

Man charged in NY Fed Reserve software theft

U.S. prosecutors arrested a Chinese computer programmer on charges he stole software code valued at nearly $10 million from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Bo Zhang, 32, of Queens, worked as a contract programmer at the bank. He was accused of illegally copying software to an external hard drive, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. district court in Manhattan. Authorities said the software, owned by the U.S. Treasury Department, cost about $9.5 million to develop. A New York Fed spokesman said in a statement that the bank immediately investigated the suspected breach when it was uncovered and promptly referred the matter to authorities. Read More: MSNBC

Queens aims for Apple core 

Queens might be on the verge of getting a bite of the Apple. A real estate developer is in preliminary talks with Apple about opening one of the brand’s iconic stores on bustling Austin St. in Forest Hills. Heskel Group Chairman Yeheskel Elias said if a deal is reached, the sleek store could open in as little as a year. It would be only the second Apple location in the city outside Manhattan. A Staten Island store opened in 2005. “I will do anything I can to bring Apple in,” Elias said. “Queens has to have an Apple store.” Apple spokeswoman Michaela Wilkinson said the company has “made no announcements” on new stores outside Manhattan. But Elias said a broker for Apple reached out to him several months ago to discuss potential store locations in Forest Hills. Read More: Daily News

Brooklyn and Queens see home prices tumble in 4Q

It wasn’t such a merry end to 2011 for Brooklyn and Queens homeowners. Fourth-quarter prices fell in both boroughs and sales activity slumped in Queens, as worries over the economy had buyers hitting the pause button. “The market in Queens and Brooklyn is stable, but fragile,” said Michael Guerra, managing director of Brooklyn for Prudential Douglas Elliman. The median price of a Brooklyn home dropped 4.3% from last year to $454,383. The number of transactions increased 6.1% to 1,558. Read More: Daily News

Mark Wahlberg apologizes for ‘insensitive’ 9/11 remarks

Box-office badass Mark Wahlberg created the perfect storm of controversy yesterday, saying in a new interview that “it wouldn’t have went down like it did” if he had been on one of the airplanes hijacked on 9/11. But the Tinseltown tough guy quickly backed down, using a second take to “deeply apologize to the families of the victims” for his “insensitive” remarks, which read as if they came straight out of a lousy action-movie screenplay. Read More: New York Post

JFK, La Guardia and Newark terminals among worst in world

Three area airport terminals were cited as among the worst in the world yesterday — with Kennedy’s Terminal 3 earning the dubious distinction as the most miserable layover location on the planet. The former Pan Am terminal — which now houses Delta Air Lines — took home the dubious dishonor for its “endless immigration lines,” crummy food and shopping options, and dank environment, according to the travel Web site Frommer’s.  Read More: New York Post

President Obama In Manhattan Today For Fundraisers

As his re-election campaign ramps into full gear, President Barack Obama is heading to the city today for a series of fundraisers. He’s expected to arrive at John F. Kennedy airport around 4 p.m. As usual, his visit will mean street closures and frozen zones whenever his motorcade is on the move. The president’s first stop will be a fundraiser at Daniel restaurant on the Upper East Side, followed by an event at Spike Lee’s home then a visit to the Apollo Theater in Harlem. Read More: NY1

Cab Driver Charged With Raping Passenger May Be Linked To Second Attack

| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Cab Driver Charged With Raping Passenger May Be Linked To Second Attack

Police have arrested a yellow cab driver who they say raped a passenger at knifepoint in Brooklyn last spring, and sources say he may be charged with a second attack that took place in the fall. Gurmeet Singh, 40, of Queens was arrested on Monday and now faces charges including rape, robbery, assault and sex abuse. Police say Singh picked up a 26-year-old woman on May 6 in Williamsburg and allegedly attacked her in the back seat of the cab. The woman, who had been drinking and fell asleep in the cab, woke up during the assault and found she had a knife to her throat. She was then abandoned in Downtown Manhattan, where she contacted police. Read More: NY1

Mayor’s plan to limit booze sales

First, Mayor Bloomberg went after smoking in public places. Then trans-fats, salt and sugary drinks. Now Bloomberg — known for sipping fine wine and downing a cold beer from time to time — wants to crack down on alcohol sales to curb excessive drinking, according to a provocative planning document obtained by The Post. The city Health Department’s far-reaching Partnership for a Healthier New York City initiatives proposes to slash the number of establishments in the city that sell booze. Community “transformation” grants provided under President Obama’s health-care law would help bankroll the effort. Read More: New York Post

JFK Terminal 4 expansion on schedule

After a smooth takeoff, the $1.2 billion project to expand a terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFKIAT) is on track — with no foreseeable delays to its arrival destination date. Improvements to Terminal 4 — the Delta Airlines terminal, which officials say serves 10 million international passengers a year — have been underway for the past year. Upon completion in May 2013, fliers can expect to see a new mechanized baggage screening system — which officials say will expedite the process — a centralized security system on the terminal’s new fourth floor, as well as nine additional gates and a 1,500 linear foot passenger bridge to connect Terminals 2 and 4. Read More: Queens Courier

Beyoncé & Jay-Z’s $1.5M in ‘Blue’ gifts

What to get the baby that has everything — even more. Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s baby girl, Blue, has been lavished with more than $1.5 million in gifts, from a golden rocking horse to a “fantasy” crib fit for Cinderella. Blue Ivy Carter — the music world’s smallest diva — left Lenox Hill Hospital yesterday in the arms of her famous parents for home, where she’ll enjoy the priciest swag this side of Buckingham Palace. When she gets bigger, baby Blue will rock on a solid-gold, handmade horse from Japanese jeweler Ginza Tanaka that Jay-Z bought for $600,000. Read More: New York Post

Sparano to replace Schottenheimer as Jets offensive coordinator

Jets fans won’t have offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer to kick around anymore. The Jets announced last night Schottenheimer informed them he would not return for next season. It seems unlikely he would just walk away from the two years and $3.2 million left on his contract, so it appears the two sides worked out an agreement for him to walk away instead of getting fired. Former Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano, according to a source, will replace Schottenheimer.  Read More: New York Post

Genovese wiseguy Anthony Romanello lucks out, cops to gambling rap with feds 

A Genovese geezer hit the daily double Tuesday, pleading guilty to illegal gambling and winning permission from a federal judge to hang out with a mobbed-up pal who runs the famed Parkside Restaurant in Queens. Reputed capo Anthony (Rom) Romanello, 74, got lucky when a cooperating witness for the feds had a heart attack over the weekend while prosecutors were prepping him for the gangster’s trial, which was to begin this week. Read More: Daily News

JFK Terminal 4 expansion on schedule

| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo Rendering by JFKIAT Terminal 4

After a smooth takeoff, the $1.2 billion project to expand a terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFKIAT) is on track — with no foreseeable delays to its arrival destination date.

Improvements to Terminal 4 — the Delta Airlines terminal, which officials say serves 10 million international passengers a year — have been underway for the past year.

Upon completion in May 2013, fliers can expect to see a new mechanized baggage screening system — which officials say will expedite the process — a centralized security system on the terminal’s new fourth floor, as well as nine additional gates and a 1,500 linear foot passenger bridge to connect Terminals 2 and 4.

“This is one of the region’s — if not the country’s — largest airport construction project underway and one that will continue to benefit our airport and our city for years to come,” said Alain Maca, president of JFKIAT Terminal 4. “Terminal 4 is already the largest international terminal in the New York area, and with the expansion, it’ll become one of the largest in North America.”

The construction period, transit officials said, is expected to generate 6,400 jobs in the area, $360 million in wages and close to $1.8 billion in economic activity.

“As this vision takes shape before our eyes, it’s bringing tremendous benefits to the people of the greater New York area,” said Jos Nijhuis, CEO of the Schiphol Group — the parent company of JFKIAT, which operates Terminal 4. “There is still plenty to do, but it appears remarkable progress has already been made in such a short time frame.”

Nijhuis said the project is “almost halfway there” and is right on schedule.

Officials also anticipate the expansion will stimulate a growth of four million passengers.

“This is a game-changing project for our customers and the entire regional aviation system,” said Susan Baer, the director of the aviation department of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. “By expanding terminal facilities, we’re taking a critical step toward meeting future demands and securing JFK’s legacy as the premier global gateway.”

The terminal will undergo two more phases of construction after 2013, Maca said.

Man who ‘killed’ wife took control of life-insurance payout for kids

| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Man who ‘killed’ wife took control of life-insurance payout for kids

The man being sued for allegedly murdering his Upper West Side wife surreptitiously took control of the $1.6 million life-insurance-policy payout she’d left behind for their two kids, The Post has learned. Rod Covlin, 39, filed papers in Westchester County Surrogate’s Court in April seeking to be named guardian of the cashed-in Aetna policy that Shele Danishefsky Covlin, a money manager, had left for Anna and Myles. “I am Anna’s father,” an affidavit reads. “I have her best interests at heart, and I am in the best position to determine her current and future needs.” Read More: New York Post

Man posed as a cop during sexual assault

The New York Police Department is asking for the public’s assistance in identifying and locating the individuals wanted in connection with a sexual assault and robbery. On Sunday, November 20 at approximately 10:30 p.m., one female victim was posting flyers when she was approached on the street by a burgundy-colored van or SUV with four individuals inside. One suspect — described as a Hispanic male — displayed a business card with a police logo, then told the victim it was illegal to post flyers and asked for her identification, according to police. Read More: Queens Courier

End of an era: Flushing’s Palace Diner closing

The faithful frequenters of Flushing’s Palace Diner will have to find a new haunt once the local landmark serves its last meal after more than three decades in the neighborhood. The diner, which sits along the Long Island Expressway on the corner of Main Street and Horace Harding Expressway and has been a neighborhood mainstay for 35 years, will close its doors for good on Friday, December 30. “Friday is going to be another very emotional day,” said owner George Mantzikos. Read More: Queens Courier

Office Cleaners Rally In Midtown As Strike Threat Remains

Contract negotiations will continue Thursday to try to prevent a strike of more than 20,000 office cleaners in the city, but rallying service employees in Midtown and their supporters pledged on Wednesday to strike if an agreement is not reached by the time the old contract expires. The Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations, which represents building management, and Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ failed to resolve their differences over wages and benefits in the Sheraton Hotel on Wednesday. Read More: NY1

New State Law To Ban Minors From Local Hookah Bars

Steinway Street between 25th and 28th Avenue in Astoria is Queens’ so-called “Hookah Strip,” where people go to smoke “shisha,” or flavored tobacco, through a water pipe known as hookah. The industry is not well-regulated and the businesses are exempt from the state’s ban on smoking in bars and restaurants, so the owners often create their own rules when it comes to minors. Many places do not allow them inside, but some do. That is about to change under a new state law banning minors from these mostly Middle Eastern establishments that have become popular with other Americans. Read More: NY1

Western Queens parents group: we’ve got two overcrowded schools that need additions built  

A western Queens parents group plans to push the city to build additions at two overcrowded elementary schools where the the lack of space is so severe that students are studying in hallways or in a leaky modular unit. Community Education Council District 30 will present its concerns about Public School 11, in Woodside, and PS 2, in Jackson Heights, to the city on January 6 in its annual recommendations to the School Construction Authority. Read More: Daily News

Astoria realtor to shave off his signature mustache to raise money for autism support group

A respected Queens community leader is attempting to turn the mustache he’s sported for the last 35 years into some cold hard cash for an autism organization. Astoria realtor Paul Halvatzis, 52, of Flushing, is to have his beloved whiskers shaved off on Friday at the Redken Saloon Salon in Astoria in an attempt to raise $35,000 for Quality Services for the Autism Community. The group provides support services to autistic individuals and their families in New York City and Long Island. Read More: Daily News

Counterfeit Cash Smuggler at JFK

A Colombian woman was busted at JFK with nearly $300,000 of counterfeit U.S. currency in her luggage, federal officials said yesterday. Karol Andrea Chilito Solarte, 29, who flew here from Medellin, was arrested on December 15 after Customs and Border Protection officers spotted an unusual thickness at the bottom of her suitcase, a spokesman for the agency said. The oddly shaped suitcase sparked the suspicions of Customs officers — and a closer examination uncovered 46 packages of phony $100 bills totaling almost $300,000, the spokesman said. Read More: New York Post

Second Woman Claims TSA Forced Strip Search At JFK

| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Second Woman Claims TSA Forced Strip Search At JFK

A second elderly woman has come forward, saying she was also strip searched by screeners at John F. Kennedy Airport. Ruth Sherman, 88, says Transportation Security Administration agents forced her to pull her pants down so they could check out her colostomy bag before a flight on November 28. This comes after Lenore Zimmerman, 85, says she not only missed her flight Saturday but was injured as well when she was told to disrobe after she asked to be patted down instead of going through a body scanner. TSA officials are denying any strip search happened in that case. Read More: NY1

New Performance Space Floated At Old Queens Diving Pool

Some big changes are on the way for one of the most iconic landmarks in Queens. While Astoria Pool may be the busiest in the city, drawing more than 150,000 visitors last year, the diving pool nearby has not been used in some 30 years. Now parks officials are set to turn the former diving pool it into an outdoor performance space, making the park more accessible to residents. Read More: NY1

Man kills girlfriend’s son, boards Q111 and shoots two more

Holiday cheer turned to terrified screams as violence erupted in Jamaica on Friday, December 2. Damel Burton, 34, allegedly shot and killed his girlfriend’s son, 18-year-old Keith Murrell, in an apartment the three shared on the second floor of the Baisley Park Houses. Burton then boarded the Q111 bus at the Parsons-Archer terminal, where be shot and killed passenger Marvin Gilkes, 36, and injured a second passenger, Jajuan Lipsey, 29. Read More: Queens Courier

File Under Viral: Michele Bachmann confronted by boy who says:  ‘My mommy’s gay but doesn’t need fixing’

It’s isn’t often Michele Bachmann is at a loss for words, but the GOP presidential candidate was left speechless when an 8-year-old boy confronted her about homosexuality. Video of the awkward encounter at a recent book-signing event in South Carolina has gone viral on YouTube. Read More: Daily News

Wall Street analyst David Gray crossed Atlantic  to harass gal pal Daniela Rausnitz 

A J.P. Morgan investment banker has been convicted of waging an obsessive, trans-Atlantic harassment campaign against a gorgeous young mistress he met while working in adjacent cubicles in New York. David Gray, 28, was accused of hacking the beautiful brunette’s emails, placing a tracking device in her phone, deluging her with hundreds of messages and even breaking into her London apartment after their torrid extra-marital affair ended, the Daily Mail reported. Read More: Daily News

Giants coach ‘sick’ over photo of ‘TD’

The Giants are sure the calls did not go their way in Sunday’s last-second 38-35 loss to the still-undefeated Packers. And, at least in one case, they have the picture to prove it. “I just saw a picture that made me sick to my stomach,’’ coach Tom Coughlin said yesterday, and the fact he believes what’s in the picture validates his case didn’t help ease his queasiness. Read More: New York Post

Two Men Shot Dead, One on a Bus in Queens

| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Two Men Shot Dead, One on a Bus in Queens

A gunman killed two people — one on a crowded city bus — in Queens on Friday afternoon, the authorities said. The police said that when they arrested a suspect, he told them he “had a beef to settle.” One of the victims was his girlfriend’s son. He apparently did not know the other one. A third person was shot on the bus, but survived. The violence began at about 3:40 p.m. in an apartment in the Baisley Park housing complex at 116th Avenue and Guy R. Brewer Boulevard in South Jamaica, the police said, where an 18-year-old, described as the son of the suspect’s girlfriend, was shot in the neck and then fell or jumped out of a second-floor window. Read More:  New York Times


TSA Officials Deny Grandmother Was Strip-Searched At JFK

A grandmother from Long Island says she was injured and humiliated during a strip search at Kennedy Airport. Lenore Zimmerman, 85, says she asked be patted down instead of walking through a body scanner because she thought it would interfere with her defibrillator. Instead of a pat-down, she says the security screeners took her to a private room and asked her to remove her pants and other clothing. Read More: NY1


Victim Marvin Gilkes told wife ‘I love you so much’ before being shot to death by maniac on Q111 bus in Queens

The Queens bus passenger fatally shot by a crazed ex-con told his wife “I love you so much” the day he died — and was on his way to see his mom when he was shot on the Q111. Minutes before Marvin Gilkes was shot in the back of the head Friday, accused gunman Damel Burton had killed his girlfriend’s 18-year-old son, police said. Authorities say he was delusional, certain his past crime victims and every passenger on the bus was out to get him. Injured — but recovering in Jamaica Hospital— was Jojuan Lipsey, 29, who was shot in the jaw on the bus. Read More: Daily News


Marlins reel in Jose Reyes for 6 years, $106M

Jose Reyes is speeding to the suddenly splurging Miami Marlins. The All-Star shortstop became the second top free agent to land with the Marlins in a matter of days, agreeing Sunday night to a $106 million, six-year contract, CBSSports.com’s Danny Knobler confirms. After adding All-Star closer Heath Bell for $27 million over three years, the Marlins gave the NL batting champion a deal that includes a club option for 2018 that would make the contract worth $120 million, a person familiar with the deal told the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the agreement had not yet been announced. Read More: CBS News


Heist cop hired to drive Brooklyn bus

An infamous dirty cop — who was caught moonlighting as a bank robber in the 1990s — has a new gig driving a city bus in Brooklyn, The Post has learned. Former Queens cop Paul Voss is now working the night shift driving the B44 bus, some 13 years after his arrest for sticking up five banks — including one when he was on duty. The MTA knew all about his criminal past, but it decided to hire the badge-betraying bandit last April. Read More: New York Post


J. Cole earns Best New Artist Grammy nod

In a year that J. Cole released a debut album that reached the top of the Billboard charts, the St. John’s University graduate has been recognized for his meteoric rise with a Grammy nomination. Cole, 26, was nominated for Best New Artist where he will go up against The Band Perry, Bon Iver, fellow Queens rapper Nicki Minaj and Skrillex.  Acts such as The Beatles, Mariah Carey and Alicia Keys have taken home music’s version of Rookie of the Year. Read More: Queens Courier


Accused deadbeat dad ordered to pay child support for Staten Island son

A Queens man is accused of ducking out on more than two years of child support payments for his Staten Island son. Authorities say Sammy D. Pico, 28, was ordered in October 2007 by a Family Court judge to pay $63 a week in child support. According to court papers, he was in arrears for $16,485.  His son, who is now 11 years old, lives in Grymes Hill, according to authorities. Read More: Staten Island Live

Man in Fake Beard Fires at Officers in Queens, Police Say

A man disguised with a fake beard and wearing a dark trench coat pulled a gun from his pocket and shot at two police officers who approached him in Queens on Friday afternoon, the police said. Neither officer was injured when the man, described only as in his 30s, opened fire at the corner of 37th Road and 76th Street in the Jackson Heights section. He fled and was not caught. His fake beard, dark glasses and hat were recovered during the chase, the police said. Read More: New York Times

Police Find Queens Shooting Victim In Car With Multiple Wounds

Police are investigating the shooting death of a man found with multiple gunshot wounds inside a car in Queens. Ronny Valdez, 29, was found Saturday morning slumped over the wheel of a White Acura with New Jersey license plates in Howard Beach. Neighbors say Valdez was shot while driving and lost control of the vehicle, side-swiping another car before coming to a stop. Read More: NY1

Two Queens men charged in Connecticut pharmacy thefts

| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Two Queens men charged in Connecticut pharmacy thefts

Two New York men were charged by Westport police Monday night with stealing $5,000 in merchandise from pharmacies here and area communities. The men, accompanied by an underage girl, were taken into custody shortly after 8 p.m. Monday when workers at the CVS on Post Road East called police to report that a man had fled after shoplifting merchandise. One of the men, Jeffrey L. Vaughn, 26, of Jamaica, and the girl were found in a car nearby with goods from the CVS as well as other area pharmacies, police said. The merchandise included teeth whitener, hair regrowth treatment, razor blades and allergy medicines, police said. Read More: Westport News

Mitt Romney selects Queens councilmember to lead campaign here

Councilmember Eric A. Ulrich has been named the New York City chairman for Republican Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. The New York GOP primary will be held on April 24, 2012. First elected in 2009 at age 24, Ulrich was the youngest serving member of the Council and serves as Minority Whip of the Republican delegation. He is a former president of the Our Neighbors Civic Association of Ozone Park, and was active with the Knights of Columbus, Kiwanis Club of Howard Beach, Jamaica Rotary and the 102nd Police Precinct Community Council.  Read More: Staten Island Live

Students rally against bullying at P.S. 11

The students of P.S. 11 are urging kids across the city to “give peace a chance.” Parents, faculty and all 1,300 children from the school, located at 54-25 Skillman Avenue in Woodside, united on November 22 for a peace march and anti-violence rally. The parade was in protest to the increase in bullying and violence that has become a perpetual problem plaguing schools. Students carried hand-made signs and photos and chanted cheers calling for peace. Read More: Queens Courier

Queens woman tries to stiff cabbie after ride to Poconos

A New York City woman is in jail after trying to bilk a car service out of a big bill. State police in Swiftwater said Riley Radha, 42, of Flushing, hired the Big Q Car Service in New York City to take her from Queens to Paradise Stream Resort in Marshalls Creek. The driver accepted $30 up front and Radha promised to pay the remainder of the bill upon her local arrival. However, police said Radha was unable to pay the remaining $320 when she got there around 7 a.m. Sunday, and was charged with theft of services. Unable to post bail, she was taken to Monroe County Correctional Facility. Read More: Pocono Record

Jackson Heights Straphangers Sickened By Droppings-Covered Subway Station

City Councilmember Daniel Dromm and Jackson Heights residents have raised a stink for a long time about the pigeon waste that falls down from the beams of the Roosevelt Avenue/Jackson Heights subway station, but Dromm says he has a tough time getting the MTA to regularly clean it. Read More: NY1

Help The Queens Courier play Santa

To kick off the season of giving, The Queens Courier will be collecting items to be donated to the South Queens Boys and Girls Club (SQBGC) for our annual holiday gift drive. Founded in 1957, SQBGC strives to help young people improve their lives by building self-esteem and developing values and skills during critical periods of growth. The group’s mission is to inspire and enable all young people, especially those from at-risk and disadvantaged circumstances. Donations can be dropped off at The Courier’s office, located at 38-15 Bell Boulevard in Bayside. Read More: Queens Courier

Parts Of Far Rockaway Nursing Home Are Without Power For Nine Days And Counting

One day after a Bronx nursing home resident died due to a faulty cable, Lisa McDivitt reports how a nursing facility in Far Rockaway marked day nine of a power outage of their own. Read More: NY1

Local Airports Confiscate Dangerous Weapons Over Thanksgiving Weekend

Transportation Security Administration officials showed off some dangerous weapons confiscated at area airports over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Port Authority police arrested a man bound for the Dominican Republic on Saturday after screeners at John F. Kennedy International Airport found a combination brass knuckles and knife in his checked bag. They also nabbed a man who they say was headed to Germany from Newark Liberty International Airport with a set of brass knuckles in his carry-on bag. On Sunday, authorities took a man into custody after they say he tried to carry a butterfly knife on board a plane at LaGuardia Airport. Read More: NY1


Queens’ Morning Roundup – 10/28/2011: Ilan Grapel released from Egyptian prison, arrives in Israel

| jlane@queenscourier.com

The Round Up

Ilan Grapel released from Egyptian prison, arrives in Israel

A smiling Queens man and Israeli citizen imprisoned for months in Egypt on unsubstantiated suspicions of spying embraced his tearful mother, Irene, who traveled to Israel from her New York home to meet her son on the tarmac at Ben-Gurion International Airport after his release. Read More: NBC News


8 year old groped in Queens

Police say they are looking for a man accused of groping an 8-year-old girl inside a New York City store. The girl was shopping with her mother at a Queens clothing store when she wandered off to a book display. Police say the man then passed by her several times and grabbed her buttocks. Read More: Wall Street Journal


Ex-TSA agents admit to stealing cash from JFK bag

Two former Transportation Security Administration officers based at John F. Kennedy Airport have admitted to stealing $40,000 in cash from a checked bag. 44-year-old Coumar Persad, of Queens, and 31-year-old Davon Webb, of the Bronx, pleaded guilty on Thursday to grand larceny, obstructing governmental administration and official misconduct. They each face six months in jail and five years’ probation at their Jan. 10 sentencing. Read More: Wall Street Journal

Aqueduct racino opens in Queens; Controversial gambling zone anticipates big crowd on first day

A ribbon-cutting celebrating the completion of the first phase of the controversial race track gaming mecca will be held at 11 a.m. – and the doors open to the public at 1p.m. Inside are 2,300 video slot machines – and 2,000 electronic table games like baccarat and roulette, which some critics say oversteps the state ban on full-fledged casinos. Read More: Daily News


Couple fears returning to the streets, but says landlord is trying to push them out of Corona apt.

A formerly homeless Queens couple may end up back in a shelter system they thought they had escaped – despite paying their rent on time even though their city housing subsidy expired. , 48, and Cynthia Sepulveda, 41, said their landlord CI House harassed them to move out of their studio at 38-01 112th St. in Corona. Their lease is up for renewal next month and the building is under renovations to become market-rate apartments after many of their fellow subsidy recipients moved out. Read More: Daily News