Tag Archives: Manhattan

Mayor de Blasio reveals details of Vision Zero plan to put end to traffic fatalities


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/@NYCMayorsOffice

The success of Vision Zero is in the hands of the city’s pedestrians and drivers, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Last month, de Blasio, together with the NYPD, Department of Transportation, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Taxi & Limousine Commission, and Department of Citywide Administrative Services, launched an interagency task force to implement his Vision Zero plan to prevent traffic related deaths.

The initiative aims to reduce traffic fatalities to zero within the next 10 years.

After the interagency group spent the past month developing new strategies to make city streets safer, de Blasio released his administration’s “Vision Zero Action Plan” Tuesday at P.S. 75 in Manhattan. A student from the school was struck by a vehicle two years ago and still suffers complications from the accident.

“We don’t accept a status quo in this town that leads to so many people losing their lives that we could have saved,” de Blasio said. “As a parent I know that particularly in this crowded dense city, the danger is lurking at all times for our children. That’s why we have to act, we have to act aggressively. We won’t wait to act because we have to protect our children; we have to protect all New Yorkers now.”

Since the beginning of the year more than 20 lives have been lost on city streets and last year there were 286 traffic fatalities compared to 333 homicides in the city, according to de Blasio.

The initiatives within the “Vision Zero Action Plan” include increasing enforcement against speeding, reducing the citywide “default” speed limit from 30 to 25 mph, and expanding the use of speed and red light enforcement cameras.

The plan will continue to develop borough-specific street safety plans, redesigning 50 locations each year, expand neighborhood “slow zones,” and enforce stiffer penalties on taxi and livery operators who drive dangerously. The interagency group is expected to continue overseeing and coordinating all the changes.

“A life lost is a life lost – and it is our job to protect New Yorkers, whether it is from violent crime or from a fatal collision on our streets,” NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said. “We are going to use every tool we have – and push to get the additional tools we need – to prevent the needless loss of life.”

Bratton also said the NYPD would focus efforts on speeding and failure to yield violations, which make up 70 percent of pedestrian fatalities in the city.

“But it’s about much more than speed bumps and issuing violations, it’s about all of us taking more responsibilities,” de Blasio said. “Our lives are literally in each other’s hands, our children’s lives are in each other’s hands. Today we begin the work to living up to that responsibility.”

 

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Avonte Oquendo remembered as smiling, courageous boy at funeral


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Cristabelle Tumola / Avonte Oquendo photo: handout

ANGY ALTAMIRANO AND CRISTABELLE TUMOLA 

After the search for autistic Rego Park teen Avonte Oquendo ended tragically, hundreds of mourners came out to say goodbye at his funeral Saturday, where he was remembered as a silent yet always smiling, courageous boy.

Family and friends gathered at a private ceremony held at the Greenwich Village Funeral Home in Manhattan, where a “beautiful silence” took over the room, said Leslie Burch, a close family friend. Also among those paying respects was actress Holly Robinson Peete, whose son has autism.

Avonte’s father is consoled before a service for his son at the Greenwich Village Funeral Home.

Mourners then made their way to St. Joseph’s Church, just a few blocks away, where a public mass was led by former Archbishop of New York Edward Michael Egan.

“He was a strong, courageous young man who handled the struggle with autism with tremendous greatness and true nobility,” said Egan, standing next to a large portrait of Avonte wearing a blue striped shirt, which was also handed out on prayer cards.

Egan also took the time to thank and recognize the efforts that went into the nearly four month search for the missing 14-year-old after he was last seen at the Center Boulevard School in Long Island City on Oct. 4.

Avonte’s mother waits to place a white rose on her son’s casket.

Officials confirmed Tuesday that remains found washed up along the East River in College Point last week were those of Avonte. The cause and manner of  death are pending on future tests, according to the medical examiner.

“Police officers and various agencies of our beloved city made it no less clear that they too knew how precious Avonte was,” said Egan.

Although Avonte’s family decided not to speak during the services Saturday, his mother, together with his brothers and other mourners, laid white roses on top of his white casket following the release of doves outside of the church.

Another family member that attended the service was Avonte’s cousin and best friend 20 –year-old Noah Javan Conti from Woodside who is mildly autistic.

Rocopra Conti, who raised Noah and also attended the funeral, remembers the last time he saw Avonte. That day the teen grabbed Rocopra’s face and gave him one last look.

Noah Javan Conti, Avonte’s cousin and best friend, and Rocopra Conti.

“That was the last moment we shared,” said Rocopra. “I knew how to love him, I knew what he was feeling. I just wish I could have done more.”

Family attorney David Perecman, who spoke at the funeral mass, said that even though the search was concluded, the story is not finished yet.

“I must ask all of you, I ask that this not be the last chapter in this very sad story. We must have at least one more,” said Perecman. “This loss that this family has of Avonte cannot be in vain, we must find out how to fix our schools, we must find out how to fix the system of security that failed this boy.”

There have been conflicting reports on how Avonte, who could not verbally communicate and was supposed to be supervised at all times, managed to leave his school the day he went missing.

Following the identification of her son, Vanessa Fontaine filed suit against the City of New York on Wednesday in Manhattan Supreme Court, according to court records.

Fontaine filed the court action demanding the NYPD release records relating to the disappearance of Avonte, according to published reports.

Perecman also said he will be filing a $25 million negligence claim against the city, focused on the Department of Education, for wrongful death.

 

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Funeral set for Avonte Oquendo, mom files suit against city


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File photo

After human remains found in College Point were identified as missing teen Avonte Oquendo earlier this week, funeral plans have been set for this Saturday.

A private ceremony, opened only to friends and family, will be held at the Greenwich Village Funeral Home located at 199 Bleecker St. in Manhattan from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

A funeral mass will follow and be open to the public, beginning at 11 a.m., at St. Joseph’s Church, at 371 Sixth Ave.

It was confirmed on Tuesday that the remains found washed up along the East River in College Point last week were those of the missing teen, according to the NYC Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. Avonte was last seen almost four months ago at his Long Island City school.

The cause and manner of the death has not yet been determined and are pending on future tests, according to Bolcer.

Following the identification of her son, Vanessa Fontaine filed suit against the City of New York on Wednesday in Manhattan Supreme Court, according to court records.

Fontaine filed the court action demanding the NYPD release records relating to the disappearance of Avonte, according to published reports.

After a passerby found an arm and legs on the evening of Jan. 16 near Powell Cove Boulevard and Endeavor Place, police began to comb through the area. Over the weekend, authorities also recovered more body parts, as well as clothing Avonte was wearing when he went missing, according to cops.

Police said most of the body had been recovered as of Monday.

Avonte was last seen at the Center Boulevard School at 1-50 51st Avenue in Long Island City around 12:38 p.m. on Oct. 4. The school is just across from the East River.

There have been conflicting reports on how the Rego Park teen, who could not verbally communicate and was supposed to be supervised at all times, managed to leave the school.

Earlier this month, the family’s attorney David Perecman obtained a Department of Education (DOE) occurrence report which showed a timeline of what happened before, during and after the boy went missing – but only left larger question marks.

Perecman said he will be filing a $25 million negligence claim against the city, focused on the DOE, for wrongful death.

 

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Overnight service disruptions on E, F, M, R trains this week


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of MTA

Starting Monday night, there will be service disruptions on the E, F, M and R lines between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. in Queens and Manhattan for four consecutive weeknights, as part of the MTA’s Fastrack maintenance program:

  • E service will be suspended between Roosevelt Avenue and World Trade Center.
  • F service will be suspended between Roosevelt Avenue and 21 Street-Queensbridge.
  • M service will end early between 71 Avenue and Essex Street each night.
  • R service will end early between 71 Avenue and Whitehall Street each night.

Travel alternatives

  • Take the 7 between Manhattan and 74 St/Roosevelt Av or Queensboro Plaza.
  • Take the N between Manhattan and Queensboro Plaza.
  • In Manhattan, transfer at 5 Avenue/42 Street-Bryant Park 7/D/F, Times Square-42 Street/Port Authority 7/A, and 34 Street-Herald Square D/F/N.
  • Take the R between Queens Plaza and 71 Avenue. When R service ends, E trains run local between Queens Plaza and 71 Avenue until 10 p.m. After 10 PM, take the E Local between Roosevelt Avenue and 71 Avenue.
  • In Manhattan along 8th Avenue, take the A Local or C instead of the E.
  • Along 53 Street, use the D or nearby 6 and N stations instead.
  • Free shuttle buses run local between Queensboro Plaza and 74 Street-Roosevelt Avenue making station stops at Queens Plaza, 36 Street, Steinway Street, 46 Street, Northern Boulevard, and 65 Street.
  • In Queens, transfer between shuttle buses and trains at 74 Street-Roosevelt Avenue 7/E/F or Queensboro Plaza 7/N.

 

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LIC community voices outrage against upcoming No. 7 train suspensions


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

Long Island City residents and business owners are telling the MTA enough is enough.

The No. 7 train will soon be going through another round of suspensions causing it to not run in parts of western Queens and Manhattan for more than a dozen weekends this year, starting in the end of February, according to a notice from the MTA.

This news again upset residents, business owners and local politicians who gathered in front of the Vernon Boulevard-Jackson Avenue subway station on Friday to tell the MTA they are fed up with the constant disruptions and the lack of notice.

“Real people’s lives are affected in real ways here, this is not a game,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. “This is about human beings, they’re trying to survive and the MTA is trying to kill us. We’ve got to stop this now.”

From February through July, there will be 13 weekend suspensions. Those dates are finalized, the transit agency said. There are nine tentative weekend shutdowns scheduled for August through November.

Business owners are tired of potential financial losses, residents are sick of longer commutes and local politicians just want the MTA to finally listen to their ideas and communicate with the neighborhood.

“It outrageous and all we are asking for is the opportunity to be heard, to present some common sense ideas that we have presented to them year after year after year,” said Senator Michael Gianaris, who has suggested the MTA offer a shuttle bus from Vernon Boulevard through the Queens Midtown Tunnel into the city. “The MTA needs to listen to us once and for all.”

Rebecca Trent, LIC resident and owner of The Creek and The Cave on Jackson Avenue, said the area has grown by 500 percent and the suspension will only make business owners’ jobs harder.

“I don’t know how I’m going to survive this, I do not know and neither do many of my neighbors,” Trent said holding back tears. “What they are trying to do to this neighborhood is disgusting, we deserve better, enough is enough.”

Along with the shuttle service through the Midtown tunnel, Trent also said that in order to compensate the Long Island City community for the “irresponsible shutdowns,” the MTA should give local businesses, who will suffer, free ad space at the E and G subway stations and on the trains.

Richard Mazda, artistic director for The Secret Theatre, said he has had to put up with the disruptions to his business every single year and has faced problems during the annual LIC Arts Open festival, with artists and friends not being able to attend.

“You must have known that you were going to do this work, you have stage managed the release of this information so that we couldn’t fight you, but we will,” Mazda said to the MTA. “This is like the worst movie you have ever seen.”

The latest round of work, including continued installation of Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC), replacement of critical track panels and reconstruction inside the Steinway Tube under the East River, is expected to modernize, improve a fortify the Flushing No. 7 line, according to the MTA. The work will also include tunnel duct reconstruction and replacement and improvements on components damaged during Superstorm Sandy.

“We understand that these service disruptions are inconvenient to the customers who depend on the No. 7 train and we appreciate their patience,” said MTA NYC Transit President Carmen Bianco. “We have made every effort to schedule these project simultaneously to get as much work done as we can during these periods.”

 

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Body of missing man who was staying with family in Queens found in Central Park Lake


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

The body of a missing 22-year-old college student visiting family in Jamaica was recovered from the Central Park Lake Wednesday after taking his own life, according to officials.

Aronno Haque was last seen Monday afternoon around Manhattan’s Union Square Park, police said.

After discovering his personal belongings near the lake, police searched the water for him Tuesday and Wednesday before finding his body, the NYPD said.

Among his belongings was a bag with a suicide note inside of it, police said. The Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed Thursday that he took his own life and said his cause of death was drowning.

Haque was attending Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Ind. and is a Bangladesh native, according to a Reddit post.

When on break from school, he stayed with family members in Queens, police said.

According to a Facebook page set up in his memory, Haque was an only child.

 

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Trio of local female filmmakers hope to make mark in movie industry


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Courtesy of graphic designer Alison Chin and photographer Ben Jarosch

A trio of female filmmakers has come together to create a unique film, as they look to become leaders in an industry started by men.

The all-female filmmaking team, made up of director, writer and lead actress Victoria Negri, and producers Effie Fradelos and Katie Maguire, has begun working on a film called “Gold Star.”

The film, which was written by 26-year-old Negri, who lives in Manhattan, is based on the story of a girl growing up and building a relationship with a father 65 years older than her.

“Gold Star,” expected to begin filming in mid-April, will star Negri as the lead role and is based on the writer’s real life experiences with her father, who passed away in 2012.

“I always hoped people would want to work on my film while I was writing it, but I don’t think I ever really imagined I’d have people equally enthusiastic about my passion project as I am,” said Negri. “It’s especially important for me to involve other female filmmakers because I think it’s important to make movies about women that are created by women.”

This movie is the first time the filmmakers have come together to create a completely female team working on a female story bringing audiences real emotions and experiences they can feel a connection to.

“It is important for females to dispel all of the false, preconceived notions that women cannot work together,” said Maguire, 34, from Brooklyn. “As the popularity of independent film is growing so is the number of female directors and producers. It is important that women stick together and help bring to life stories from a female perspective.”

The filmmakers are aware they are working in an industry founded by men, but they remain strong and plan on working hard to turn the industry into one led by women. The film also plans to serve as a model to other women looking to enter the film industry.

“We represent the everyday woman filmmaker,” said Fradelos, 26, born in Astoria and now living in Bayside. “I think if you’re a young girl or a woman and you want to break into the industry, stop looking for others to give you their hand, and do it yourself, most people need that push and as filmmakers we should all push each other.”

Casting for the film is underway and the team hopes to film the movie in Connecticut and New York.

To raise money for the preproduction of the film, the filmmakers will hold a fundraiser on Tuesday, January 28 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Esperanto N.Y.C., located at 145 Avenue C in Manhattan. There will be a $20 entry fee to the event which will feature drinks, a raffle and live music.

The film is expected to be completed by the fall of 2014. To learn more about “Gold Star” and the female filmmakers you can visit the official website, Facebook page or follow @GoldStarFilm on Twitter.

 

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Tech company Aereo moves out of LIC base, heads to Manhattan


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/@Aereo

Technology startup Aereo is leaving its Long Island City headquarters for a bigger space in Manhattan, the company announced Friday.

“Moving day! We’ve outgrown our space in #LIC. Heading across the river to new digs. We love ‘ya #Queens!” Aereo posted on its Twitter account Dec. 20, along with a photo of its packed up office.

Launched last February, Aereo enables customers to view live and recorded broadcast TV on Internet-connected devices.

The company, sued by major broadcasters for copyright infringement, is undergoing a legal battle that may go to the US Supreme Court.

“We are unwavering in our belief that Aereo’s technology falls squarely within the law and we look forward to continuing to delight our customers,” Founder and CEO Chet Kanojia said in a statement last Thursday.

The company’s Twitter account said more updates on the expansion are coming soon.

The growing online TV service company was based out of 37-18 Northern Boulevard in Long Island City and has another headquarters in Boston. It also maintains an office and operations facility in Brooklyn, an Aereo spokesperson said.

The company, which employs more than 100 people, is expanding its national presence and launched in Baltimore this week.

A leader in the Queens technology community said the move might have been caused by the lack of affordable commercial office space in Long Island City.

“That’s something we need for the tech community to grow here,” said Jukay Hsu, founder of Coalition for Queens. “They’re an extremely innovative and fast-growing tech company. I know they were looking for more space. Unfortunately, they couldn’t find it here in Long Island City.”

Coalition for Queens is a nonprofit, looking to transform the borough into a leading hub of innovation and entrepreneurship.

“I’m very sad to see them to go. They’re a great company, really forward thinking. We would have loved to keep them here in Queens,” Hsu said.

 

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Cops searching for suspect in Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn jewelry store robberies


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo and video courtesy of NYPD

Police are looking to identify a suspect wanted in connection to seven jewelry store robberies across the city, including three in Queens.

During each robbery, the suspect enters the store, armed with a handgun, and two to three additional suspects jump over the counter and take the jewelry, said cops. No injuries were reported during any of the incidents.

The robberies happened at the following locations and times:

  • 169 Canal Street in Manhattan on September 10 at 4:15 p.m.
  • 5914 8th Avenue in Brooklyn on October 15at 6:45 p.m.
  • 66 East Broadway in Manhattan October 17, at 6:35 p.m. and on October 18 at 4:30 p.m.
  • 37-58 103rd Street in the Corona section of Queens on October 28 at 7:50 p.m.
  • 74-15 37th Avenue in the Jackson Heights section of Queens on October 31 at 6:35 p.m.
  • 37-11 Main Street in the Flushing section of Queens on November 9 at 5:55 p.m.

Police describe the suspect as a Hispanic male and have released video footage of him.

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

 

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Suspect sought in five Queens, Manhattan store robberies


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYPD

Cops are looking for a man wanted in a string of store robberies in Queens and Manhattan.

During each incident, the suspect enters the business, simulates a firearm inside a black plastic bag and demands cash, according to police.

The first robbery occurred on Tuesday, August 6, at approximately 7 p.m. at a Metro PCS, located at 61-01 Woodside Avenue. The suspect also hit another Queens business, Pasticceria Amore, at 107-06 71st Road, on Friday, August 9, around 9:40 p.m.

The other three incidents occurred in Manhattan over the last week. Police have released photos of the suspect from one of those robberies, which occurred on Thursday, August 8 at about 2 a.m. at the OK Market on Madison Avenue near East 92nd Street.

Authorities said the suspect was wearing a black Oakland Raiders baseball cap, black shirt and sunglasses during all of the robberies. He is described as having a scar on the right side of his face and tattoos with lettering on his right and left arms.

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

 

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Suspects sought in string of citywide robberies


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYPD

Police are looking for the suspects responsible for a string of robberies in Queens and Manhattan.

The thieves, both males and females, have robbed a number of victims at gunpoint in the two boroughs at least eight separate times, authorities said.

They usually work in pairs and have a pattern of approaching unsuspecting victims, displaying either a firearm or knife, and then demanding their possessions — often their PIN numbers, too — before fleeing, police said.

Two black males took a woman’s purse and jewelry at gunpoint during the first instance on June 29. The robbery took place near Slocum Crescent and Greenway Terrace.

The next day, a 24-year-old female victim entered a four-door sedan, which she believed to be a cab, and was robbed by three black women inside the vehicle. They took her purse, debit card and demanded her PIN number before dropping her off in front of 467 West 49th Street, police said.

The crimes continue up until at least July 5, when a black female robbed a 33-year-old man in Manhattan near Perry Street and Hudson Street at gunpoint. She demanded the PIN number to his debit card and robbed him of his belongings before fleeing.

A victim’s hands were bound by a cord, in one instance, while two suspects withdrew money from his account at a nearby ATM, police said.

Authorities say both male and female suspects are black and in their early to mid 20s.

One female is about 5-feet-8, between 180 and 190 pounds, while the other is 5-feet-2, between 110 and 115 pounds.

One male suspect is about 6-feet, 180 pounds and the other is described as 5-feet-5.

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

 

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Overnight service disruptions on N, Q, R trains this week


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File photo

Starting Monday night, there will be service disruptions on the N, Q and R trains between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m for four consecutive weeknights, as part of the MTA’s Fastrack maintenance program:

  • N trains run in Queens and Brooklyn only.
  • Q trains run in Brooklyn and are rerouted via the D line in Manhattan.
  • R service ends early in Manhattan and Queens each night. (R shuttle service between 95th Street and 36th Street, Brooklyn runs all night.)

Travel alternatives

  • In Queens, take the M (or E local) instead of the R.
  • Take the 7 for service between Queens and Manhattan.
  • In Manhattan, use nearby stations on the 8th Avenue (A, E), 7th Avenue (1, 2) 6th Avenue (D, F, Q) and Lexington Avenue (4, 6) Lines.
  • Take the 2, 4, D, F or Q between Manhattan and Brooklyn.
  • N trains make local R stops between Jay Street-MetroTech and 36th Street.

Police arrest man connected to citywide grand larceny spree


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

suspects

Authorities have arrested a man tied to a robbery spree where the suspects trick victims by telling them they have a flat tire, then steal property from inside their vehicles.

Mario Gutierrez, 50 of College Point, has been charged with grand larceny for four out of 13 incidents that occurred in Queens.

Two additional robberies in Brooklyn and one in Manhattan are connected to those crimes.

 

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Robbers wanted in flat tire scheme in three boroughs


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

grand larcenies

Police have connected four recent grand larcenies throughout the city to 12 more that took place in Queens between August and February.

During each incident, victims are approached by one of the three suspects who distracts the victims usually by informing them that their cars have a flat tire. When the victims go to inspect the damage, the other suspects removes property from inside of the vehicles.

Two of the recent robberies occurred in Brooklyn, one was in Manhattan and the fourth was in Queens on Saturday, March 23 near 101st Avenue and 121st Street.

The suspects were caught on video during a grand larceny that took place at approximately 4 p.m. on Thursday, February 28 in a parking lot along Northern Boulevard, and the most recent incident on March 27, at about 12:35 p.m. near Withers Street and Union Avenue in Brooklyn.

Anyone with information in regards 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.

 

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Districting commission files final map for approval


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

The lines have been drawn and they’re staying.

New York City’s Districting Commission filed Monday, March 4 its final map to the City Clerk for approval. The final of three drafts had been submitted to the City Council on February 8, after which the legislature had three weeks to vote or the new districts would automatically be adopted.

And that’s just what happened.

The Commission will now file the map with the Department of Justice, who will have 60 days to ensure the plan is kosher with Section 5 the Voting Rights Act. Brooklyn, the Bronx and Manhattan are all covered under this part of the law to ensure that minority voting rights are ensured and protected.

There are 35 minority districts in the city under the new plan, according to the Districting Commission, in which racial and language minorities are the dominate block in the district. This is a five district increase from the 30 of such created in 2003.

 

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