Tag Archives: Joseph Addabbo

Addabbo eyes improved health care and tax breaks for veterans


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

SoldiersSalutingHC1011_L_300_C_R

The Senate Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs has recently approved a legislative package of four bills, all co-sponsored by state Senator Joseph Addabbo, which aim to improve health care and help lower property taxes for veterans of all ages.

“Our veterans — whether they served many years ago or are returning home from service — deserve our utmost respect,” said Addabbo, who is the ranking member of the Senate Veterans Committee. “This package of bills is now moving towards a vote by the full Senate and I am hopeful they will be enacted by both houses of the state Legislature before the end of the 2015 legislative season.”

The four bills would establish a veterans’ gerontological advisory committee within the state Office for the Aging to help ensure the state plans appropriately for the needs of an aging veteran population, including programming for long-term and continuing care; health promotion and rehabilitation; and other issues of concern to aging servicemen and women.

Additionally, the state Division of Veterans Affairs would be required to form and disseminate to former service members a “fact sheet” regarding various veteran-specific health care services offered at local hospitals.

The bills would also green-light local real property tax exemptions for reservist veterans who served under the Federal Reserve Forces Act of 1955. This would provide them with tax savings similar to those already available to other Cold War-era service members.

Additionally, the bills will authorize local governments across New York State to adopt laws prohibiting increases in real property tax liability for veterans who are receiving tax exemptions related to their service.

“Full approval of these four pieces of legislation would help to advance important goals that I think we all hold for our veterans: the ability to access appropriate and effective health care services and the ability to keep roofs over their heads when other basic living expenses seem to be rising all the time,” Addabbo said. “We will never be able to adequately thank those who risked everything for all of us in service to our country, but working to ensure our veterans are able to enjoy a decent quality of life when they return to us is a step in the right direction.”

The bills are currently waiting to be considered by the full Senate. An Assembly committee is examining companion bills similar to Addabbo’s legislation.

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Addabbo suggests using proposed Glendale homeless shelter for veteran housing


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

The controversial plan to turn the abandoned warehouse located at 78-16 Cooper Ave. in Glendale into a homeless shelter appears to be moving forward, but state Senator Joseph Addabbo wants to make that proposal a little more specific.

If the city is going to make the site into a homeless shelter, Addabbo said, it should extend the facility to the homeless who have fought for this nation’s freedom.

“I will never agree that housing any individual at the Cooper Avenue site is a good idea,” said Addabbo, who is the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs. “But if the city is insistent on housing people, why not focus our attention on an overlooked issue? We can help the veterans who helped us maintain the quality of life we have come to know instead of warehousing possibly over 100 families into this building.”

“The bottom line is that nobody deserves to be without a home, especially those who initially left their homes to defend our rights,” he added.

Nationwide, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) estimates that one-third of the homeless population has served in the military at one point. Reportedly, the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) estimated that anywhere between 2,000 and 3,500 veterans in New York City are homeless.

Bringing families to the site could run the risk of further crowding school district 24, one of the most overcrowded school districts in the city, Addabbo charged. Changing the site to veterans housing would have minimal effect on the surrounding communities and also address the citywide issue of overcrowded schools.

Even so, Addabbo still believes that there are better uses for the long-defunct warehouse.

“With this Glendale facility, we can repurpose it in a way that helps people but also doesn’t negatively impact the community,” he added. “This site could alternatively also be used as senior housing, school or an animal shelter, as was suggested by a constituent, all of which are lacking in the borough and the city.”

While the DHS intends to address the current homeless crisis, the Cooper Avenue site would not be ready for residents for over a year, the senator noted.

“Keeping the proposal for 78-16 Cooper Ave. as a homeless shelter does not immediately serve anyone,” Addabbo said.

The Glendale and Middle Village communities have been combating the proposed homeless shelter since its inception. Civic and business leaders in both neighborhoods formed the Glendale/Middle Village Coalition for the specific purpose of filing legal action to stop the shelter’s development.

Since its formation, the coalition has raised thousands of dollars to fight the placement of the shelter and have filed an Article 78, an appeal to the city’s Environmental Assessment that it did on the site. The coalition charged the assessment was not complete and wants the city to do a full Environmental Impact study before moving forward with any plans.

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NY Senate approves legislation to protect children, victims and others from high-level sex offenders


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo via Flickr Creative Commons/Wally Gobetz

State Sen. Joseph Addabbo and his colleagues in the Senate approved a series of bills designed to better protect children, victims of sexual assault and other New Yorkers from potentially dangerous convicted sex offenders.

“Among other efforts, these bills seek to further restrict sex offenders from living in close proximity to their victims, as well as to children — whether in schools, pre-kindergarten programs, or in child care,” Addabbo said. “Parents shouldn’t need to worry that their children will come into contact with high-level sex offenders who happen to live in the same vicinity as programs they are attending, and victims of sex crimes shouldn’t have to relive the trauma of their assaults by finding out their attacker lives right around the corner.”

The legislative package consists of initiatives that would prohibit sex offenders who are on parole, on probation or conditionally discharged from being within 1,000 feet of a child daycare facility whenever anyone under 18 years of age is on the premises. Additionally, the state’s searchable sex offender registry information would provide not only the ZIP code of sex offender home residences, but also the ZIP code of their place of employment. The bills would also prevent Level 2 and Level 3 sex offenders — those who have committed the most serious crimes — from living within 1,500 feet of their victims.

The bills also restrict all Level 1, 2 and 3 registered sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school; prohibit sex offenders whose victims were children, as well as all of the most serious Level 3 offenders, from knowingly being within 1,000 feet of a facility offering kindergarten or pre-K classes; and require school districts, after receiving notice from law enforcement agencies, to notify parents when Level 2 or Level 3 sex offenders are residing in the district.

“Given the severity and traumatizing effects of sex offenders — whether they are committed against young children, adults or senior citizens — we need to take steps to help prevent high-risk offenders from committing additional crimes, and many of the bills in this package seek to limit opportunities for re-offending,” Addabbo said. “While some registered sex offenders will live productive, crime-free lives after their conviction and release back into society, we need to worry about those who won’t and who are most likely to victimize others again.”

Addabbo is also a co-sponsor on a piece of legislation that would prohibit the placement of Level 2 and 3 sex offenders in any temporary emergency housing or in homeless shelters that are used to provide housing for families with children. This comes on the heels of a recent investigation that found that there were registered sex offenders currently living in a number of Queens family shelters.

The legislation was forwarded to the Assembly for further action.

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NY Senate passes legislation to up the offense for veteran gravesite desecration


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Vandalizing a war veteran’s grave may soon be a felony in New York thanks to a bill the state Senate recently passed.

“Cemetery desecration already represents a horrendous act of disrespect to the memories of people who have passed away, but it seems even more atrocious to violate the gravesites of men and women who selflessly served their country in the armed forces and may have sacrificed their own lives in this effort,” said state Sen. Joseph Addabbo, a co-sponsor of the bill and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs. “This legislation specifically creates a new Class E felony offense, punishable by up to four years in prison, for those who target the final resting places of veterans.”

Under the terms of the bill, the new crime of “cemetery desecration of a veteran” will apply to instances in which offenders damage or steal real or personal property used as a place of interment; property used to store the remains of a veteran; or other property such as headstones, plaques or decorations associated with the place of interment.

Addabbo said that such instances have been a reoccurring theme at the Acacia Cemetery located in Ozone Park near 84th Street and Liberty Ave.

The bill was first drawn up in the Senate in 2003. It has passed in that legislative house in 2003, 2007, 2012 and now 2015. Each year previously it hasn’t gotten past the Assembly Codes Committee, which is where it is headed now that the Senate passed it again.

Addabbo is hoping the Assembly will pass the bill this time around, as he wants to deter criminals from committing such an abhorrent act.

“Men and women who have devoted themselves to the service of our country — leaving their families behind and placing themselves in mortal danger on our behalf — deserve our deepest respect while in the armed forces, when they return home and when they reach their final resting places,” he said. “This legislation will help to ensure our veterans are honored both in life and in death — just as they should be.”

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Op-ed: Mayoral control — let’s get it right


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

BY SEN. JOSEPH P. ADDABBO JR.

It doesn’t happen often in government that we get a golden opportunity to broadly improve the education of our children, but with the expiration of mayoral control of our school system and the pending negotiations to extend it, we have only one clear mission — let’s get it right for the sake of our children.

Mayoral control over New York City’s education system is up for renewal by June of this year. In this situation, my fellow government colleagues and I in the state Legislature can vote to pass, amend or cancel the 2002 law that gives the mayor and his administration the power to appoint a schools chancellor, oversee the system’s operating budgets and make decisions about how the city will try to lift student achievement across thousands of schools. The law also created the Panel for Educational Policy, in which eight of 13 members are selected by the mayor.
In this next session, as we discuss mayoral control, it is my intention to promote the extension of the law, but with revisions. It is important to have increased input from our teachers, administrators and parents, while also enhancing transparency of various educational processes. This would include implementing a public review when proposing to close a school and reforming our state’s method of standardized testing.

It would additionally be beneficial to eliminate schools’ mid-year budget cuts. I have visited schools and parent meetings within my district, seeking credible ideas and input on this important issue, and I will continue to do so.

Approving mayoral control allows the Department of Education (DOE), a city agency, to oversee our education system. Under the old Board of Education, there was neither transparency nor accountability. It was granted a $6 billion budget and the public had no clue of spending practices and few voters participated in school board elections. Under mayoral control and the DOE, the public is more aware of the budget, spending and the administrative process.

For example, anyone can visit the DOE’s website and open each school’s progress reports, pass rates and percentages, as well as other statistics.

A 2009 New York Post study showed that state reading and math exam pass rates in local schools, as well as the high school graduation rate, soared after the start of mayoral control, specifically in my district. This past year’s grading period, while still under the city’s control, student progress percentages show more than half of the district’s schools meeting or exceeding its targets.

We must prioritize our students and their best interests, and the numbers clearly show they excel while under local control. Giving our parents, teachers and administrators a greater voice encourages and welcomes their involvement, which in my mind is a recipe for success. Every school is different, every neighborhood is different, and nobody knows their own schools and neighborhoods better than those involved every day. With that, we can ensure each school, and therefore each student, is given the tools to succeed.

As the weeks and months pass in Albany, and mayoral control is discussed, I intend to make these facts known, as well as push for the revisions I believe are needed. As always, I welcome my constituents’ input, opinions and concerns. If I am equipped with your voice, I can take that with me to Albany. Feel free to email me at addabbo@nysenate.gov, comment on my Facebook page, Senator Joe Addabbo, or call any of my three district offices.

Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. represents the 15th District of Queens.

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Op-ed: Where would we be without our local small businesses?


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

BY STATE SEN. JOSEPH P. ADDABBO JR.

It has been said small businesses are the backbone of our communities here in Queens, and I am certainly one to reiterate that sentiment. The small businesses, many of which I frequent myself — convenient stores, delis, restaurants and more — are what keep so many of our borough’s commercial corridors going.

Small Business Saturday, on Nov. 29, is a time to acknowledge the services our local stores have to offer. The everyday items we may not always take the time to note, the comfort we have in being a “regular” somewhere, or simply just having a convenient place to shop, are certainly reasons to appreciate our local stores. Cross Bay Boulevard, Myrtle Avenue, Metropolitan Avenue, Jamaica Avenue, Grand Avenue, Beach 116th Street and Beach 129th Street are just some of the corridors that see thousands of people every day. Where would we be without them?

Small Business Saturday falls between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, two of the busiest shopping days of the year, and two days not necessarily reserved for local shops. We should take this day as a reminder to give back to the smaller stores that really allow us to live our day-to-day lives locally. While the holiday chaos can bring us toward larger department stores or big-name brands, we must not forget the mom-and-pop stores which help us all year round.

Statistics show 23 million small businesses account for 54 percent of all sales nationwide, over 50 percent of jobs and nearly 70 percent of all net new jobs since the 1970s. In New York City, those numbers shouldn’t surprise us. Thanks to our corner stores, local supermarkets and more, we should know the impact our small businesses have on our communities.

In Albany, we continue to fight for the rights of small store owners, and this upcoming 2015 session should be no different. I have sponsored a variety of bills and supported budget items relating to local businesses, including ones which establish a small business tax credit for the employment of seniors, of unemployed college graduates and of unemployed veterans. Also another which would provide grants to small business owners to rebuild storefronts severely damaged by Sandy.

In last year’s budget discussions, we were able to adopt several measures to help our local stores financially. The budget provided new, pro-business tax cuts, hiring tax credits, reduction of costs and red tape for businesses, workforce training for job openings, a Start-Up New York Tax Free program and more.

In reducing the red tape for store owners, the budget modernized and simplified both unemployment insurance and workers compensation, and ultimately provides employers with $1.2 billion in savings without affecting workers’ benefits.

Whether at home in the district or in Albany, I will continue to keep the needs of the small business owners in mind. There can always be something done to promote their services and remind them they are vital to our community. This Small Business Saturday, I urge you to do the same. I hope you will join me in shopping at your favorite local store and show the owners the gratitude they deserve.

State Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. represents southern Queens.

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Op-ed: Two catastrophic events, one Queens community


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

BY STATE SENATOR JOSEPH P. ADDABBO JR.

In the moments and months following Superstorm Sandy, I saw struggles and emotions of all types. I saw people wading through the floodwaters carrying every possession they could, I saw men and women piling their useless furniture, appliances, children’s toys and personal photos onto the curbs outside their damaged homes. I also saw the expressions of anxiety, grief and loss on the faces of every affected individual.

My district was crippled, to put it mildly. For me, the last time I remember seeing an event take such a disturbing toll on people, the last time people were so emotionally drained, was on Sept. 11, 2001.

Within the communities I represent, someone had lost someone in 9/11, gotten battered with Hurricane Irene and now may have lost their home during Sandy. It’s hit after hit, which are out of our control. But through it all, our resilience continues to shine.

And now, on the 13th anniversary of 9/11 and the two-year anniversary of Sandy on Oct. 29, as we remember the crises from our past, it reminds us it’s now more important than ever to work together for our future.

The city rebuilding program Build it Back has reimbursed and assisted a number of people. While I am grateful for their efforts, we know that its work is far from over.

Build it Back aid is doing more than just reimbursing storm victims; it’s giving back some stability and reassurance to people’s lives. Time and time again, I heard about my constituents spending their life savings, their kids’ college funds or their retirement money on replacing what Sandy took from them. Build it Back has the opportunity to restore these people’s lives and make the memory of the superstorm less of a nightmare. That is why it is so important as an elected official to work through the Build It Back process in quickly addressing the needs of Sandy victims.

After 9/11, our Queens community lost not their homes but their neighbors, their friends, their family. Memories like that will never fade, never change, but the support from the community never wavered. Thirteen years later, that continues to hold true. Most individuals take time around 9/11 to honor those who died, thank those who saved others and remember the tragic event as one way to understand the need to support our military in the fight against the evil and hatred of terrorism.

Tragic events such as Sandy and 9/11 remind us that we know how to band together to support each other when a situation arises. For many, the word ‘resilient’ is not just found in the dictionary, but has become a lifestyle.

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Op-ed: The latest attempt to improve safety and reduce aggravation on Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards


| oped@queenscourier.com

STATE SEN. JOSEPH P. ADDABBO

Metal structures hanging over sections of Woodhaven Boulevard having been popping up and I continue to hear from constituents with questions as to what they are, what will be done with them and what they can expect for the future of one of the busiest thoroughfares in the borough.

The answer is the NYC Department of Transportation’s (DOT) newly-implemented initiative, Select Bus Service. Mimicking other cities’ Bus Rapid Transit, Select Bus Service is essentially intended to make riding the bus similar to riding the subway. It incorporates dedicated bus lanes, off-board fare collection and transit signal priority to offer theoretically faster and more reliable service on high-ridership routes, such as those along Woodhaven Boulevard.

The metal poles you see on your daily drives will hold “bus lane” signs, and, according to local news sources, will be activated during peak traffic hours.

Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards collectively transport 30,000 riders each day via public transportation. However, the congestion along this route, especially during rush hour, is enough to make the average driver crazy.

That is why the DOT launched a study on about three miles of Woodhaven Boulevard from Queens Boulevard down to Rockaway Boulevard, from Rego Park, to Woodside, to Arverne, respectively. The study found not only can buses be caught in congestion, creating slow service, and the layout of the street makes bus stops difficult for riders to reach, but these factors and more make Woodhaven Boulevard one of the most dangerous corridors in the city for both drivers and pedestrians.

The study hopes to convert the existing Limited-Stop Q52 and Q53 bus routes to the Select Bus Service, ultimately improving and quickening service. The idea is, if the service is more reliable, commuters will be more willing to use buses over cars. Faster and better service could then potentially reduce traffic along the congested route.

My constituents from surrounding communities have expressed concerns about losing street-side parking, traffic stemming from confusion of the new system and whether Select Bus Service would lead to a reduction of local buses. I am also aware of business owners’ concern about delivery drop-offs and pick-ups, and whether the bus lane will hinder trucks ability to stop curbside.

Along Woodhaven Boulevard between Eliot and Metropolitan Avenue, bus lanes will be offset from the curb and not affect any parking. Curbside bus lanes will run through Plattwood and Liberty Avenues, and Rockaway Boulevard and 101st Avenue.

While there has been no time frame scheduled for the start of the program, the DOT will host its next public meeting in the fall. I will be meeting with the Steering Committee of the Bus Rapid Transit and other transportation advocates to address these concerns before the service becomes permanent.

The idea of this program and a dedicated bus lane has been mentioned numerous times in local papers and community meetings throughout the past year. In early 2013, Select Bus Service was suggested as an option for Woodhaven Boulevard to alleviate the traffic nightmare. In 2012, the DOT implemented a number of short-term enhancements on the route, but Select Bus Service is the long-term answer. The metal structures now popping up are a sign of this program moving forward. I encourage my constituents to let me know of their concerns and how they believe the new system would work. Only by working together, we will see improvement on both Woodhaven and Cross Bay Boulevards.

 

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Howard Beach defunct fire hydrants fixed after residents complain


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of state Sen. Joseph Addabbo's office

The Department of Environmental Protection fixed four broken fire hydrants in Howard Beach after state Sen. Joseph Addabbo’s office brought the problem to the agency’s attention.

“It is a major concern when a fire hydrant at any location is not working, but particularly the two hydrants located … on the block of Ave Maria Catholic Academy,” Addabbo said in a letter to DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd date. “It is important that these fire hydrants remain functional in the event of an emergency.”

Addabbo’s office first became aware of the issue after residents in the area complained to his office. The FDNY marked the four hydrants with a white circle to signal that they were broken. According to the state senator, the fire department is also supposed to tell the DEP about these problems but failed to do so. After receiving Addabbo’s letter, the agency fixed all four hydrants.

“When constituents contacted my office and I saw these fire hydrants, I was shocked,” Addabbo said. “I thought it was unacceptable to leave these communities defenseless, without a proper means to fight against a fire emergency, especially near a school.”

The FDNY did not respond to a query from The Courier about why they didn’t inform the DEP about the problem.

The locations of the four hydrants are 157th Avenue between 86th and 87th streets; 157th Avenue between 100th and 101st streets; in front of Ave Maria Catholic Academy on 158th Avenue between 100th and 101st streets; and 101st Street between 158th and 159th avenues.

 

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Lindenwood hosts ‘Wash for Autism’


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

20140622_130627 (1)

SALVATORE LICATA

Over $10,000 was raised by the New York Families for Autistic Children (NYFAC) at the car “Wash for Autism” in Lindenwood on Sunday.

Along with volunteers, staff and board members of NYFAC washed over 100 cars, including those of state Sen. Joseph Addabbo and Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder, in the parking lot of the Queens County Savings Bank on 153rd Avenue. NYFAC also benefited from the annual car show in the lot, which featured nearly 30 classic cars and hot rods. The money raised by the organization was aimed at bettering the lives of those with autism.

“It was a great day and a great event,” said Andrew Baumann, president and CEO of NYFAC. “The community once again came out to show its support.”

 

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Government officials to host Build It Back reps


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

SALVATORE LICATA

The long, dragged-out process of filling out applications and following up with Build It Back may finally get a little easier.

In an effort to better accommodate residents who were affected by Superstorm Sandy, Assemblyman Philip Goldfeder and state Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. will host Build It Back representatives in their local offices, so residents can meet directly with Build It Back officials and learn exactly what they have to do to finalize their applications for the government-subsidized grant.

“There is a lot of confusion surrounding the Build It Back program,” Goldfeder said.

The representatives will file paperwork, investigate individual cases and provide a case manager for each resident. Making an appointment is strongly encouraged but walk-ins are welcomed.

“I am thankful Build it Back has people in the Rockaways, but residents off of the Peninsula were affected as well, and they should be able to get help in their own neighborhood,” Addabbo said.

At Addabbo’s office, located at 159-53 102nd St., representatives will hold meetings every Thursday beginning June 5, from 1 to 4 p.m. Appointments can made by calling 718-738-1111.

At Goldfeder’s offices, located at 2-14 Beach 96th St. and 108-14 Cross Bay Blvd., representatives will alternate between offices beginning with the Rockaway office on Thursday, June 5, from 1 to 4 p.m. Appointments can be made by calling 718-945-9550.

 

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Glendale residents fume over proposed homeless shelter in the neighborhood


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Residents and politicians in Glendale banded together for one last hoorah against a proposed homeless shelter in the neighborhood.

For over a year now, the community wrestled with the non-profit Samaritan Village’s proposal to convert an abandoned factory on 78-16 Cooper Ave. in Glendale into a homeless shelter for 125 families, with a proposed $27-million contract with the city’s Department of Homeless Services (DHS). For the residents who attended the meeting at the Christ the King High School, the shelter posed a threat to the community’s welfare. The meeting was hosted by Community Board 5 and members of the Samaritan Village and the DHS were invited to hear out residents’ thoughts on the proposed homeless shelter.

“These facilities have drunks, drug addicts, the mentally ill and pedophiles,” one Glendale resident said. “It would be inappropriate for them to be around our women and children.”

All 33 residents who signed up to speak were against putting a homeless shelter in their area. Residents’ concerns ranged from the lack of public transportation in the area and the strain that an additional 125 families with children under 18 would put on the area’s infrastructure.

“I don’t think they should be placed in our schools,” a local schoolteacher said and she then went on to say that homeless children are more troublesome. “One hundred and twenty five children, if that’s to be expected, with behavioral problems are going to destroy our children and our neighborhood.”

Politicians representing the area also attended the meeting. Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, State Sen. Joseph Addabbo and Assemblyman Mike Miller all echoed residents’ desire to not have a homeless shelter in the neighborhood.

After a formal proposal was submitted by Samaritan Village in May, 2011, the homeless services department began investigating the site. They have analyzed 70 locations, 16 in Queens, and 54 in other boroughs since then.

Chris Miller, a spokesman for the department, said that they are still in the selection process and that they haven’t settled on any particular location.

“This is nowhere near a done deal,” he said.

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Howard Beach Staples to close at end of May


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Roger Gendron

The only Staples in Howard Beach is closing at the end of this month.

The store put signs up announcing the closure last week but there will be none of the usual sales fanfare, according to the workers at the Cross Bay Boulevard location. Residents have noticed workers starting to pack boxes as the store nears its closing date.

“Sad how everything seems to stay here short term,” Lisa Marie, a local, wrote on the Howard Beach Civic Association Facebook page.

Superstorm Sandy hit businesses hard on the boulevard and the office supply store didn’t open back up until mid-2013. With less than a year of operating after recovering, the store will be closing its doors for good.

A photo of the Staples Howard Beach location after it reopened, taken around the one-year anniversary of Sandy. (THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre)

“Whenever a large store like that closes, it sends bad vibes through the community,” state Senator Joseph Addabbo said.

The fact that Staples was willing to reopen after Sandy, unlike the local Duane Reade, led him and other local politicians to think they were here to stay.

“We’re trying to bring back our local economy,” Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder said. “Staples was always a good neighbor but I’m hopeful. This gives us an opportunity for new entities to come in.”

A Staples worker said that the increase in online retail has made it unnecessary to keep the location open.

“As customers shift online, we are taking aggressive action to right-size our retail footprint,” a spokesperson for Staples, Kaitlyn Reardon said. Staples is also “working to provide transfer options where possible” for the workers there.

Addabbo noted that many of these workers are locals. “It’s a loss of jobs,” he said. “So now the question is post-Staples, what happens?”

 

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Op-ed: Finding jobs in Queens


| oped@queenscourier.com

 STATE SEN. JOSEPH P. ADDABBO, JR.

As the winter weather is at long last breaking, so is a seemingly never-ending downturn in the labor sector. Employers appear to be relishing in warmer temperatures as suddenly the country has seen an increase in jobs for education, health, retail and more.

The United States’ unemployment rate dropped from 6.7 percent in March to 6.3 percent in April — the lowest stat in about five years, according to the Labor Department.

However, at home, we still have work to do. While the country overall has seen improvement, New York City — and Queens — might be falling behind.

The latest numbers show the city at about an 8 percent unemployment rate and Queens not far behind at 7.6 percent. Residents in Queens, the most diverse and one of most populous New York City boroughs, have a range of skill sets that presumably would be ideal for any given employer, yet we continue to fall short with job opportunities.

It is no secret the city’s middle class population has struggled to maintain its class status. My constituents speak of holding two or more jobs or living in a multiple-income household just to get by. But there is also the all-too-frequent case of those coming to my office because they are trapped — unable to find work and scared as to how they will move forward.

For the younger demographic, many fresh out of college and eager to work, finding a job is priority number one. I know this group has the energy to apply to companies day in and day out, and many of them are rewarded for this perseverance. However, those with a few more years under their belt are occasionally overlooked by employers.

My office is hosting job fairs to address the need for finding employment for those who want to work. The first job fair is for those 50 years old and over. I have come to see this growing, overlooked senior population run into a variety of issues when searching for a job — sometimes they have “too much” experience; other times their work history doesn’t line up with current job qualifications. Many times, this group is too busy running a household or taking care of children to devote an endless amount of time to filling out applications. That’s the reason we sought specific vendors to help the older individuals find a job.

The Senior 50+ Job Fair is on Friday, May 30, at the Queens Community House in Kew Gardens, where groups such as the New York State Department of Labor, Sunnyside Home Care Inc., Family Aides Inc., GoodTemps, the Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Center and more will be present to give attendees the opportunities they need. Over the last year, the health care sector was one that added the most jobs and grew the fastest.

My other job fair is Friday, Sept. 19, and will feature approximately 100 vendors offering job opportunities to all who attend. That job fair will be held at the new Rockaway YMCA located at 207 Beach 73rd Street. For more details on either job fair, call me at 718-738-1111.

 

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City officials split on marching in St. Patrick’s Day parades


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo by Spencer Scott Nelson

St. Patrick’s Day parades citywide are creating a stir.

City officials are divided on the decision to march in this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Manhattan. But the annual Queens County St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the Rockaways brought in a slew of pols including Borough President Melinda Katz, State Senator Joseph Addabbo and Councilmember Eric Ulrich.

Last year, after the superstorm hit the Peninsula, then-mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio attended the parade. This year, the mayor did not participate.

Reports surfaced claiming de Blasio said the Rockaway parade excluded some groups, but a spokesperson clarified and cited scheduling conflicts. He participated in Sunnyside’s parade, “St. Pat’s for All.”

Last weekend’s spectacle in the borough’s “Irish Riviera” brought in iconic curly-haired dancers, marching bands, bagpipes, drummers and more.

In early February, de Blasio announced he would break tradition and additionally boycott the annual Irish celebration in Manhattan after parade officials prohibited marchers from carrying gay-pride banners.

Ulrich reacted by saying the mayor’s decision was “truly unfortunate and disappointing.”

Parade planners have said gays are not banned from joining the procession on March 17, just from declaring any sexual orientation.

Following de Blasio’s announcement, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito hopped on the boycott bandwagon and pledged to not march, but said individual councilmembers can make their own decision. Ulrich plans on marching “rain or shine.”

“The parade is a time to honor the Patron Saint of Ireland and the many contributions Irish Americans have made to our city, not anything else,” he said. “While I respect the mayor’s decision to not participate, I plan on marching rain or shine.”

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, who has said he supports gay rights, said he, too, will join the march through the city, which is reportedly expected to bring in about 1 million people.

Former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a gay Irish-Catholic, did not participate in the parade during her time in office. This year, City Comptroller Scott Stringer and Majority Leader Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer are among those who are also opting out.

 

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