Tag Archives: Mark Weprin

David Weprin won’t run for brother’s City Council seat


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

File photos

There won’t be another Weprin switcheroo at City Hall.

Assemblyman David Weprin ruled out a run last week for the City Council seat that his brother, Mark Weprin, will vacate soon in order to become Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s deputy secretary of legislative affairs, according to a spokesperson for the assemblyman. David Weprin will instead seek re-election in 2016.

The Weprin brothers previously traded legislative seats. David Weprin occupied the 23rd City Council seat for eight years before making a failed run for city comptroller in 2009. Mark Weprin — then occupying the Assembly seat previously held by their late father, Assembly Speaker Saul Weprin — ran for and won his brother’s City Council seat.

After Mark Weprin stepped down from the Assembly to become city councilman, David Weprin won his brother’s and his father’s former Assembly seat in a 2010 special election.

Many observers believed David Weprin would jump at the chance of returning to City Hall after Mark Weprin announced his resignation from the City Council on May 11. According to the New York Observer, David Weprin told supporters on May 14 he would stay in Albany, noting that he was recently promoted to the Assembly’s leadership by current Speaker Carl Heastie.

“I’ve decided that I plan on running for re-election to the Assembly,” David Weprin was quoted in the Observer article. “I’ve enjoyed what I’ve accomplished so far in the Assembly. I think I have a lot more to do. I’ve developed a lot of seniority in a short time — a lot of people have left.”

Once Mark Weprin’s City Council resignation takes effect, Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to call a special non-partisan election to be held within the following 60 days. Each candidate must obtain their own ballot line; political parties cannot nominate a candidate, but may make endorsements.

Former Assemblyman and Deputy Queens Borough President Barry Grodenchik already confirmed his interest in the race. Other potential candidates include Dominic Panakal, chief-of-staff to Councilman Rory Lancman; attorney Ali Najmi; and former City Council candidates Bob Friedrich and Steven Behar.

The 23rd Council seat covers all or parts of Bayside Hills, Bellerose, Douglaston, Floral Park, Fresh Meadows, Glen Oaks, Hollis, Hollis Hills, Hollis Park Gardens, Holliswood, Little Neck, New Hyde Park, Oakland Gardens and Queens Village.

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Councilman Weprin to leave seat for Cuomo administration


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/file photo

Updated Tuesday, May 12, 12:35 p.m.

Councilman Mark Weprin gave his two weeks’ notice to the people of his district Monday, as he announced his departure from the City Council to take a job with Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Weprin, 53, who has served in the 23rd Council District seat since 2010, is poised to become Cuomo’s deputy secretary of legislative affairs. He didn’t set a specific date when he would leave office, but in a statement, Weprin indicated his resignation would take effect “within the next two weeks.”

Prior to his City Council election, Weprin served for 15 years in the state Assembly, holding the seat previously held by his late father, former Assembly Speaker Saul Weprin. Mark Weprin was elected to the City Council seat in 2009 to succeed his brother, David, who made an unsuccessful run for City Comptroller.

David Weprin then won a special election in 2010 for his brother’s and father’s former Assembly seat.

“It has been an honor to represent eastern Queens as an elected official for 21 years,” Mark Weprin said in a statement Monday morning. “It has been my privilege to serve the people and families of my neighborhood. I am proud to have helped the communities I have represented to continue to be wonderful places to live, work and raise a family.”

At the start of his second City Council term, Mark Weprin was elected in January 2014 as chair of the City Council’s Queens delegation. He was also named chair of the Zoning and Franchises Committee and serves on the Land Use, Education, Economic Development, Oversight and Investigations, and Technology committees.

As deputy secretary for legislative affairs, Mark Weprin will reportedly serve as a liaison between Cuomo and leaders of the Assembly and state Senate on various matters.

“I have known Governor Cuomo for most of my life, and he is a leader of incredible talent,” Weprin added. “I look forward to this next step in my public career.”

Once the councilman’s resignation takes effect, the mayor must call for a non-partisan special election to be held within 60 days. Each candidate must secure their own party line; the established political parties cannot nominate a candidate of their own, but they may make an endorsement.

The 23rd Council District includes all or parts of Bayside Hills, Bellerose, Douglaston, Floral Park, Fresh Meadows, Glen Oaks, Hollis, Hollis Hills, Hollis Park Gardens, Holliswood, Little Neck, New Hyde Park, Oakland Gardens and Queens Village.

As for who may replace Weprin in the City Council, one contender has already emerged — former Assemblyman and Deputy Queens Borough President Barry Grodenchik. He confirmed his interest in running for the seat in a phone interview with The Courier on Tuesday.

Other potential contenders, as reported in the New York Observer, include Dominic Panakal, chief-of-staff to Councilman Rory Lancman; local attorney Ali Najmi; civic activist and former City Council candidate Bob Friedrich; and former City Council and Assembly candidate Steve Behar.

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Participatory budget projects announced in districts 19 and 23


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alina Suriel

Councilmen in northeast Queens announced the winning projects to be funded with their participatory budgeting allowances, a democratic process in which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget.

Councilman Paul Vallone announced the four winning projects from District 19 in a press conference in his Bell Boulevard office on Monday, with a crowd of community members waiting on his every word to see if their favored project would be chosen. This year 2,300 votes were cast the district.

The project that received the most votes in District 19 was to build a state-of-the-art music studio for Bayside High School for $400,000. The proposal received 1,430 votes, and will serve 350 students in the school’s “Career and Technical Education” program for music production and performance.

“Participatory budgeting was a great experience for our students and we look forward to the positive effect the new music studio will provide to our academic programming,” said John Hirata, Bayside High School assistant principal of operations.

An auditorium upgrade for P.S. 169 received the most votes after the Bayside High School music studio with a total of 1,041, and will also cost $400,000. The elementary school will receive replacements in lighting, curtains, seating and a sound system for the auditorium that students share with middle school Bell Academy.

“We are so thrilled to have this auditorium upgrade because both our schools really need it,” said Orit Foresta, a parent coordinator at P.S. 169. “We do a lot of arts, a lot of shows in our schools.”

The other two projects to be funded in District 19 are $90,000 in technology upgrades for P.S. 159 and the installation of three NYPD security cameras throughout the district for $105,000.

Photo courtesy of Mark Weprin's office

Photo courtesy of Mark Weprin’s office

Councilman Mark Weprin announced the winning participatory budget proposals for District 23 on Friday, April 24. Weprin was one of the first eight City Council members to offer participatory budgets to constituents in 2012, the initiative’s first year. Twenty-four districts have since adopted the process.

“It is my hope that next year, more of my colleagues embrace participatory budgeting,” Councilman Weprin said. “It’s a great way to get community residents involved — especially those who may not be actively involved in the political process.”

A District 23 proposal with 1,146 votes received the most support, and will see $455,000 in technology upgrades coming to nine local schools. All of the schools serve children at elementary grade levels except for one, the Queens High School of Teaching.

A entry for fitness equipment at Alley Pond Park was in second place for most votes in District 23, with a total of 1,065 voting in favor of the $450,000 project. The last proposal to be funded is a plan to use $300,000 for renovations at the physical education facilities of Benjamin N. Cardozo High School in Bayside and Martin Van Buren High School in Queens Village.

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Cunningham Park field dedicated to late Little League president


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Councilman Rory Lancman

Heroes get remembered, but legends never die, and Marc Katz’s memory will live on forever in Cunningham Park.

Councilmen Rory Lancman and Mark Weprin joined the Parks Department in dedicating a baseball field in Cunningham Park on Sunday to the memory of Katz, the late founder of the Jewish Community Little League.

Katz served as the president of the Jewish Community Little League from its founding in 1988 until his death in 2014. He had previously served as the president of the Young Israel of Hillcrest synagogue and as a member of the Community Board 8.

Lancman emphasized the enormity of Katz’s service in the community.

“Marc Katz was a pillar of our community,” Lancman said. “I cannot think of a better way to honor his memory than to dedicate a plaque at the field where he spent countless hours with our children.”

The Jewish Community League was founded so that Orthodox Jewish children and Sabbath observers could have an opportunity to play baseball in an organized league. These children may not be able to participate in many other youth baseball leagues as they typically would have some games on Saturday, the Jewish sabbath.

Weprin highlighted the impact Katz had on the lives of local children.

“This is a great tribute to the Katz family and the work Marc Katz did for all of us, all the kids, to make sure they had a place to play baseball,” said Weprin.

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Proposed carriage horse ban finds strongest opposition among city lawmakers from Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Ricardo Zappala/Flickr Creative Commons

Opponents of a controversial bill that would ban carriage horses in the city can count on lawmakers from Queens as their biggest group of allies in the City Council.

Among the 14 council members from Queens, six have announced they will be voting against the bill that was introduced on Dec. 8 at City Hall. Only two Queens lawmakers are backing the bill and the other six remain undecided as of the night of Dec. 9.

“We are not going to be fooled by those who say that banning horse-drawn carriages is an animal rights issue. This is about political promises and money,” said Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, who joined a rally by carriage drivers and union leaders on City Hall steps on Dec. 8 before the bill was introduced.

“Banning the horse carriage industry would harm tourism, leave hundreds of families without jobs, and condemn these beautiful horses to join the tens of thousands of unwanted American horses that are sold each year to slaughterhouses and glue factories,” Crowley said.

Lawmakers from Queens who oppose the bill are Costa Constantinides, Mark Weprin, Rory Lancman, Daneek Miller, Karen Koslowitz and Crowley.

Supporting the bill to ban carriage horses are Paul Vallone and Daniel Dromm, who is one of the co-sponsors. Peter Koo, Erick Ulrich, Ruben Wills, Donovan Richards and Jimmy Van Bramer have yet to make up their minds.

Dromm repeated his support of the measure, issuing a joint statement with Manhattan Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, after the bill was introduced in the Transportation Committee, saying the measure “will increase the welfare of our horses by taking them off of our streets and to a safe haven where they can thrive.”

The effort to ban carriage horses is being fought tooth and nail by the roughly 350 drivers and other workers involved in the business and several labor unions.

If approved, the legislation would ban the use of horses in the city by 2016. In a bid to create new jobs for the carriage drivers, the city would offer free training and the right to get at the front of the line for a green-cab license, without having to pay the $6,000 fee.
The bill also would fine any of the horse owners $25,000 if they sell their horses for the “purpose of slaughter.”

But Crowley says the measures aren’t enough to help drivers and stable hands who would be out of work.

“We need to be realistic about what is being proposed: 300 New Yorkers could be unemployed at the stroke of a pen,” she said in a letter released this week. “Not only are these good jobs, they are union jobs. We cannot forget that labor unions have been an essential force in increasing and protecting the middle class.”

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Op-ed: Solutions to increasing diversity without changing the SHSAT


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

By COUNCILMAN MARK WEPRIN 

Recently, there has been a lot of talk about changing the admissions process for New York City’s specialized high schools in order to address the underrepresentation of black and Latino students. While I embrace the goal of increasing diversity within those schools, I am not convinced that changing the exam or the admission standards is the best way to diversify the student population.

Seventy percent of the city’s public school students are black or Latino. Nonetheless, last year, only six percent of students at specialized high schools were black and only seven percent were Latino. It is clearly problematic that the diversity of students at these specialized high schools is not representative of the city.

The underlying reasons for this discrepancy are that black and Latino students are not taking the exam as frequently as are Asian and white students, and many of those black and Latino students taking the specialized high school admissions test (SHSAT) are not preparing as well as Asian and white students.

Only 45 percent of students taking the SHSAT for admission to the 2012-2013 freshman class were black or Latino. Black students comprised 23 percent of test-takers, and only six percent of those students were offered seats. Similarly, Latinos comprised 22 percent of test-takers, but just eight percent of admitted students. This data points to two problems: a lack of access to the test and insufficient educational resources in communities where black and Latino students live.

The best way to make strides toward closing this racial gap is to make the exam more accessible for all New York City students. The SHSAT should be offered, if not mandated, at all the city’s middle schools during regular school hours. It should be administered as PSAT is — with all students sitting for the test unless they opt out. I am confident that by encouraging all middle school students to take the test and by making it easier for them to do so, we will begin to tackle the disparity in a way that is equitable for the entire city.

Many students prepare for the SHSAT far in advance, due in large part because the educational resources are available to them. To increase diversity in the specialized high schools, we should also be searching for ways to bring free test preparation programs, such as the Discovery Program and Specialized High Schools Institute Dream Program, into middle schools that rarely send graduates to the specialized high schools. Additionally, data has shown that the elementary and middle schools that students attend greatly impact their odds of being well prepared to take the SHSAT. In many neighborhoods with large concentrations of black and Latino residents, there are fewer gifted and talented programs available. We need to bring these programs into struggling schools.

There are better ways to increase diversity in New York City’s specialized high schools. Let’s try alternate solutions before we scrap an admissions process that has been in place for more than 70 years.

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E. Gluck Corp. to lower giant Little Neck wall following protest


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre


Watch-maker E. Gluck Corporation will lower a newly-built, giant 36-foot wall, which surprised and disturbed residents near the company’s new location, Little Neck politicians announced.

Under the new design, which has been approved by the Buildings Department, the wall will be scaled down 14 feet to 22 feet, the company said Monday. In addition, E. Gluck will include 20 flowering pear trees and 75 white pine trees around the property at 60-15 Little Neck Pkwy.

“We are pleased to reach a solution that addresses the public’s concerns,” said Murray Stimler, senior vice president at E. Gluck. “Our goal is to be a good neighbor in Little Neck and a beneficial part of the community for many years to come.”

Last month, Assemblyman Ed Braunstein, Councilman Mark Weprin and state Sen. Tony Avella protested the wall with more than 100 residents. The current height blocks sunlight after certain hours and residents were afraid that it would hurt property values.

E. Gluck is moving this year into the lot, which is being developed by Steel Tribune LLC, and is the former site of electrical wiring company Leviton.

Initially, E. Gluck promised to put a one-story warehouse on the site, according to politicians. But residents woke up one day to find the towering dark gray wall, which sits on a hill that is about 10 feet high off the curb and extends nearly halfway through the block. The solution to lower the wall was welcome news for the elected officials.

“I appreciate that E. Gluck is making changes to its building plans to address some of the concerns raised by their neighbors and elected officials,” Braunstein said. “I am hopeful that moving forward the company will continue to make efforts to ensure that its operations do not negatively impact the surrounding community.”

 

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Schools, security improvements win Weprin participatory budgeting


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Follow me @liamlaguerre

 

Schools and security improvement community projects in District 23 are winners of more than $1.1 million in city funding after participatory budgeting voting.

Councilman Mark Weprin announced results Wednesday of the initiative, which allows residents to vote for which community projects their elected officials should allocate money toward.

The top voted project—at 1,166 votes—was smart boards for five schools throughout the district at a cost of $450,000. P.S. 33 will get 40 smart boards, I.S. 109 will get 20, P.S./I.S. 266 will get 15, Benjamin Cardozo High School will receive five and Queens High School of Teaching will get 20.

“We’re ecstatic,” said Jae Cho, principal of Queens High School of Teaching. “Our kids are going to benefit tremendously from it.”

Technology upgrades at two schools, P.S. 135 and P.S. 18, for a cost of $85,785 got fourth place with 699 votes.

Besides schools projects, security initiatives were also popular.

NYPD security cameras within the district, for a cost of $105,000, received 718 votes for third place. The locations for the cameras have yet to be determined. Security upgrades for the Fresh Meadows, Hollis, and Windsor Park Queens Library branches, at $265,000, were the final winners with 671 votes.

A fitness walk and exercise loop at Cunningham Park for $200,000 came in second with 875 votes.

Originally, the initiative allowed for just $1 million, but the voted projects sum went over the limit, so Weprin added an additional $105,785.

This year, 1,888 people from the district voted, an increase of about 60 percent from last year.

“I think it’s great,” Weprin said. “When people get involved in their government they have more respect for their government.”

 

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Residents in three Queens council districts to vote on community projects


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Residents of three Queens City Council districts will soon have a chance to decide what projects they want funded in their communities.

Launched in 2011 in four Council districts, participatory budgeting allows locals to determine how to spend at least $1 million of their councilmembers’ capital discretionary funds.

This year’s round of projects is up for a vote from March 29 to April 6 in eight districts, including Councilmember Mark Weprin’s District 23, Councilmember Donovan Richards District 31 and Eric Ulrich’s District 32.

The process begins in the fall at public meetings where residents can suggest ideas and choose budget delegates. Those selected volunteers then come up with proposals based on those suggestions, which are presented to the public ahead of the vote.

Last spring, approximately 13,000 people voted, an increase of about 7,000 from the previous year. Each voter can chose up to five projects.

“I am excited to make full use of the Democratic process and offer our district the opportunity to decide where $1 million of my budget should be spent,” said Councilmember Richards, who is participating in the process for the first time. “It’s important that we all understand how our local government can and should improve our communities.”

Among his district’s projects are education, youth, public safety and recreation related improvements. They include upgrades to the Far Rockaway Campus High School, Farm Rockaway and the installation of Argus surveillance cameras in various areas of Far Rockaway.

Residents in Weprin’s district will be able to vote on $1 million in projects ranging from library security upgrades, park improvements, school technology needs and $100,000 in portable security cameras in the community.

Projects in the Rockaway portion of Ulrich’s district include $320,00 in upgrades and improvements to local schools, resurfacing of Broad Channel Park and community information boards in the Rockaways and Broad Channel. The project list for the rest of the councilmember’s district is still being finalized.

For more information on the projects and how to vote, click here.

 

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Local leaders applaud city’s call to save Gifted & Talented seats


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Local leaders are hailing the city’s decision to allow all District 26 elementary school students enrolled in Gifted & Talented (G&T) programs to be grandfathered into middle school programs.

“There is no more important issue in our community than the education of our students,” said Assemblymember Nily Rozic. “The new policy reflects the children and parents in District 26 and will allow families to focus on getting their children off to a strong start in middle school.”

Parents were outraged when they learned students would no longer be automatically accepted into their local middle school G&T programs.

Fifth grade students would have to submit applications and seek admission to middle school G&T programs based on their fourth grade New York State ELA and math scores, the Department of Education (DOE) previously said.

More than 750 people signed an online petition, protesting the abrupt change.

“The Gifted and Talented programs in our schools are vitally important to the education of our students,” said Congressmember Grace Meng. “After listening closely to the needs of parents, the community, and elected officials, I applaud the Department of Education for its decision to add more G&T seats in District 26 as well as allow current students through fifth grade to remain in the program.”

According to Councilmember Mark Weprin, the DOE will also create more middle school G&T programs for high-performing general education students.

“With the opening of additional classes for incoming students who qualify for the program, the agreement is good news for parents across the district,” he said.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Friday: Overcast with rain showers. High of 61. Winds from the WSW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 60%. Friday night: Overcast with a chance of rain. Low of 37. Winds from the WNW at 5 to 20 mph. Chance of rain 50%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Fall Festival: Free Film Screening and Community Health Fair

Come to a free community health fair and film screening of “A Place at the Table” with special guest Joel Berg Harvest Room in the Jamaica Market from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to bring canned goods for a Thanksgiving Food Drive. Snacks from the Jamaica Farmers’ Market will also be provided! Sponsored by the Neighborhood Hunger Network. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Mayor Bloomberg: Mayor-Elect de Blasio to get balanced budget

For the first time in decades, an incoming New York City mayor will not face a budget deficit. Read more: CBS New York/AP

NYPD asks bars to not serve ‘SantaCon’ participants

There may be a little less “jolly” in Santa’s sleigh this year, at least if the NYPD has its way. Read more: ABC New York

Weprin goes to bat for Mariano Rivera street

At least one candidate for council speaker is going to bat for Yankee great Mariano Rivera. Read more: New York Post

NFL embraces possibility of snowy Super Bowl

Instead of shrinking from the possibility that football’s ultimate game could be played in a blizzard, organizers of the first outdoor, cold-climate Super Bowl have decided to embrace the snow as the game’s unofficial theme. Read more: NBC New York

JFK assassination remembered 50 years later

Fifty years after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, thousands will mark the day with a solemn ceremony in Dealey Plaza, through which the president’s motorcade passed when shots rang out. Read more: AP

Weprin vies to become next Council speaker


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

It’s off to the races for six legislators looking to become the next City Council speaker.

Councilmembers Melissa Mark-Viverito, Inez Dickens, Dan Garodnick, James Vacca, Anabel Palma and Mark Weprin are vying to replace incumbent-Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who is term-limited.

Quinn was voted to lead the Council, the city’s de facto second most powerful office, in 2005.

Weprin, the top Queens candidate in the race, was elected to the Council in 2009 after 15 years in the Assembly. He is campaigning on a promise that he will not run for higher office and is not term-limited in 2017.

“I am not running for the mayor of the City of New York,” Weprin told The Courier. “I can spend all my time being the best speaker I can be. I think one thing that has been lacking in previous speakers is they have all been running for higher office.”

Mark-Viverito, an ally to Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, is considered a top contender for the seat.
Candidates have been taking part in forums throughout the city, though councilmembers will internally vote on a new speaker January 4.

 

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Council vote OKs Bayside school on Keil Bros. site


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A controversial proposal to build a school in Bayside sailed through the City Council last week, despite the community’s overwhelming opposition.

The city’s School Construction Authority (SCA) needed the Council’s final ruling in order to go through with plans to build a new elementary school at the site of the Keil Bros. Garden Center and Nursery.

Owners of the popular garden center sold their 210-11 48th Avenue property to the city for an undisclosed amount earlier this year.

The City Council approved the application last Thursday, with only Queens legislators Mark Weprin and Peter Vallone Jr. voting no.

“I had opposed the school because I didn’t think it was the best site for a school to begin with,” Weprin said. “I wasn’t even convinced about the need for the school.”

Nearby homeowners said the 456-seat institution would destroy their quality of life, worsen parking and traffic and lead to dangerous crossing conditions for students.

The contentious plan even led to two rowdy residents threatening SCA officials in May, when the proposal was first presented to the public at a heated Community Board 11 meeting.

The board had just shot down the application in an advisory vote when a male resident threatened to break an SCA representative’s legs and a woman allegedly followed another official in a car, The Courier reported.

“The community is very much against it,” Weprin said. “The Department of Education decided we needed a school there. I haven’t met anybody in the community who is dying to have a school there.”

But many local educators who support the plan said the new school would relieve heavy congestion in the district’s 21 elementary schools. At least three schools have had to put classrooms in space originally meant for libraries or music rooms, according to Susan Seinfeld, district manager of CB 11.

The SCA said its site selection process began in 2008. The authority honed in on the Bayside location this April. The DOE did not comment on when construction would begin.

Meanwhile, a battle still brews between the district’s state senator and its new councilmember.

State Senator Tony Avella claims Councilmember-elect Paul Vallone snubbed the community by supporting the proposal behind closed doors.

Vallone, who does not cast a Council vote until January, has “never voiced support for the school site,” his spokesperson said.

“Tony must not have gotten the memo — he’s not the councilman anymore,” said spokesperson Austin Finan. “Moving forward, Paul Vallone will not be responding to the lies perpetuated by Senator Avella who has clearly demonstrated he is more focused on personal vendettas than he is the future of northeast Queens.”

 

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City Council incumbents Weprin, Crowley miss DC 37 union endorsement


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photos

Two City Council incumbents from Queens were not endorsed by the city’s largest public employee union because they did not apply for the nod, the union said.

DC 37 released its endorsements for the November general election last Wednesday, which included multiple sitting councilmembers in the borough and candidates who won primaries in September.

Left off the Queens list were Speaker-hopeful Mark Weprin and Elizabeth Crowley — both who are Democrats, facing fairly easy challenges for re-election in a blue-dominated borough.

The pair joins a handful of city incumbents who were not endorsed because they did not apply to be part of DC 37’s long-established screening process, according to Wanda Williams, the union’s political and legislative director.

The list includes City Council incumbents Dan Garodnick, Maria del Carmen Arroyo, Annabel Palma, Brad Lander and David Greenfield.

“The lack of an endorsement should not be construed as a commentary on their performance but as a reflection of their decision not to submit themselves to our rigorous screening process,” Williams said.

“Only the kind of transparent and rigorous screening process we have adopted assures we give all candidates a fair hearing they have initiated,” she added.

Weprin said he was unaware of the union’s screening policy. He was also running unopposed until August.

“We didn’t really reach out since I didn’t have an opponent until the summer,” he said. “This year, I certainly would have loved their endorsement. They are certainly a valuable and important union to me. I don’t take offense at it. I just wasn’t aware of the process. No hard feelings.”

Crowley did not comment.

Contested Queens incumbents who enjoy the union’s backing this year include Peter Koo, Karen Koslowitz, Eric Ulrich, Ruben Wills and Donovan Richards.

DC 37 also endorsed unchallenged incumbents Julissa Ferreras, Danny Dromm and Jimmy Van Bramer and primary winners Paul Vallone, Rory Lancman, Daneek Miller and Melinda Katz.

The municipal workers’ union, which has 121,000 members and 50,000 retirees, said it sends out an army of volunteers to work phone banks and do door-to-door “Get Out The Vote” operations.

 

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Op-Ed: Community Safety Act: Setting the record straight


| oped@queenscourier.com

COUNCILMEMBER MARK S. WEPRIN

There has recently been a great deal of heated discussion about the two bills that comprise the Community Safety Act (Introductions 1079 and 1080), which the New York City Council passed in late June.  New Yorkers have been receiving some false information on these bills, so I think the time has come to calm down and look at the facts.

Introduction 1080 does not prevent police officers from using stop-and-frisk.  Police profiling based on race and other categories is already unlawful, based on a 2004 bill signed by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.  Yet under both current law and Introduction 1080, police officers can include race, gender, age and other relevant information when pursuing criminal suspects.

While Introduction 1080 does not eliminate or alter stop-and-frisk, it does address bias-based profiling.  This has become an epidemic over the past decade, all because of Bloomberg’s insistence that officers conduct an increasing number of quota-driven stops. Every day I hear unsettling stories of local residents, law-abiding taxpayers, being stopped on the street in their own neighborhoods for no apparent reason. Stops increased by a jarring seven hundred percent from 2002 to 2011 without a corresponding drop in gun violence.  Introduction 1080 will not prevent police officers from stopping people, but it does reiterate that officers must have a law enforcement basis for a stop.

It has been suggested that Introduction 1080 opens the door to frivolous lawsuits, but when other states enacted similar laws, the numbers of lawsuits did not significantly increase.  Additionally, plaintiffs in New York City cannot seek monetary damages under the bill, nor can they sue individual officers.  Instead, if policies are discriminatory or ineffective, individuals can sue to have those policies changed.  By prompting the abandonment of wasteful practices, Introduction 1080 will actually save the city millions of dollars.

Finally, Introduction 1079 simply allows the New York City Department of Investigation to have oversight of the New York City Police Department (NYPD).  Almost all city agencies have Inspectors General, as do federal departments like the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigations.  Those agencies are not held back by Inspectors General, and the NYPD will not be either.

I have enormous respect for the work of the NYPD, and I would never vote for a law that would put New Yorkers in harm’s way or allow crime levels to increase.  On the contrary, I supported these bills because I believe they will make our city safer for all residents.

Mark Weprin was elected to the New York City Council in 2010, as the representative for District 23, covering Hollis Hills, Queens Village, Little Neck, Douglaston, Bayside, Bellerose, Floral Park, Glen Oaks, New Hyde Park, Hollis, Hollis Park Gardens, Holliswood, Fresh Meadows, and Oakland Gardens.

 

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