Tag Archives: Joe Crowley

Melinda Katz kicks off campaign for borough president


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence Cullen

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

“It is such an important office in our city,” said Katz as she began her run at Portofino’s in her native Forest Hills. “Queens is a diverse borough, and part of the job of a borough president, I believe, is when to make sure that when you are representing so many different groups, so many ethnic backgrounds, so many religions, so many languages throughout this entire borough, part of your job is to find the common core of what people truly want for their families.

Katz was joined by former colleagues in the Assembly including Assemblymember Jeffrion Aubry and now Congressmember Joseph Crowley. Crowley also heads the Queens Democratic Party — which is not expected to endorse any of the several Democratic potentials for the post in the near future.

Of his former colleague’s record, Crowley said Katz had always been a go-getter, resilient and has many years to add on her already tenured political career.

“She’s a tough cookie,” Crowley said. “You have to be tough in this business, I think, in New York City politics. She is someone I think is well rounded in her Queens tradition. She knows this borough very, very well.”

Katz left the City Council at the end of 2009 after serving two terms representing District 29, which includes Forest Hills and Rego Park. Before that, she served in the Assembly — representing relatively the same neighborhoods — from 1994 to 2001. Her political career began with three years working at Borough Hall under long-time Borough President Claire Schulman. In the meantime, she’s served as a shareholder at Greenberg Traurig, a Manhattan law firm where she specializes in government affairs and land use.

Among potential competition are State Senator Jose Peralta and Councilmember Peter Vallone, who’s term limited out of the chamber at the end of next year. While Peralta has officially announced his candidacy — and has a kick-off planned on October 22 — Vallone says he’s “seriously considering” a run.

And while it’s uncertain when a multi-way primary will take place, Katz said she’s ready for what lies ahead in her quest to lead the borough.

“I feel strong,” she said. “I love government, the majority of my adult career has been in government. It’s always been my wish to be able to do what I can for this borough. It’s going to be a good year.”

Bikini bar gets fierce opposition from leaders, locals


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Aravella Simotas

Residents are worried that an uncovered bid for an Astoria bikini bar may be a scantily-clad plan to wiggle a strip club into their neighborhood.

Racks, the club located at 19-26 Steinway Street, was recently leased to a company called 8G Inc. Formerly a billiard parlor, the establishment sits just half a block from homes, several hundred feet from a park and two blocks away from a school.

8G Inc. sought to obtain a liquor license, which was voted against unanimously by Community Board 1 in early September. District Manager Lucille Hartmann attributed the board’s decision to the establishment’s inability to benefit the community. Racks’ fate will be decided by the New York State Liquor Authority, advised by recommendations made by the community.

Assemblymember Aravella Simotas, who lives three blocks from Racks, said the neighborhood is an absolutely inappropriate place for a skin-based business.

“People who live in Upper Ditmars are very unhappy and are concerned that it’s going to have a negative effect on the community,” said Simotas. “Who is going to want to move in when there’s a bikini bar half a block away?”

Simotas, whose campaign against Racks garnered support from Congressmember Joe Crowley and Senator Michael Gianaris, said she remains confident the State Liquor Authority will consider their side and heed their warning.

According to Simotas, 8G Inc. executives refused to promise that the bar would not morph into a full-blown strip club.

8G Inc. attorney Kerry Katsorhis claimed Racks would not become an adult entertainment establishment and that women would be dressed no differently than if they were at the beach.

“It’s zoned for it. It’s in a commercial area. Its neighbors consist of a truck depot and warehouses. It seems to be in a remote area. It’s not surrounded by houses. There are no houses of worship or schools. Where else can you think of,” Katsorhis asked.

Katsorhis believes many people in the community would enjoy the bikini bar.

Carolyn Scarano, a life-long resident of Upper Ditmars, fears the installment of such an institution could devalue the neighborhood. Scarano, who frequently took her now-grown children to the park near Racks, believes it may draw questionable clientele to a family-oriented area.

“I really don’t think this neighborhood calls for an establishment like that,” said Scarano. “We encourage businesses — this is not the kind of establishment we’re looking for.”

Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley kicks off her Congressional campaign


| brennison@queenscourier.com

DSC_0005w

Surrounded by her teenage sons, Owen and Dennis, family and supporters, Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley formally kicked off her Congressional campaign in front of the Unisphere in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

“As I stand here today, with the support of my family, with the support of my friends, I announce my candidacy for Congress,” Crowley announced at the Thursday, March 22 press conference.

The support of Crowley’s family has been the topic of speculation after the Queens Democratic Party, who is chaired by her cousin, Congressmember Joe Crowley, chose to endorse Grace Meng for the Congressional seat.

“The organization has chosen to support Grace Meng. It’s not one person, it’s an organization,” the councilmember said. “They come together and they make a decision.”

“I love my cousin dearly,” Crowley told reporters on the scene.

Crowley is joined in the race for the newly redrawn 6th Congressional District’s Democratic nomination by Meng and Assemblymember Rory Lancman. Crowley said she expects a spirited debate on the issues.

The new 6th District includes much of Crowley’s council district. All three candidates entered the race after the announcement that 15-term Congressmember Gary Ackerman would not seek re-election.

“Washington needs a strong voice for Queens,” Crowley said. “In 2008, with your support I became the first female and the first Democrat elected to the city council District 30 and with your support again can become the first female from Queens since Geraldine Ferraro elected to Congress.”

The primary will be held on June 26.

 

Sunnyside and Woodside concerned over sex attacks


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer

For the past month, women in Sunnyside and Woodside have been looking over their shoulders for a predator on pedals.

With incidents of sexual assault rising across the five boroughs, the neighboring communities are the most recent areas to experience repeated sexual attacks on women.

Beginning September 15, five women and one 12-year-old girl have reported being groped from behind by a man riding a black mountain bicycle. The pervert has been described as a Hispanic male between the ages of 30 and 40.

Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer joined local elected officials on October 17 on 46th Street and Queens Boulevard in Sunnyside in order to alert the public of the predator’s existence.

“Sunnyside and Woodside are safe neighborhoods but one assault against women is one too many,” said Van Bramer. “We will track down this cowardly criminal and make sure he is punished and put away. We must be vigilant as a community as the 108th Precinct pursues leads in the case, and I will do all I can to assist the NYPD in getting this sexual predator off our streets.”

The first attack occurred on the morning of September 15, and the most recent incident happened at 8 a.m. on October 7 on 39th Avenue and 46th Street. The suspect reportedly strikes in the same general vicinity, with incidents usually occurring only a few blocks apart, say police.

“We must have zero tolerance for the recent rash of groping incidents in our neighborhoods,” said Senator Michael Gianaris, who has introduced legislation that would make the groping of a child a felony requiring mandatory jail time. “In addition to the passage of my bill that would increase penalties for gropers, we must band together as a community to keep our streets safe and free from sexual predators.”

A full-scale investigation by the NYPD and 108th Precinct is already underway. Police are asking for the public’s assistance in catching the criminal, and a surveillance video, which was taken October 6 and depicts the suspect riding his bicycle down the street, has been released.

“The women of our community should not have to walk through our neighborhoods in fear of being attacked,” said Congressmember Joseph Crowley. “I urge everyone to take a good look at the surveillance tape and contact the authorities if you recognize the suspect, as well as report any suspicious activity. This is a time when our community can work together to help ensure our family, friends and neighbors are safe and to help bring the person responsible for these attacks to justice.”

Honoring the fallen at St. Michael’s


| bdoda@queenscourier.com

DSC_0315w

Equally as striking as the monument listing the names of the 343 firefighters that sacrificed their lives on September 11, 2001 are the bricks at its base with the names of the first responders from all emergency services that died as a result of working on “the pile.” As of now, the number of first responder deaths remains at 95, but there are plenty of bricks that will undoubtedly add to that number. The memorial service and dedication at St. Michael’s Cemetery honoring fallen firefighters, police and Port Authority officers brought together elected leaders, FDNY and NYPD officials, as well as families of those lost for an afternoon of grieving and a celebration of their lives. The event, on Saturday, September 24, began with an invocation by Father Christopher Keenan who read the Gettysburg Address followed by a statement by Congressmember Joe Crowley who commented on the two dozen young firefighters dressed in bunker gear who stood during the ceremony. “They’re taking up a job that has a legacy,” said Crowley. “Many believed that the fire department could never recover after the attack, but nothing could be more false . . . They have never forgotten those that have fallen.” Crowley also included an anecdote about his cousin John Moran, a Battalion Chief on Randall’s Island who died at the World Trade Center. “I’m sure each and every one of you can take out a moment about a son or daughter that you lost that day and look back and smile,” said Crowley. Congressmember Carolyn Maloney, one of the sponsors of the Zadroga Act – named for police officer James Zadroga who died of a respiratory disease attributed to toxins at Ground Zero – spoke to the long road the legislation took until enacted in January 2011. The act expands death benefits and monitored care for those who worked at the World Trade Center site. “Who would have thought it would have taken us seven years to pass the Zadroga Act?” asked Maloney. “This bill will save lives. We will not stop until we make sure that it continues to take care of the men and women who took care of us.” She continued to mention the beauty of the 9/11 Memorial at the World Trade Center site and urged those in attendance to take a trip downtown to see it. Also in attendance was Comptroller John Liu who helped fund the St. Michael’s 9/11 memorial, Former Council Speaker Peter Vallone, Sr., FDNY Chief Kevin Butler, PAPD Inspector Brian Sullivan, NYPD Chief Dianna Pizzutti as well as the PAPD Pipes and Drums, among other special guests. Former FDNY Chief Alexander Santora and his wife, Maureen who – along with Ed Horn of St. Michaels – were instrumental in erecting the memorial, spoke about the importance of remembering those, like their son, Christopher, who died on 9/11. After encouraging those in attendance to come back to see the additions to the bricks at the base of the memorial, the former chief summed up the feeling of many on hand: “They have one hell of a fire department up in heaven.”