Tag Archives: john Liu

John Liu campaign workers found guilty


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

handcuffs-with-color-web-size111

Two former campaign workers of New York City Comptroller and mayoral candidate John Liu were found guilty in connection to illegally funneling funds to Liu’s campaign.

Xing Wu “Oliver” Pan, who was a campaign fundraiser and contribution bundler for the Liu campaign, was convicted in Manhattan federal court of conspiring and attempting to commit fraud, according to the U.S District Attorney’s Office.

Jia “Jenny” Hou, who was Liu’s campaign treasurer, was found guilty of attempting to commit fraud, obstructing justice and making false statements.

A jury announced the verdict Thursday during the first full day of deliberations and after a three-week trial.

“As the jury found, Jia Hou and Oliver Pan stuck a knife into the heart of New York City’s campaign finance law by violating the prohibition against illegal campaign contributions, all to corruptly advantage the campaign of a candidate for city-wide office. Cases like this give the people of New York yet another reason to be troubled by the electoral process, and they have a right to demand fair, open, and honest elections untainted by cynical subversion of campaign finance laws,” said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

“I am deeply saddened by the verdict. I continue to believe in Jenny being a good person and exceptional individual,” Liu said in a statement.” I look forward to this year’s Mayoral election and will continue to ask the voters for their support.”

Liu, who officially announced his Democratic mayoral candidacy on March 17, has not been accused of any wrongdoing in connection to the case.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Friday: Partly cloudy. High of 63. Breezy. Winds from the ENE at 10 to 20 mph. Friday night: Clear. Low of 50. Winds from the ESE at 5 to 15 mph shifting to the NE after midnight.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Jamaica Meets Spain

At 8 p.m., the cultures of Jamaica and Spain will come together at Flushing Town Hall. Tribal Legacy and Flamenco Latino share the stage with dance lessons and a musical jam. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Former Liu campaign associates found guilty in straw donor fraud case

Jenny Hou, City Comptroller John Liu’s former campaign treasurer, and Oliver Pan, a former Liu campaign fundraiser, were found guilty in Manhattan Thursday in a case involving their organizing straw donor schemes. Read more: NY1

Man allegedly runs down friend in Long Island parking lot

A Queens man is facing charges after police say he intentionally hit another man with his car following an altercation on Long Island. Read more: ABC New York

New York cracks down on gas price gouging after Hurricane Sandy

Twenty-five gas stations have settled price-gouging claims made against them immediately after Superstorm Sandy hit New York, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced Thursday. Read more: ABC New York/AP 

Rockaway streets innundated with second wave of sand

Rockaway residents are discovering that their beloved boardwalk was more than an amenity for beach-goers — it was also a vital barrier against the relentless forces of nature. Read more: New York Daily News

Boston Marathon suspect’s remains claimed

A funeral home has claimed the body of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who died in a gunbattle with police after an intense manhunt. Read more: AP

FDA: Ingredient in antibacterial soap, other products may be dangerous

It’s a chemical that’s been in U.S. households for more than 40 years, from the body wash in your bathroom shower to the knives on your kitchen counter to the bedding in your baby’s basinet. Read more: AP/CBS New York

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Wednesday: Overcast in the morning, then mostly cloudy. High of 64. Winds from the NNE at 5 to 10 mph. Wednesday night: Mostly cloudy. Low of 50. Winds from the SE at 5 to 10 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: “Every Day Is a Holiday” 

Starting at 6 p.m., come view the film “Every Day is a Holiday” at the Flushing Library. Join filmmaker Theresa Loong for a discussion and screening of her film (in English with Chinese subtitles) that tells the story of a Chinese prisoner of war, taken by the Japanese, and his quest to become a United States citizen. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Bombs used in Boston Marathon attack said to be made from pressure cookers

One of the explosive devices used in the bombings of the Boston Marathon appeared to have been in a metal pressure cooker packed with nails and ball bearings, CBS News reported. Read more: CBS New York/AP

John Liu campaign fund-raisers begin corruption conspiracy trial

The conspiracy trial of two allies to mayoral hopeful John Liu opened Tuesday with federal prosecutors casting the pair as crooks bent on skirting campaign finance laws. Read more: New York Daily News

Over 5,000 register for NYC bike sharing program

New York City’s Department of Transportation says more than 5,000 people have registered this week for a bike-sharing program that launches in May. Read more: Fox New York/AP

JFK Airport finch pincher Marlon Hariram gets 6 months in prison

A birdbrained smuggler nabbed at Kennedy Airport with nine singing finches from Guyana hidden up his sleeve was sentenced Tuesday to six months in prison. Read more: New York Daily News

Cuomo holds steady in poll but fares poorly on corruption

Gov. Cuomo can exhale. A new poll shows his job approval ratings held steady between March and April after dropping since he signed New York’s controversial new gun control law in January. Read more: New York Post

Pat Summerall voice of NFL dies at 82

Pat Summerall, the NFL player-turned-broadcaster whose deep, resonate voice called games for more than 40 years, has died at the age of 82. Read more: ABC New York/AP

Democratic candidates tackle tough issues at Queens mayoral debate


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Four of five Democrats running for mayor would do away with stop-and-frisk or severely tweak it if they make it to Gracie Mansion.

City Comptroller John Liu, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and ex-Comptroller Bill Thompson said they were opposed to the controversial police tactic at a Queens mayoral debate last week. Former Councilmember Sal Albanese said it needed to be modified.

Front-runner City Council Speaker Christine Quinn was a no-show at the April 11 forum and has not publicly announced her stance on the issue.

“You think you’re reading about some third world dictatorship, not America and certainly not the City of New York,” Liu said. “It has to be abolished. That’s the way to . . . return our city to a state where it’s less of a police state and more of a city that we all came to America to see.”

The four candidates said the NYPD policy has caused rifts between police and communities. Liu, de Blasio and Thompson lambasted the practice as racial profiling.

“Somehow they’re being treated as suspects as a whole class of people,” de Blasio said of young minority males.

The public advocate also supported a plan to allow an inspector general to monitor the city’s police department. He and Thompson called for a new police commissioner, a mayoral appointment, to replace current department head Ray Kelly.

“Stop and frisk, when used correctly, is a useful policing tool,” Thompson said. “But it has been misused and abused by Bloomberg and by Commissioner Ray Kelly.”

Albanese said he would keep the policy in tact but would “focus on quality stops” and officer training. He also supported legalizing marijuana, but did not say if he would give Kelly the boot.

The mayoral hopefuls also discussed the city’s “abysmal” response to Sandy, the need to repair the public school system and plans to fix the city’s income gap.

Liu and de Blasio were in favor of hiking city taxes on incomes of more than $500,000 annually. Thompson said focusing on skill development in public schools would help close the city’s income gap.

“I always talk about the ‘tale of two cities’ we’re living,” de Blasio said. “It’s right in front of our eyes, these vast disparities that are going unaddressed.”

Albanese touted the 1996 passage of the New York City Living Wage Bill under his City Council tenure. But he warned against raising taxes on the wealthy, saying it would push the rich out of the city.

“It’s very sexy to say, ‘Let’s tax the rich.’ Bottom line is we want to generate revenue from services,” he said.

Liu, who wants to increase minimum wage to $11.50 an hour, said there was no evidence of wealthy residents hightailing it out of the city.

“I think it’s time that we stop holding our city hostage to those kinds of ideas,” he said.

 

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Audit finds Department of Buildings is ‘incapable of improving itself’


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

The city’s Department of Buildings (DOB) is falling down on the job.

“The Buildings Department is just dysfunctional and incapable of improving itself,” said Comptroller John Liu. “Its inability to perform basic tasks … bode poorly not just for the department, but for residents and neighborhoods too.”

A recent audit by the comptroller’s office found the DOB is slow in responding to complaints, and has not improved or resolved problems found in earlier audits.

A 2009 audit found DOB inspectors failed to gain access to nearly 40 percent of properties they received complaints about in 2008. The department also sought warrants for less than one percent of inaccessible properties and did not follow up on vacate orders.

Since then, the rate of failed inspection attempts has more than doubled, according to a new audit. The department also only partially implemented a handful of 14 recommendations made in the last audit, Liu said.

But a DOB spokesperson said many recommendations in the report have already been implemented. The department has also launched citywide safety campaigns, a task force to inspect illegal dwellings and “undercover investigations” to target illegal apartments for rent.

“The department is doing more than ever to combat the dangers of illegal conversions,” the spokesperson said. “The department has aggressively targeted illegal apartments most at-risk for fire — with a vacate rate nearly five times greater than before.”

Roughly 20,000 complaints, mostly from Queens, regarding illegal conversions get fielded through the department annually, the DOB said.

But grievances about illegal conversions garner a B rating on the DOB’s priority-arranged scale of complaints — the same level earned by improper fencing, exposed elevator shafts and malfunctioning boilers.

Illegal conversions have been the root of many fire-related deaths at home, including a 2011 blaze that killed one and injured five in Woodside.

 

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Flushing woman blows out 101 birthday candles


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A Flushing centenarian blew out the candles on her 101st birthday cake as she rang in the new year.

Gaetana Capalbi turned 101 on January 1, attributing her long life to good habits.

“I live a clean life,” she laughed, “[with] no drinking or smoking. I never did.”

Capalbi came from Sicily to the United States and settled in Astoria with her father and one brother in 1932, her family said. She found employment in a small local millinery operation before embroidering for a dress factory and later working assembly jobs in factories for 20 years.

“Those days, we worked for nothing, for pennies,” Capalbi said. “I never thought I would live to 101. It was a nice life, an easy life. It was beautiful.”

Capalbi married her late husband, Frank, and together they had one son, Donald, in 1945. She has been living in Flushing with Donald for 38 years.

Comptroller John Liu presented Capalbi with a commendation on behalf of the city during her birthday bash, recognizing her for “living life to the fullest” and for “serving as a living example of the successful immigrant experience.”

 

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Comptroller Liu delivers State of the City


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Raising the minimum wage, providing free college tuition and ending corporate welfare were among the myriad of topics touched on during Comptroller John Liu’s State of the City speech last week.

After a pre-speech show featuring a children’s choir, interpretive dancers and violinists, the presumptive mayoral hopeful delivered his second State of the City speech this year which focused heavily on ways to aid the city’s working and middle classes to a packed room at John Jay College on Thursday, December 20.

“If we are serious about narrowing the wealth gap we need to have the courage to pay all people a livable minimum wage,” Liu said.

The comptroller said due to the city’s high cost of living, the effective minimum wage in the five boroughs was less than $4, the lowest in the country. Liu called for the current $7.25 an hour rate to be raised over five years to $11.50.

Ensuring more residents graduate from high school and college is one way for more residents to earn a decent living, the comptroller said.

Currently, four out of five high school students in the city do not graduate from college, according to the comptroller. Skyrocketing tuition costs is one reason behind the high number of students without a bachelor’s degree. Liu suggested offering the top 10 percent of students at public schools free tuition at any CUNY school.

“The offer of free tuition would help motivate students and elevate CUNY, one of our city’s most valuable gems, to the level of a competitive prize,” said Liu. “It would also be a lifesaver for many working families who are struggling to send their kids to college.”

Madison Square Garden also found itself in Liu’s crosshairs during the talk.

“Why has Madison Square Garden been awarded a $15 million a year real-property tax exemption?” Liu asked.

Eliminating tax breaks and corporate welfare handed out to big companies would raise hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for the city, Liu said. More than $250 million was handed out last year to a handful “of lucky and well-connected businesses,” he said.

While big businesses enjoy tax breaks, many smaller businesses struggle under the weight of taxes and fines. Liu unveiled a series of proposals to reduce taxes and fines by $500 million for small businesses. Fines doubled over the past decade, Liu said.

“While fines are sometimes a necessary evil to protect public safety and health, they should not be used just to generate revenue for the city,” he said.

Quinn leads crowded field for 2013 mayoral nod; More than a third of voters still undecided


| brennison@queenscourier.com

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Council Speaker Christine Quinn remained at the head of the field in the 2013 mayoral race, though her once wide margin has shrunk.

NY1-Marist Poll released a poll surveying registered city voters on next year’s race for mayor with Quinn coming out on top with the support of 23 percent of Democrats. She was followed by former Comptroller Bill Thompson with 15 percent, Comptroller John Liu at 9 percent and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio with 8 percent.

With any primary at least eight months away, 37 percent of Democratic voters remain undecided.

“There’s still a long way to go before Democrats go to the polls,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.

The amount of undecided voters actually increased from the last poll in April, when under 30 percent of voters were unsure. Quinn’s lead also shrunk over the past six months. In April, she held a 20 point lead over Thompson.

Manhattan Media CEO Tom Allon received 2 percent in the poll, double his support from the first poll, though he no longer is a registered Democrat. The poll was conducted before Allon switched parties to run in a less-crowded Republican field.

Forty-six percent of voters in the city do not want another possible Republican candidate — Police Commissioner Ray Kelly — to run.

Despite rumors of former Congressmember Anthony Weiner considering a 2013 run, 58 percent of voters said they do not want him to enter the race. Weiner fared better than actor Alec Baldwin, who two-thirds of New Yorkers do not want to see run.

Whoever takes over the office will be following a mayor 12 percent of voters will believe will be remembered one of the city’s best mayors. Forty-three percent of voters believe Mayor Michael Bloomberg will leave a positive legacy and 8 percent think he’ll be considered one of the city’s worst mayors.

NYC voters less likely to elect atheist, born-again Christian as mayor


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Though most New York City voters do not consider religion a factor in choosing the next mayor, a Quinnipiac University poll released today found that New York City voters are less likely to elect an atheist or born-again Christian than a Muslim or a Mormon.

According to the results, 30 percent of city voters are less likely to vote for an atheist and 27 percent are less likely to elect a born-again Christian; they also said that they were 24 percent less likely to vote for a Mormon candidate and 19 percent less likely to choose a Muslim. But 61 percent of voters said that religious positions would not affect their vote.

The poll also asked voters about other characteristics outside of religion: 16 percent are less likely to vote for an overweight or obese person, 10 percent are less likely to vote for a gay or lesbian mayor and 1 percent said they are less likely to elect a woman.

The last two characteristics are particularly important since Christine Quinn is one of the top candidates in the 2013 New York City race for mayor. If she wins, Quinn will be the city’s first female mayor and the first openly gay one.

But those factors will have little effect on voters. The poll found that 29 percent of New York voters are planning on voting for her in the Democratic mayoral primaries. In second place was City Comptroller William Thompson with 10 percent and 9 percent of voters said they would elect city Comptroller John Liu and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer received 4 percent and only 1 percent of city voters said they would cast their ballot for newspaper publisher Tom Allon.

Quinnipiac also polled city voters about the recent Chick-fil-A controversy. The majority of voters (74 percent) believe a “business owner’s controversial or unpopular opinions should not affect the ability to get government permits to do business,” and that “elected officials should not try to discourage people from patronizing such a business.”

 

Sikhs dispute NYPD policy banning beards, turbans


| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Billy Rennison

With police protecting gurdwaras throughout the city, Sikh worshippers replete with beard and turban will find no officers who look like them.

Police policy prohibits headdresses, preventing many practicing Sikhs from joining the force. Officers in the NYPD must also keep their beards short.

“For this past decade, especially since 9/11, [Sikhs] have been the target of insults, of hate crimes of misunderstandings, of discrimination, even along official channels of government,” said City Comptroller John Liu, who called for the NYPD to amend its policy.

Amardeep Singh, director of programs at the Sikh Coalition, pointed to other police departments around the country that allow officers freedom to wear religious clothing.

“The idea that [Sikhs] can’t be police officers in the neighborhoods that they grew up in New York City is utterly ridiculous,” he said.

Close followers of Sikhism do not trim their hair; the religion also requires members to don a turban.

“Until we have a Sikh employed in the NYPD with a beard and turban, we will not be really understood,” said Harpreet Singh Toor, media consultant for the Sikh Cultural Society in Richmond Hill. “It makes us feel like we are less of an American than anyone else.”

Until recently, Sikhs who were MTA employees were required to wear the logo on their headdresses — a policy that ended in June. Soldiers in the U.S. Army have received individual exemptions to wear a turban while serving.

“It’s very important that government itself, particularly law enforcement, is not excluding our community if we’re even going to make a dent in this larger public perception that turban equals terrorist,” said Singh.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said approximately 19 Sikhs currently work for the police department, but for many who steadfastly practice the religion, that’s not an option, Liu said.

“Sikhs are forced to choose between a career and a religion,” he said.

An NYPD spokesperson said Sikhs may wear turbans as long as they are dark blue and fit under the their cap. Beards are reviewed on a case-by-case basis, the spokesperson said.

A bill, sponsored by Councilmember Mark Weprin, was passed by the city council last year that required employers, including the NYPD, to “accommodate religious practice, unless doing so would create undue hardship.”

The bill did not require the department to make any changes, though litigation remains a possibility, Singh said.

Weprin’s brother, Assemblymember David Weprin, also introduced a bill in Albany that would address uniform agencies allowing individuals to wear their religious attire.

Toor said he holds out hope that one day Sikhs will be able to serve and protect the mayor like he is protecting them.

“That’s the America we’re dreaming of,” he said.

Assembly race divided along ethnic lines


| mchan@queenscourier.com

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A Democratic Assembly hopeful in a primary race already dividing ethnic lines fears a split Korean community could give the Chinese candidate a golden ticket to the general election.

Myungsuk Lee, who is vying for the potentially open and brewing 40th Assembly District race, expects to face an uphill battle with fellow Korean candidate — and county pick — Ron Kim.

“The Korean community is a little divided between Ron Kim and me,” said Lee, 49, of Flushing. “Their votes are really divided. I don’t think it’s easy to unify them because I will keep running. I won’t give up, and the other candidate won’t give up.”

Kim, a 33-year-old South Korean-born community activist, has the backing of the Queens County Democratic Organization and City Comptroller John Liu. The Flushing resident was an aide to then-Assemblymember Mark Weprin before moving on to work for the city’s Department of Buildings and the Department of Small Business Services, serving also as vice president of the Korean American Association of Greater New York.

Lee, owner and publisher of the tabloid newspaper Korean American Times, is the president of the Federation of Korean American Associations in Greater New York and former president of the Korean American Chamber of Commerce of New York and the Korean American Association of Queens.

While each candidate eyeing the seat will still have to garner enough petitions to make it on to the ballot, Lee and Kim expect to face off with Chinese contender Ethel Chen.

“If there are two Koreans and one Chinese [candidate], it’s not easy for us to win,” Lee said, citing the results of the highly competitive 20th District City Council race in 2009, when Korean hopefuls John Choe and S.J. Jung were beat out in the Democratic primary by Chinese contender Yen Chou. “We are afraid that’s going to happen again.”

Chou — who is also reportedly seeking another run for election this year in the 40th District — was ultimately defeated in that general election by then-Republican rival Peter Koo.

Former Democratic district leader Martha Flores-Vazquez has also reportedly joined the buzzing primary this year. But each hopeful could possibly go up against Assemblymember Grace Meng, who currently holds the seat and is making a run for Congress in the 6th District. Meng’s spokesperson did not directly address whether she would step down or seek re-election if her campaign falls short of Capitol Hill.

On the Republican ticket, Chinese candidate Phil Gim — who got the nod from the Queens County GOP — will take on Korean-native Sunny Hahn.

Candidates have until July 12 to gather enough signatures to qualify for the September 13 primaries.

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

 

Alleged Cocaine Kingpin Nabbed In Queens Drug Ring Bust 

A 15-month investigation by the New York City Police Department and the Queens district attorney’s office has led to the arrest of 45 people, including a man who is allegedly one of the city’s biggest cocaine dealers. The investigation centered on two gangs in southeast Queens, the South Side Bloods and the Corley Crew, which police say brought in more than $15,000 a week in narcotics sales. Read more: [NY1]

 

Probe into John Liu’s campaign cash prompts extra caution among Queens pols 

John Liu’s money men are radioactive and another ambitious Queens pol is doing her homework to avoid the fallout. The names of campaign donors to surface in the federal probe of City Controller John Liu have been flagged by Grace Meng’s fundraising operation, a reminder to steer clear of their cash as the assemblywoman runs for the redrawn 6th Congressional District. Read more: [New York Daily News]

 

Elmhurst Developer Criticized For Multiple Code Violations

Queens Senator Tony Avella gathered with community members in Elmhurst on Thursday to say they are outraged that the Department of Buildings continues to issues permits to developer Tommy Huang, even though he consistently violates building and zoning codes. Read more: [NY1]

 

New bills put historic districts in jeopardy, advocates say

Queens has a long history of getting left in the landmark dust. Newly proposed bills in the City Council could extend that history, preservationists said, putting future designations in jeopardy for the borough that has only a fraction of landmarks compared to Brooklyn or Manhattan. Read more: [New York Daily News]

 

Off-duty cop busted for trying to sneak into better seat at Citi Field

You’re out. An off-duty cop was dragged out of a Mets game in handcuffs last night after he tried to sneak into a better seat at Citi Field, police sources said. Read more: [New York Post]

 

MTA Bridge & Tunnel Officers Told To Stop Caring For Rockaways Strays 

For decades, MTA Bridge and Tunnel Officers by the Rockaways say they have been taking care of stray cats in the area, but now they are being told by their bosses to stop. Read more: [NY1]

Top Headlines From Around the Web


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Liu’s former campaign treasurer pleads not guilty to fraud

The lawyer for New York City Comptroller John Liu says his client may seek to be tried separately from her codefendant. Attorney Gerald Lefcourt notified a judge of the possibility Tuesday as his client, Jia ‘Jenny’ Hou , pleaded not guilty to fraud charges. Her name was added last week to an indictment returned against a New Jersey man. The man was arrested several months ago on charges he conspired to funnel illegal contributions donated by an undercover FBI agent posing as a businessman. He too pleaded not guilty Tuesday. Read More: New York Post

 

Knicks shattered over Amar’e injury

Steve Novak was crushed about Knicks teammate Amar’e Stoudemire’s lacerated left hand, explaining he thinks Stoudemire never realized the danger when he punched the glass case of a fire extinguisher after last night’s Game 2 loss to the Heat. “I feel awful for [Stoudemire] because he plays with emotion,” Novak told The Post. “And you’re walking in a hallway, and I don’t think he ever thought for a second that it was going to be glass, that it was going to shatter.” Novak said he “was right behind [Stoudemire],” though he cautioned, “but I didn’t actually see his hand. Read More: New York Post
Department of Education Outlines Social Media Policy For Teachers

The city has introduced its first guidelines for the use of social media by teachers. The Department of Education says teachers should refuse friend requests from students on their personal accounts on sites like Facebook and Twitter. They’re also being warned that their activity may be monitored and should have no expectation of privacy. Teachers will be given training sessions on the new guidelines. Education officials may also ask parents to sign consent forms before their children participate in social media activities or post their work online. Read More: NY1

 

 

Rent Guidelines Board Holds Preliminary Vote Tonight

Tenants and building owners will once again be squabbling over annual rent hikes for the city’s rent-regulated apartments as the Rent Guidelines Board holds a preliminary vote this evening at Cooper Union. Last year, the board hiked rents 3.75 percent on one-year leases and 7.25 percent on two-year leases. Tonight’s meeting is open to the public, but officials say any noisemakers that can be used to disrupt the proceedings are prohibited. Tenants rights groups and Occupy Wall Street demonstrators plan to hold a protest outside the meeting. The board’s final vote is on June 21. Read More: NY1

 

Cops probe death of baby girl on Staten Island

Police are investigating the death of baby girl on Staten Island, NYPD sources said Tuesday. Six-month-old Genesis Monge wasn’t breathing and had a 105-degree fever when her foster mother called 911 just past 10:15 p.m. Monday, sources said. Genesis was rushed from her home on Steuben St. to Staten Island University Hospital North, where doctors told police she had marks consistent with past trauma, sources said. Genesis died at 11:15 p.m. Read More: Daily News

 

Google knew Street View collected emails, passwords, personal information from millions worldwide

Google Street View had an eye on more than just city streets — it also once collected emails, passwords, Internet search histories, medical records and more from millions of people around the world, new documents show. An FCC report released Friday reveals Google spent over two years between 2008 and 2010 quietly capturing a mountain of personal information by tapping into unsecured wireless networks through its Street View cars, which drive around capturing snapshots to populate the search giant’s massive map database. Read More: Daily News

Audit finds co-op, condo property values inflated


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/PHOTOS

A series of missteps by the Department of Finance (DOF) caused drastic upward swings in co-op and condo property taxes, according to two audits released by the city’s comptroller office.

“The department failed to adequately explain significant changes it was making in the calculation of market values. What’s more, in numerous cases, they assigned arbitrary values to co-ops and condos, and in other cases made flat out errors,” said Comptroller John Liu.
According to a summary report released by the DOF this year, taxes are expected to rise by 7.5 percent for co-op owners and 9.6 percent for condo owners across the city, while owners of single-family homes will see an increase of 2.8 percent. Last year, officials said, some co-op and condo valuations saw astronomical increases as high as 147 percent.

The pair of audits, Liu said, found the agency at fault for causing upheavals in condo and co-op property values — a determining factor in property taxes — when it changed its formula for calculating them in Fiscal Year 2011-12. He also said the agency operated “in the dark” without warning the public of the consequences.

According to Liu, the DOF compounded the increases in market value by sticking many co-ops and condos with questionable values instead of comparing them to equivalent, nearby rental properties. The agency’s faulty computer system, Liu said, also led to flaws in assessments, in which a Brooklyn co-op was wrongfully compared to a parking lot, a Staten Island co-op to an adult care facility and a Flushing condo to a rental property in Far Rockaway.

At least 10 percent of all 859 co-op buildings in Queens received much higher property values than the DOF’s formula should have allowed, the comptroller said, including one co-op in Forest Hills that received a market value 227 percent higher than expected.

The DOF did not return The Courier’s calls for comment. However, according to Liu, the DOF said it ensures properties are valued properly and does not agree that properties were over-assessed or under-assessed. The agency, Liu said, agreed that “continual improvement of the modeling criteria for selection of comparable properties is appropriate.”

Breakdown of affected units by neighborhood:

BAYSIDE

14

BEECHHURST

3

BELLE HARBOR

1

CORONA

1

DOUGLASTON

6

FLUSHING-NORTH

11

FLUSHING-SOUTH

8

FOREST HILLS

3

GLEN OAKS

20

HOLLIS

2

HOLLIS HILLS

2

JACKSON HEIGHTS

2

JAMAICA

1

LITTLE NECK

3

OAKLAND GARDENS

5

QUEENS VILLAGE

1

REGO PARK

1

SOUTH JAMAICA

1

WHITESTONE

7

This Morning’s Headlines


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Queens Students Spend Whole Vacation With High-Stakes State Test Preps

School’s out this week, but it’s business as usual at P.S. 15 in Springfield Gardens, Queens. Almost all third through fifth grade students have been showing up each morning for class, and the subject is test prep. “I thought it would be important for them to stay on the regular schedule. Especially getting up in the morning, it’s very essential, and still doing the schoolwork, which would maintain the momentum,” said P.S. 15 Principal Antonio K’Tori. Read More: NY1

 

 

Cops warned of ‘Drano bomb’ threat

Cops in the Rockaways have been targeted for an attack with “Drano bombs,” the Daily News has learned. The NYPD issued a citywide alert Tuesday warning officers about “Drano bombs,” also known as “bottle bombs,” that “are exploded by readily mixing available household products in plastic containers.” Police sources said that while the alert went to every precinct, the greatest concern is in the Rockaways. Read More: Daily News

Kuroda faces tough test, worrisome trend in move from NL to AL

Orlando Hernandez, Jon Lieber and Shawn Chacon. You now know the only three starters acquired during general manager Brian Cashman’s tenure who have enjoyed Yankee success without having spent considerable time in the American League beforehand. It is not much of a list and El Duque is the only member who sustained a positive run with the Yankees. Hiroki Kuroda, the Yankees’ starter in today’s home opener, is trying to expand that small group. Read More: New York Post

Rangers Win Playoff Opener 4-1 Over Ottawa At MSG

Henrik Lundqvist made 30 saves and Brian Boyle got the eventual game-winning goal as the New York Rangers defeated the Ottawa Senators in their playoff opener Thursday night. The 4-2 win sent a happy crowd home from Madison Square Garden. Rangers captain Ryan Callahan opened the scoring for the Blueshirts midway through the first period, only to see the Senators take back the momentum in the second. But Rangers coach John Tortorella called a pivotal timeout, and his team responded with goals by Marian Gaborik, Boyle, and Brad Richards. Read More: NY1

 

 

‘Jamaica Bay Lives!’ documentary highlights problems affecting Queens estuary

Old saris, uncooked rice and flags featuring Hindu deities floating in Jamaica Bay would appear, to many people, as nothing more than litter. But for Indo-Caribbean immigrants, leaving the items on the Rockaway shore was once considered the only way to complete the sacred offering known as a Puja. Enter Kamini Doobay, a 23-year-old clinical researcher, trying to reconcile her religious beliefs with her concern for the environment. In 2009, Doobay began raising awareness of the problem and successfully convinced some of her fellow worshippers to reuse any non-biodegradable items, rather than leave them in the bay. Read More: Daily News

Queens co-ops $crewed: Liu

Queens co-op and condo owners who complained last year of wildly inflated property assessments were right on the mark, city Comptroller John Liu reported yesterday. Liu said his auditors determined that the market value of co-ops citywide went up 12 percent in the tentative 2011-12 property tax rolls — while Queens co-ops were hit with an average 32 percent hike. Liu also said a review of all 859 co-op complexes in Queens turned up 92 that were mistakenly “over-valued” by as much as 25 percent. Read More: New York Post

2-year-old girl forgotten aboard private schoolbus in Queens

A 2-year-old girl was forgotten aboard a private schoolbus after her driver parked the vehicle on a Queens street and went home, police said. The child was rescued after a passing Con-Ed worker spotted her inside the bus on Christie Avenue and 99th Street in Corona and called cops. The driver, Ana Garcia, 62, was arrested at her nearby 99th Street home and charged with failure to exercise control of a minor. Read More: New York Post