Tag Archives: Mayor de Blasio

Build it Back numbers improve in Howard Beach


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Even though residents of Howard Beach have been frustrated with the Build it Back process, numbers are moving in the right direction for the neighborhood.

On Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that there have been 535 construction starts and that 543 reimbursement checks have been distributed to Hurricane Sandy victims in the city, thus exceeding his Labor Day goals of 500 constructions starts and 500 checks handed out.

On a smaller level, numbers in area code 11414, which includes Lindenwood, Howard Beach, Old Howard Beach and Hamilton Beach, are also on the rise.

Out of the approximate 1,200 active Build it Back applicants in 11414, 95 have received checks and 60 have started construction, according to a representative from the mayor’s office. There are also 139 applicants who have finished construction plan consultations and 564 who have formally been made an assessment offer, the representative added.

These numbers were at zero in the beginning of the year.

Over the past few months, the mayor’s office has overhauled the Build it Back process, allowing applications to move more fluidly through the program.

This overhaul includes putting senior city staff members in charge of Build it Back centers and case management, and allowing homeowners to consult with designers and architects earlier in the process, making construction scheduling easier, the representative said.

“It was simply unacceptable that not a single homeowner had gotten relief as of the beginning of this year,” de Blasio said. “We know there’s much more work ahead — and we’re committed to continuing to speed up recovery so that every homeowner gets the relief they need.”

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Op-ed: New Inspector General has a tough job ahead


| oped@queenscourier.com

COUNCILMAN RORY LANCMAN

Philip Eure, New York City’s first New York Police Department Inspector General, has a tough job ahead of him — to make sure that the New York City Police Department is using best practices to keep us safe from a myriad of threats without compromising our civil liberties. I intend to work closely with my fellow members of the City Council to monitor his work and ensure that he is helping the police department accomplish both of these objectives.

As the new IG, Mr. Eure will provide oversight of some of the City’s most controversial policing practices, in order to build mutual respect between citizens and the police. The City Council voted to establish the Inspector General’s role last year, shortly after it became clear that the breadth of the City’s stop-and-frisk and Muslim surveillance programs were both divisive and, in the case of stop-and-frisk, unlawful. Appointed by the Department of Investigations Commissioner Mark Peters, Eure’s role is to act as an independent monitor to the NYPD, reviewing the department’s policies, procedures and practices in broad strokes.

Mr. Eure, who headed the District of Columbia’s Office of Police Complaints, has a balanced record of oversight. During his tenure there, he addressed warrantless searches, convinced the District’s police department to adopt a one-week training program to teach officers best practices for interacting with the mentally ill (a relevant problem to New York’s own growing population of mentally ill offenders), and tightened up on “contempt of cop” cases (frivolous claims brought against police just trying to do their job).

However, New York is a city of unique challenges. New York employs a substantially larger police force than the District of Columbia (35,000 to 4,000, respectively), and serves what is the most diverse and concentrated urban population nationwide. The City has already taken positive steps to mend fences in communities affected by racially charged policing. Use of stop-and-frisk has dramatically receded from past years. Last week, Commissioner Bratton dissolved the police force’s Demographics Unit, which spied on Muslim citizens for no basis other than their religious affiliation. Sufficient oversight will be needed to ensure that information collected from the Unit is appropriately handled with respect to privacy and that the blanket surveillance of Muslims won’t be diffused into other units.

As IG, Mr. Eure’s ability to apply oversight is not confined to any one issue. Other review institutions, such as the Civilian Complaint Review Board, which investigates individual complaints, or the federal monitor, whose primary purpose is to offer oversight in ending stop-and-frisk practices, have a much more narrow scope. Although public debate on the IG role gave most of its consideration to curtailing the use of stop-and-frisk and Muslim surveillance, the law establishing the IG office authorizes it to examine any and all policies the NYPD employs. For example, state law currently requires police to investigate every crash where a serious accident happens, a standard that Mayor de Blasio has promised to meet as a part of his “Vision Zero” initiative. However, advocates for pedestrian and cyclist accident victims argue that the investigations don’t always happen. The IG has the authority to examine NYPD training and protocol to make sure collision units are properly handling such accidents.

It’s up to Mr. Eure to apply his influence creatively and collaboratively, working with Commissioner Bratton and the Police Department to strive for good relationships and the safety of New Yorkers. We on the City Council will be watching closely to ensure the highest quality oversight is administered.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Friday: Partly to mostly cloudy. High 51. Winds E at 5 to 10 mph. Friday night: Mostly cloudy skies early, then partly cloudy after midnight. Low 41.

EVENT OF THE DAY: MicroChip Fundraiser to Benefit Sidewalk Angels

Camp Bow Wow of Queens in Long Island City is hosting a low-cost microchip fundraiser event on Friday from 3:00 – 7:00 p.m. Haute Vet Clinic of Queens is providing the chips, available at a discount of 60 percent in an effort to get as many dogs chipped as possible. All of the proceeds from the event go to Sidewalk Angels pet foundation. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Transit union, MTA announce contract deal

Both sides have announced a tentative contract settlement with the union that represents about 38,000 subway and bus workers in New York City. Read more: NBC New York

Bill would raise state minimum wage to $15 for big businesses

New York’s large retailers and chain stores would be forced to share the wealth with their workers under a bill that would set a $15-an-hour minimum wage. Read more: New York Post 

Chuck Schumer rips Con Ed bill spike

The price of electricity is too darn high, says Sen. Chuck Schumer. Read more: New York Post

Pastors accuse Mayor de Blasio of lack of diversity in appointments

More than a half-dozen African-American pastors and about 70 supporters gathered outside City Hall Thursday to protest what they described as a lack of diversity in Mayor de Blasio’s top appointments. Read more: New York Daily News

New NY law would require underage party bus passengers to have adult chaperone

New legislation could put the brakes on underage drinking on party buses in New York. Read more: CBS New York

 

‘Hero’ cop mourned at Far Rockaway funeral


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos by Eric Jankiewicz/Guerra photo courtesy of NYPD

BY CRISTABELLE TUMOLA AND ERIC JANKIEWICZ

A police officer who died after responding to a Brooklyn fire was remembered in Far Rockaway as a heroic member of the force, dedicated to his job and family.

Loved ones, city officials and thousands of NYPD officers were among those who came out to say goodbye to 38-year-old Bayswater resident Dennis Guerra at his funeral, held at St. Rose of Lima Church Monday.

“Thank you to all those who are here to remember the heroic and courageous acts of Officer Guerra,” Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said, before announcing the posthumous promotion of Guerra to first-grade detective. “God bless Dennis who was once, and forever will be, an officer in blue.”

Bratton then recounted Guerra’s ascent up the law enforcement ladder, from a school safety officer, to a corrections officer, and finally to a police officer over eight years ago.

“We’ll always remember with sadness that day he left us but we’ll also remember the courage he displayed,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at the service. “Dennis is an example for us all.”

Among the many politicians who attended the funeral were Comptroller Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Letitia James, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson.

Curtis Mitchell, Guerra’s brother-in-law, also spoke during the funeral, and described how the officer would cook for the whole family on weekends and became known as the “grill master.”

“He was recently called a hero,” Mitchell said. “But to his family, he was always a hero and forever will be.”

“I wish I had another chance to say, I love you,” he continued.

The fallen cop, who left behind a wife and four children, aged 7 to 20, died Wednesday after being overcome with smoke from an April 6 arson fire in Coney Island.

Guerra and fellow housing officer Rosa Rodriguez, 36, were critically injured in a blaze at a Surf Avenue housing development when the elevator doors opened on the 13floor and the officers were engulfed in smoke.

Both officers suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning and the effects of smoke inhalation.

Rodriguez reportedly remains hospitalized.

Marcell Dockery, who lives in the housing development where the deadly fire started, was indicted on a charge of second-degree murder Friday, according to published reports. He was already charged with arson, assault and reckless endangerment.

The teen allegedly lit a mattress on fire because he was “bored,” reports said.

 

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Queens cop hurt in Coney Island fire dies


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

An NYPD housing officer from Far Rockaway who was injured in a Coney Island fire allegedly set by a teen has died.

Dennis Guerra, 38, passed away at 6:50 a.m. Wednesday, police said. The Bayswater resident leaves behind a wife and four children, according to officials.

“This brave officer gave his life in service of others,” said Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder. “The entire Rockaway community mourns a neighbor, friend and hero. We will keep his wife and children in our thoughts and prayers.”

Guerra and Officer Rosa Rodriguez, 36, were responding to a fire at the Coney Island Housing Development on Surf Avenue when they were both critically hurt, police said.

The blaze broke out about 12:30 p.m. Sunday on the 13th floor. The two officers took the elevator up to the fire, but as the elevator doors opened, the officers were overcome by smoke in the hallway, according to officials.

Firefighters found the officers unconscious and unresponsive, and pulled them out of the building. Both suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning and the effects of smoke inhalation.

“[Guerra] went selflessly towards the flame, selflessly towards those who are in danger, no matter what the risk to him,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement.

“It’s something that our police officers do every day. It’s something our first responders do every day. It is something we need to appreciate every day.”

Photo via Twitter/@NYPDnews

In a ceremony at NYPD headquarters Wednesday, flags were lowered to half staff in honor of Guerra.

Rodriguez, who is also a Queens resident, remains hospitalized in critical condition, according to reports.

A 16-year-old resident of the Coney Island building, Marcell Dockery, was arrested the following day for setting the blaze, police said.

He allegedly lit a mattress on fire because he was “bored,” reports said.

Dockery has been charged with arson, assault and reckless endangerment, but those charges are reportedly expected to be upgraded this week, according to Newsday.

Following the fire, the NYPD said it is reviewing procedures to see if any changes in training need to be made, the publication also reported.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Wednesday: Cloudy. High near 60. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph.Wednesday night: A few clouds. Low 41. Winds NW at 5 to 10 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Noguchi Archaic/ Noguchi Modern

The Noguchi Museum has an exhibition on view of Noguchi’s work from archaic times to modern times.  The only thing Noguchi loved more than the promise of the future was the sense of belonging to the Earth he derived from working with million and billion year old pieces of rock. Noguchi Archaic/ Noguchi Modern explores a stylistic wormhole that seems to link the ancient past and the distant future in his work. Through August 31. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Family of slain Queens man forgives accused killer

The family of a man who was fatally stabbed at a Queens barbershop last week spoke publicly outside of their home on Tuesday to let the alleged killer know they have forgiven him. Read more: CBS New York

De Blasio: state funding might not cover after-school plan

Mayor de Blasio celebrated landing significant state funding for city pre-K programs Tuesday, but wouldn’t say whether the new budget will allow him to expand after-school programs for middle grades, as he initially planned. Read more: New York Post

NYU report finds flawed business model at Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

A new report has found the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s business model is flawed and needs significant change. Read more: CBS New York

Butt-inject ‘killer’ charged with injuring 2nd victim

An unlicensed beautician accused of killing a client with an illegal buttocks injection has also been indicted on an assault rap for injuring a second victim, according to papers unsealed Tuesday in Manhattan Supreme Court. Read more: New York Post

President Obama said 7.1M Americans signed up for Obamacare, exceeding expectations

With an I-told-you-so swagger, President Obama said Tuesday that 7.1 million Americans signed up for health insurance by Monday’s deadline – exceeding the original White House goal under Obamacare. Read more: New York Daily News

De Blasio booed before throwing first pitch at Mets’ Opening Day


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo: Rob Bennett for the Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio

Mayor de Blasio helped open the Mets 2014 season Monday by throwing the ceremonial first pitch at Citi Field.

The Boston Red Sox fan managed to hurl a strike, but was loudly booed by the crowd when he was introduced, according to published reports.

Mayor de Blasio warms up before the first pitch.

When asked before the game if he would ever throw the first pitch at Yankee Stadium, the Massachusetts native said he would be ” happy to” if invited.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Monday: Rain and snow showers this morning. Then becoming partly cloudy this afternoon. High near 55. Winds N at 15 to 25 mph. Chance of rain 70%. Monday night: Clear skies. Low 34. Winds N at 15 to 25 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: The Kaleidoscope

“The Kaleidoscope” starts at 8:00 p.m. at The Creek and the Cave at 10-93 Jackson Ave. in Long Island City. The Kaleidoscope is an experiment where friends and strangers get together and perform. Four improvisers create teams with whom they have never performed and will never exist again. Like a kaleidoscope:, every time you look you will see something different. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

New York City Council to hold hearing on Superstorm Sandy recovery

Members of the de Blasio administration and people affected by Superstorm Sandy are expected to speak Monday morning at a City Council oversight hearing. Read more: CBS New York

Report: Unpaid tolls rose on no-cash NYC bridge

The amount of uncollected tolls on a New York bridge skyrocketed after electronic E-ZPass systems replaced all cash toll lanes, according to a published report. Read more: NBC New York

With pre-k fight behind him, de Blasio to shift focus to affordable housing

Now that state lawmakers have closed a budget deal to fund prekindergarten in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio is ready to turn to the next items on his sweeping liberal agenda. Read more: CBS New York/AP

Bratton raps Kelly and Bloomberg on stop and frisk

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton turned on the city’s former leaders Sunday, saying the department had a terrible morale problem when he took over because of the way his predecessor, Ray Kelly, and former Mayor Bloomberg used stop-and-frisk. Read more: New York Post

Obamacare website down as deadline arrives

People trying to apply and enroll for private health insurance through Obamacare before Monday’s midnight deadline are discovering the website is “currently unavailable.” Read more: NBC News

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Wednesday: Some clouds early. Mostly sunny skies along with windy conditions this afternoon. High 37. Winds NW at 25 to 35 mph. Wednesday night: Clear skies. Low 22. Winds NW at 20 to 30 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Rough Draft Festival

LaGuardia College will be hosting the Rough Draft Festival where there is a opportunity to go to workshops and performances until April 2. The Festival showcases exciting new work currently under development by LaGuardia Performing Arts Center and other companies. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Group files suit against NYC e-cigarette ban

A smokers advocacy group says it’s filed a lawsuit against New York City seeking to overturn its ban on electronic cigarettes. Read more: NBC New York

Livery drivers to form neighborhood watch

Livery drivers are going to put the heat on dangerous driving. Read more: New York Post

Applicants flood city for pre-k teaching positions

Applicants are flooding the school system to snare one of 1,000 teaching slots that will open in September when all-day pre-kindergarten classes expand around the city, Mayor de Blasio said Tuesday. Read more: New York Post

NYC plans taxi accessibility surcharge

New York City taxi fares may rise in order to pay for an increase in the number of wheelchair-accessible cabs. Read more: AP

CNN producers accused of trying to sneak into World Trade Center site

Two CNN producers were arrested Tuesday afternoon for allegedly trying to sneak into the site around the 1 World Trade Center building, police said. Read more: CBS New York/AP

FEMA to pay for Sandy-damaged boilers in Rockaway NYCHA buildings


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Rob Bennett for the Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio

New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) residents in the Rockaways and other parts of the city will receive a much needed fix to their buildings following Superstorm Sandy.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Senator Charles Schumer announced Sunday that 60 boilers in 110 separate NYCHA residential buildings in the Rockaways, Coney Island and the Lower East Side that were damaged in the storm will be replaced.

FEMA will provide approximately $100 million in funding for the “new state-of-the-art-boilers.” Since Sandy, NYCHA has been spending $3 million per month for temporary boilers in the buildings.

Officials said that instead of repairing the boilers, as is normal, FEMA had agreed to replace them, speeding up the process of restoring regular service to the affected buildings.

“For more than 16 months, bureaucratic infighting and red tape have denied NYCHA residents the most basic of necessities—reliable heat and hot water,” Schumer said. “Today we’re firmly on the path to righting a wrong that has too often left NYCHA residents in the cold during the winter and in the dark at night.”

The final funding agreement is expected to be in place in time so boiler replacement can start later this year, according to Schumer.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Monday: A good deal of sunshine. High near 35. Winds NW at 10 to 15 mph. Monday night: A few passing clouds, otherwise generally clear. Low 28. Winds NE at 5 to 10 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: York College Celebrates 75 Years of Blue Note Records

On Monday at 6 p.m., the York College Cultural Diversity Center and the Male Initiative Program will host “The Blue Note Sound: Celebrating 75 Years of Blue Note Records.” The celebration will pay tribute to Blue Note Records’ contribution to jazz. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Spring nor’easter to dump more snow on tri-state

The tri-state is expected to get more snow this week as a nor’easter delivers a glancing blow Tuesday night, forecasters say, but the area should be spared from the worst of the wintry spring storm. Read more: NBC New York

3 people shot at Queensbridge housing projects in Long Island City; cops searching for shooter

Two men and a woman were shot in a Queens housing project Sunday. Read more: New York Daily News

De Blasio on charter school students: ‘we need them to succeed’

Just weeks after moving to prevent their expansion, Mayor Bill de Blasio has offered an olive branch to the charter school movement. Read more: CBS New York

NYPD to train cabbies in new sergeant-taxi driver partnership

NYPD sergeants will be training city cabdrivers on how to protect themselves against violent passengers and farebeaters, as well as teach them methods for handling high-stress situations that could lead to road rage and accidents. Read more: New York Post

Giuliani: de Blasio taking city ‘in the wrong direction’

Rudy Giuliani sounded off on Mayor de Blasio Sunday, saying his successor is moving the city “in the wrong direction.” Read more: New York Post

Mayor de Blasio signs first bill, approves paid sick leave law


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/@NYCMayorsOffice

Bill de Blasio signed his first bill into law as mayor Thursday, extending the right to paid sick leave to half a million more New Yorkers.

Earlier this year, de Blasio and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced the bill, which will apply to all workers at businesses with five or more employees. The City Council approved it on Feb. 26.

“This law is the first of many steps we are taking to fundamentally address inequality in this city, and make this a city where everyone rises together, the mayor said. “Today is truly a historic day that takes us one step closer toward that goal.”

The law takes effect April 1, and extends on previous legislation that gave the right to business with 15 or more employees.

It also removes exemptions for the manufacturing sector, and adds grandparents, grandchildren and siblings to the definition of family members, and cut out legislative red tape that could have delayed paid sick leave.

 

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De Blasio job approval rating drops, poll shows


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo: Rob Bennett for the Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s job approval rating has dipped almost 10 percent in two months despite voter optimism about the next four years, according to a newly released poll.

The Quinnipiac University survey, released Tuesday, showed 45 percent of city voters approve of the job de Blasio is doing, down from 53 percent in a January 16 poll by the school.

A Quinnipiac University poll taken shortly after former Mayor Michael Bloomberg took office in March 2002 found he had a 62 percent approval rating.

Voters, however, still, have high hopes for de Blasio. Sixty-five percent are optimistic about the next four years under his watch. Thirty-three percent believe De Blasio will make life better for them and their families, while 22 percent say he will make life worse and 38 percent say he will have no effect.

“Mayor de Blasio’s overall job-approval numbers are off a bit, but still positive. And he gets solid marks on the standard pollster traits –leadership, honesty and understands people’s problems,” said Quinnipiac University Poll Assistant Director Maurice Carroll.

“But his hand-picked police commissioner, William Bratton, and his fellow citywide elected official, Comptroller Scott Stringer, both out-score him,” Carroll added.

Bratton received a 57 percent job approval rating in the poll and Stringer got a 53 percent score.

De Blasio did fare slightly better than Public Advocate Letitia James, who got a 44 percent approval rating, and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who had 41 percent.

The Quinnipiac poll also showed him with a better rating than a Wall Street Journal/NBC 4 New York/Marist survey from earlier this month that gave de Blasio only a 30 percent job performance rating.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Tuesday: Sunny. High 42. Winds ENE at 10 to 20 mph. Tuesday night: Clear skies. Low 31. Winds ENE at 10 to 15 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Elton John’s The Million Dollar Piano

Showcase Cinemas is excited to bring Sir Elton John to select theaters for “The Million Dollar Piano.” Captured live from his residency at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, “The Million Dollar Piano” features all of Elton’s greatest hits from throughout his legendary career PLUS an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the making of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Starts at 7 p.m. at College Point Multiplex Cinemas. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Dream Act fails in New York Senate 

In a controversial vote, the New York Senate rejected a bill Monday that would have opened state tuition aid to students living in the United States illegally, dashing long-held hopes of immigration advocates. Read more: CBS New York/AP

Fatal NYC bus crashes skyrocket

Fatal city bus crashes have recently soared, according to new data. Read more: New York Post

City Council proposal would give unpaid interns right to sue for sexual harassment, discrimination

A measure under consideration by the New York City Council would give unpaid interns some of the same rights as paid workers. Read more: CBS New York

De Blasio plans to sign paid-sick leave bill this week

Mayor de Blasio said Monday he won’t delay a bill forcing businesses with as few as five workers to provide five paid-sick days a year to their employees. Read more: New York Post

GM recalls1.18 million SUVs for air bag issue

General Motors issued a new recall of 1.5 million vehicles Monday, part of an effort to assure buyers that it’s moving faster to fix safety defects in its cars and trucks. Read more: AP

 

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Thursday: Sun and clouds mixed. High 28. Winds NW at 20 to 30 mph. Thursday night: Clear skies. Low 19. Winds WNW at 20 to 30 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Latin Dance Classes

Dance instruction at the Queens Theatre for all ages and all levels with renowned instructor Paul Ru Bao of Farrington Ballroom Dance School. After an hour lesson there is an hour of open dance. $10 single class/$45 for five classes. Skip the class and join open dance at 8 pm for $5. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Report: Homelessness on the rise in NYC

According to a new study, a record number of people stayed overnight at New York City homeless shelters in January. Read more: CBS New York/AP

East Harlem explosion, collapse leaves 6 dead, 69 hurt

Federal investigators are on the scene of an explosion and two building collapses at 116th Street and Park Avenue in East Harlem, while rescue crews search for those still missing. Read more: ABC New York

De Blasio wants judge to toss cop union challenge to profiling law

Mayor Bill de Blasio said the police unions’ legal challenge to a law making it easier to sue cops for racial profiling is destined for failure — and asked a Manhattan judge to toss the case. Read more: New York Post

State senate makes bid to undo anti-charter school moves

The state Senate will propose sweeping measures in its budget bill to undo Mayor de Blasio’s ­moves against charter schools, sources familiar with the plan said. Read more: New York Post

Teachers fleeing city schools to the suburbs is growing: union

Teachers are fleeing to the suburbs in one of the worst “brain drains” in the history of city schools, union president Michael Mulgrew said Wednesday. Read more: New York Daily News