Tag Archives: Malba Gardens Civic Association

Mailers direct Whitestone voters to wrong polling sites

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

An apparent mistake by the city’s Board of Elections (BOE) would have had Whitestone residents voting in Forest Hills during the upcoming primary.

About 100 people in Whitestone, College Point, Malba and Beechhurst were sent BOE mailers last week directing them to vote more than six miles away, double the distance of their usual polling place, a local civic leader said.

The 61-20 Grand Central Parkway poll site listed on the notices is on the border between Corona and Forest Hills.

“I’ve been in Whitestone for 27 years. I’ve always voted at P.S. 193. It’s four blocks from my house,” said resident George Mirtsopoulos, 58. “I get this notice saying I’m voting in Forest Hills. I thought it was ridiculous.”

Mirtsopoulos, Malba Gardens Civic president Alfredo Centola and the area’s city councilmember said they alerted the elections board of the blunder.

The BOE first told residents the change was due to recent redistricting and later switched to say it was a “glitch” that sent voters in the 11357 ZIP code to poll sites in the 11375 area, residents said. The two numbers differ only by switching the last two digits.

“You should check and double check,” Mirtsopoulos said. “Somebody should have said, ‘Wait. They live in Whitestone, why are they voting in Forest Hills?’ The bells and whistles should have gone off a little bit.”

The mailer blindsided multiple residents, mostly the elderly, who did not take immediate notice of change in poll site, Mirtsopoulos said.

“A lot of people on my block didn’t even realize it,” he said. “It would have caused a lot of confusion.”

Councilmember Dan Halloran — who awaits trial for bribery but represents the district for the remainder of the year — said his office “was flooded with calls from angry or upset people.”

He said an 84-year-old widow named Marilyn would not have traveled to Forest Hills despite voting in every election since 1955.

Residents who called the BOE to complain were told new mailers with the correct poll site would be sent out soon, but the Board had no immediate comment for the press.



Armed robbers tie up family in Whitestone home invasion

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Graphic image

Four armed robbers broke into a home on a quiet Whitestone street early Thursday morning, tied up a family and stole $87,000 in cash and jewelry, a police source said.

The victims — including two young girls, ages 7 and 10 — were sleeping during the 4 a.m. invasion on 163rd Street, police said.

The thieves, all wearing black ski masks, entered the home, bound the family and held them at gunpoint. They stole $65,000 in jewelry and about $22,000 in cash, according to a law enforcement source.

The family was then moved into a closet and were told to count to 100, the source said. The suspects fled in an unknown direction.

Sources said the father owns an electric company in New Rochelle.

No arrests have been made yet, and the investigation is ongoing, police said. There were no reported injuries.

It was unclear how the suspects gained access to the house.

Home invasions in the 109th Precinct are “extremely rare,” police sources said. The few that occur, they said, are usually drug related or involve homeowners who own a business and take large amounts of cash home.

Residents said the invasion has shaken the peaceful neighborhood.

“Everybody’s concerned,” said Alfredo Centola, president of the Malba Gardens Civic Association. “People are locking their doors, keeping their eyes open. We’re just alert.”

Neighbor Dolores Oliveri said the father is a “hard worker and a good husband.”

“They’re a nice family,” she said. “It’s a terrible thing.”

All four suspects are men in their 20s, and one was wearing red sneakers with a black Nike swoosh, said the NYPD.

Police released this video of one of the suspects:

Anyone with information in regard to this incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.