Tag Archives: Mayor Michael Bloomberg

Industrial Business Zones in danger of losing funding


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Follow me @liamlaguerre 

 

Ted Renz is hoping what he fought so hard for won’t soon end.

Just last November, Renz, director of the Ridgewood Local Development Corporation, was at the forefront of the fight to get the neighborhood included in the Industrial Business Zone (IBZ) program.

But only three months later, the IBZ may be in jeopardy, as Mayor Bill de Blasio didn’t include $1.1 million in funding in his preliminary budget for the program, an initiative left over from the previous administration to save manufacturing jobs.

“We are disappointed that it wasn’t in the mayor’s budget,” Renz said. “We thought that he was a big supporter of manufacturing jobs. We hope that it will be reinstated (in his final budget).”

IBZs were created to stabilize industrial areas and spur growth in the manufacturing sector by offering tax credits of up to $1,000 per employee for businesses that relocated to them, and additional services to help companies grow.

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg allocated nearly $4 million to 16 IBZs in 2006.

However, since its inception, funding decreased to about $1.1 million in 2013. Bloomberg himself hasn’t allocated money to the initiative since 2010, but the City Council has restored it every year, according to the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

The move could mean de Blasio, who supported manufacturing jobs during his campaign, will engage a different strategy to assist the sector, although his administration has not come up with any specifics.

“The de Blasio administration is committed to making smart, impactful investments that will help industrial business thrive in New York City, and is working with our agency partners to take a fresh look at the suite of programs that support this critical part of the city economy,” a spokesperson for the mayor said. “Spending differences in one program do not speak to the overall commitment to industrial firms and their jobs.”

Despite the decline in funding over the years, the program has grown to 21 IBZs, including Ridgewood and Woodside last year.

Community Board (CB) 5 especially pushed for the Ridgewood IBZ against opponents, which are owners who wanted to use their properties for residential use instead of industrial.

“It enables us to promote businesses more in that area and advocate for businesses, and provide programs for manufacturing,” said Renz, who is a member of CB 5.

In March, the city council will review the preliminary budget, and some are touting the IBZ’s signficance. “I am committed to restore it,” Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley said. “I know it is important not just to Maspeth and Ridgewood, but the rest of the city. It is something that the council treasures.”

 

 

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De Blasio administration settles first labor contract


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYC Department of Environmental Protection

The de Blasio administration is taking its first steps towards settling labor contracts that were left unresolved under Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

An agreement has been reached with 200 Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) officers who have been working without a contract since 2005, according to Kenneth Wynder, president of the Law Enforcement Employees Benevolent Association, which represents the officers.

The terms of the settlement, decided on  Feb. 13, include raises of 5 percent for 2005 and 4 percent for 2006 and 2007, with about $50,000 to $55,000 in back pay, Wynder said.

It will also double their differential plan for working nights to 10 percent and up their uniform allowance to $1,000.

The agreement settles their contract to 2008, according to Wynder. They plan on returning to the bargaining table with the city in July, he said.

“It’s [a step] in the right direction and we are very happy with the new administration,” Wynder said.

The officers tried to strike a deal with the Bloomberg administration several times, but the city refused to concede to any of their demands, according to Wynder.

Bloomberg left office with more than 150 labor contracts still unresolved, some dating back as far as 2008.

Those contracts are a large concern for the city’s budget.

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s preliminary budget, presented on Feb. 12, didn’t address those negotiations.

The budget does provide extra money by restoring $1 billion to the Retiree Health Benefits Trust Fund and is increasing the city’s general reserve funds from $300 to $600 million.

During the presentation, de Blasio said giving workers back pay, which could reportedly cost more than $7 billion, is not off the table. At an unrelated press conference Tuesday, he said the deal on back pay struck with the DEP officers, however, didn’t indicate his intentions with future negotiations because that was a special situation.

Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, said in an interview with WYNC Monday that back pay would be a “big issue” in contract negotiations with the de Blasio administration.

 

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Op-ed: Bloomberg was a boon to this city


| oped@queenscourier.com

ANDREW SANTIS

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is no more.

To New Yorkers who criticize and accuse Bloomberg for being ignorant and a tyrant, this is a relief. For others, like me, it is saddening to see the man responsible for today’s New York go.

Bloomberg entered City Hall at a very peculiar time, as it was only four months after the 9/11 attacks. In addition, he faced three consecutive years of budget gaps and an underperforming school system. And yet, he was still very optimistic about the city’s future. On his inauguration day, he said, “New York is safe, strong, open for business and ready to lead the world in the 21st century.”

He was right.

Under Bloomberg’s watch, New York City became the safest large city in the country. He and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly reduced crime by 35 percent.

Bloomberg also became a public opponent of guns, leading efforts to eliminate the sale and distribution of illegal guns in the city. Eight thousand guns are now off the streets of New York. Bloomberg has also devoted his efforts to making New York City’s counterterrorism programs the best in the world.

To stimulate the city’s economy, Bloomberg created the Five Borough Economic Opportunity Plan, which focuses on creating jobs for New Yorkers, implementing a long-term vision for growing the city’s economy and building affordable, attractive neighborhoods in every borough. As a result, areas in Coney Island were rezoned for housing and commercial use. In addition, the Lower East Side will generate more than 1 million square feet of housing, open space and shops, the West Side of Midtown Manhattan will see residential housing, office buildings and the extension of the 7 line (also a Bloomberg initiative) and Willets Point in Queens will add housing, retail, entertainment, public space and much more that will transform the area around Citi Field.

Among Bloomberg’s major accomplishments was making New York the healthiest city in the world. First he tackled smoking by signing the Smoke Free Air Act in 2003, making smoking in public places illegal; he raised taxes on cigarettes; started an anti-smoking campaign and recently succeeded at raising the cigarette buying age to 21. Youth smoking has decreased by 51 percent and adult smoking by one third.

Obesity followed. In 2006, trans fats were banned from restaurants. In 2008, calorie counts began appearing on menus and menu boards. In 2010, he unveiled a plan to reduce salt in packaged and restaurant food. Thanks to his efforts, the city now boasts an 80.6-year life expectancy.

Of course, Bloomberg has had his share of flops. One was appointing Cathie Black as Schools Chancellor, and another was being unprepared for the 2010 Christmas blizzard. And let’s not forget the flawed, over-priced, revamped 9-1-1 system.

However, this will not eclipse the good Bloomberg has done.

There are more parks, affordable health insurance for all New Yorkers, environmentally friendly hybrid taxis, a city-wide information and non-emergency service and an improved public school system.

One thing is for sure: Bloomberg is leaving behind an unparalleled legacy.

On his inauguration day, Bloomberg promised Rudy Giuliani he would not fail the people of New York.

He did not.

Mayor Bloomberg, thanks for all you have done. I will miss you.

Andrew Santis is a sophomore in the Gabelli School of Business at Fordham University.

 

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City officials announce new pay-by-phone parking program


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

File Photo

City residents can soon pay for parking on-the-go, officials said Thursday.

Motorists will be able to pay for parking via cell phone and also online at all 14,000 city parking meters, taking away the need to place paper receipts on dashboards.

The Department of Transportation (DOT), NYPD and Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the new program Dec. 26.

Visitors of Arthur Avenue in the Bronx are the first to trash the receipts. The rest of the city will be on board by early 2015.

“By eliminating the need for coins, credit cards or receipts, pay-by-phone parking has already been a game-changer for drivers in the Bronx,” said Janette Sadik-Khan, DOT Commissioner. “Expanding the system across the borough will now help more New Yorkers dial in for faster, more convenient parking.”

Drivers will be able to pay by downloading a smartphone app or calling a toll-free number and identifying their location by entering the number displayed on muni-meters.

Payment information will be instantly accessible to NYPD traffic enforcement agents.

“Technology is critical to making daily interactions with government simpler and easier,” said NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly. “This innovative program will allow motorists to remotely pay from their mobile devices, and it’s another way we are bringing parking into the 21st century.”

The DOT has additionally tested sensors embedded in parking lanes to deliver information on available parking spaces along Arthur Avenue and is looking to expand that system citywide as well.

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Bloomberg gets ‘#1 Grandpa’ mug at LIC firehouse


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

NYC Mayor's Office's Flickr/Photo by Samantha Modell

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is ready to be the number one grandpa.

A day after his daughter reportedly gave birth to a son on Christmas Eve, the first grandchild for the mayor, Bloomberg visited firefighters of Engine 258/Ladder 115 in Long Island City to thank them for working on Christmas Day.

Bloomberg received a homemade coffee mug with “#1 Grandpa” written on it from the firefighters as a congratulatory gift.

Before stopping by the firehouse, Bloomberg also paid a morning visit to the 108th Precinct in Long Island City to thank the NYPD officers for their work on the holiday. 

 

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Council approves law increasing number of parks where crime is reported


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

The City Council unanimously passed an amendment Thursday that would require the NYPD to submit to the Council crime reports for all city parks and playgrounds larger than one acre.

Currently, crimes are only reported in the city’s 31 largest green spaces.

The NYPD would also be required to post this data on the department’s website within five days of providing it to the Council, according to Peter Vallone Jr., chair of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee, who proposed the amendment.

The councilmember said the amendment will close a “loophole” from a bill he passed in 2006.

“It will help the public make more informed decisions about their safety,” said Vallone

That legislation originally required the crime reporting of 20 parks, but was supposed to be extended to hundreds more over three years. But, according to Vallone, the NYPD didn’t need to make those increases if the technology wasn’t available to do it.

The amendment will increase the amount of parks where crime is reported to over 870, Vallone said.

According to the legislation, the Police Department would be required to report crimes for 100 of the city’s largest parks initially, then that number would be increased over time, until January 2017 when all crimes for parks one acre or larger would be reported. In January 2018, crimes would be submitted for public pools, basketball courts, recreation centers and playgrounds that are not located within parks one acre or greater in size.

Vallone said he anticipates a veto from Mayor Michael  Bloomberg.

It would be up to the next City Council to override his veto in January, he said.

“I’m sure my brother will lead the way on [the override], Vallone said, referring to Paul Vallone, who starts his term representing District 19 next month.

 

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Mayor Bloomberg signs building code bills


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Councilmember Eric Ulrich

Living and working in Queens flood zones will be safer thanks to new building codes and zoning resolutions recently signed into law.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed several bills intended to strengthen the city’s infrastructure on November 20. Councilmember Eric Ulrich sponsored one bill he hopes will ensure that future construction meets “the highest level of resilience.”

Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) are the official flood maps which FEMA utilized to detail areas of special flood hazard, base flood elevation, flood boundary and floodways.

This new legislation, along with new building codes, requires FEMA to use FIRMs as the baseline standard moving forward when building. The bill references them as the “best available flood maps.”

“Until now, many property owners in flood zones were unsure about how they should rebuild. By adopting these maps, we will allow homeowners and residents affected by Hurricane Sandy the opportunity to rebuild their communities stronger and more storm resilient,” Ulrich said.

 

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Mayor Bloomberg signs law to raise cigarette purchase age to 21


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Nikki Djokovich

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has signed a law making New York the first major U.S. city to have a minimum cigarette purchase age of 21.

Bloomberg signed the law on Tuesday, raising the minimum age for buying cigarettes and other tobacco products, as well as e-cigarettes, from 18 to 21.

The law, which Bloomberg said “will prevent young people from experimenting with tobacco when they are most likely to become addicted,”will take effect in 180 days. The mayor has previously spearheaded measures such as banning smoking in bars and restaurants.

“Any person operating a place of business where cigarettes, tobacco products, or electronic cigarettes are sold or offered for sale will be prohibited from selling such products to anyone under the age of twenty-one and they will be required to post a sign in a conspicuous location stating the new law,” said Bloomberg.  “Sales of these products shall be made only to an individual who demonstrates, through a driver’s license or other photographic identification card issued by a government entity or educational institution, that the individual is at least twenty-one years of age.”

The City Council voted to raise the minimum age in October. It passed by a 35-10 vote.

“…Our city is sending a powerful signal to the tobacco industry and its allies that hooking our kids on nicotine will no longer be a viable business model,” said Councilmember James Gennaro, one of the law’s sponsors, after the October 31 vote.

Eighty percent of the city’s adults who become daily smokers start smoking before reaching the age of 21, according to the City Council.

The same day, the City Council also passed legislation which attempts to limit access to illegal tobacco products and strengthens enforcement against illegal cigarette dealers.

 

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Majority of Queens schools score well on progress reports


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

The majority of Queens schools scored high on the Department of Education’s (DOE) recently released progress reports.

Out of the 62 Queens high schools that were issued 2012-2013 progress reports, 31 earned As, 16 Bs, 6 Cs, 5 Ds and 4 Fs.

The highest scoring institution was Long Island City’s Academy for Careers in Television and Film, which just moved into a new building at the beginning of this school year. It received an overall score of 100.9.

Flushing High School, Pan American International High School in Elmhurst, Frederick Douglass Academy VI High School in Far Rockaway and August Martin High School in Jamaica earned overall failing grades.

Progress reports were issued for 239 Queens elementary and middle schools. Fifty-eight of them earned As, 97 Bs, 74 Cs, nine Ds and only one, Springfield Gardens’ Community Voices Middle School, failed.

Waterside School for Leadership in Rockaway was the highest ranking Queens middle school, with an overall score of 90.3, and P.S. 203 Oakland Gardens was the top-rated elementary school in the borough, with an overall score of 86.5.

Across the city, the DOE found public school performance “remained consistent, with 87 percent of schools maintaining their grade or moving one grade compared to last year.”

The reports are based on students’ progress, performance, attendance and surveys of parents, students and teachers. High school progress reports also measure college and career readiness.

According to the DOE, more students are graduating from high school ready for college and careers.

The reports found that the four-year college readiness rate is up nearly 3 points since last year.

“The most important job of our schools is ensuring students are on track to succeed in college and their careers,” said Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott. “These results are further evidence that the hard work of our teachers and principals is paying off.”

This year’s school progress reports were the last ones issued during Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s tenure.

They could see some changes when they are issued under the Bill de Blasio administration.

“While Mayor-elect de Blasio supports making overall school progress reports available to parents, he would eliminate letter grades of schools which offer little real insight to parents and are not a reliable indicator of how schools are actually performing,” his spokesperson Lis Smith said.

To find a specific school’s progress report, visit http://schools.nyc.gov/ProgressReport.

 

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LIC, Astoria best bet for hailing green cabs


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Taxi & Limousine Commission

Queens taxi riders have the best shot at hailing a green cab in Long Island City and Astoria.

Nearly 900 new apple green cabs roam the northwestern edge of the borough, according to data from the Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC).

City officials said more than 1,000 borough taxis have hit the streets since the first fleet of its kind rolled out in early August.

“Borough taxis have quickly proven themselves to be immensely popular, with almost 300,000 rides having already taken place,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who proposed the plan in 2011. “The new taxis have been a hit with both riders and drivers, and they will become an increasingly common sight in communities that previously lacked taxi service.”

LIC and Astoria, near the western part of the Ravenswood Houses, have 223 wheelchair-accessible green cabs and 675 standard ones, TLC data shows.

The area also includes the strip of land bordering the East River, the Queensbridge Houses and a portion of the neighborhood north of Queens Plaza and west of Northern Boulevard.

“They are all over the place in Long Island City and Astoria,” said passenger David Gutierrez.

“They’ve just become part of the community.”

The 31-year-old LIC resident, who cruises to Astoria in a green cab for business almost every day, said he has no trouble spotting one.

“I like the green color,” he said. “You definitely can’t miss them.”

Neighborhoods with the lowest number of green cabs include Flushing, Far Rockaway, Forest Hills and Middle Village, according to TLC data. There is at least one street hail livery base in each of those regions but no licensed green cabs listed.

Heather Bartone of Astoria said Steinway Street is a “green cab central,” but she is often left stranded in Flushing, where she works.

“I rarely see any in Flushing, so instead I have to take a regular taxi back home,” said Bartone, 41.

City officials announced Tuesday a new website called www.borotaxis.org, created to let New Yorkers suggest new green cab locations.

The new taxis are licensed to pick up street hails anywhere in the city, except in certain parts of Manhattan and at airports.

They charge the same fare as yellow cabs and must also have taximeters, a TLC permit number, credit card machines, roof lights and rate information printed on its front driver and passenger doors.

The TLC said it has already finished selling its first 6,000 borough taxi licenses allotted this year.

However, Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has been a staunch opponent of the new taxi plan, going so far as to say he would fire Taxi & Limousine Commissioner David Yassky, according to reports.

Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., who chairs the Public Safety Committee, said the commission has not yet cracked down on pockets of illegal hail activity as promised.

“It seems the green cabs are just sitting outside train stops with livery cabs that are still illegally picking up passengers,” he said. “That wasn’t the deal.”

A TLC spokesperson said the commission would soon beef up enforcement after more than doubling its field strength over the past two years.

 

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A Willets Point wish list for de Blasio


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by Thad Komorowski

THAD KOMOROWSKI

The $3 billion plan to transform Willets Point from a grungy haven for auto shops into a slick shopping mega center has sparked protests, petitions and even a hunger strike since the Bloomberg administration announced the project.

But opponents largely fell silent after the City Council voted to approve the plan on October 9. Now, they’re waiting to see what the incoming mayor might do.

Willets Point United, an organization that has protested the proposal since it was announced, has kept quiet in the wake of the Council’s decision. Normally updating its blog and Twitter feed with the frequency of a teenager, the group has been unresponsive to reporters’ calls and emails.

The silence has even extended to the group’s attorney Michael Rikon, who also represents business owners in Willets Points, located in the shadow of Citi Field.

“Maybe the organization is so exhausted from the fight that they would not come up to my office,” Rikon said. “They may be in a really bad bind. But I can’t represent an organization that won’t meet with its attorney.”

While Willets Point United may be quiet, resentment of the plan is alive and well among the affected business owners.

Arturo Olaya, proprietor of Arthur’s Auto Trim, said the city is displacing him and other Willets Point business owners without giving them enough money or understanding the area’s way of life.

“People here can’t pick up a business and move it,” Olaya said. “Willets Point grew up by itself with no help from the government. Now Bloomberg is just concerned with big business and wants to level everybody out.”

Queens residents are suffering from the redevelopment plan too, said Alan Gross, a Census Bureau field representative who lives in North Flushing.

“Those shops provide an important service to people in Queens, and I experienced that firsthand,” Gross said. “People can’t afford to go to the dealerships and get parts from part stores themselves.”

Locals say they would have preferred to improve the neighborhood in small ways. If simple sewage, street and gas repair were done, Rikon said, Willets Point would repair itself.

But John Choe, director of One Flushing Community Economic Development Center, said that smaller community needs getting abandoned in favor of large-scale development is a hallmark of the Bloomberg era.

“We have fallen by the wayside,” Choe said. “Maybe the next administration could do a better job addressing the needs of the surroundings here.”

Newly elected Mayor Bill de Blasio has not commented on the Willets Point redevelopment, and didn’t respond to inquiries.

The construction of the project’s mall is set for completion by the time of the next mayor’s second term or exit in 2018. Choe said locals can only hope Bloomberg’s successor will take the small communities’ needs seriously as the project progresses.

“We’re looking for more of a presence of the mayor, where they’re actually coming to the neighborhood besides in election time,” Choe said. “We’re hoping the next mayor will have a longer outlook of what’s going on here and an active interest in us.”

 

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Residents unhappy over tax hikes on northeast Queens co-ops, condos


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by Elijah Stewart

ELIJAH STEWART

Bayside-area residents say they are getting fed up with what they believe to be unfair tax increases on co-ops and condos throughout northeast Queens.

“They look at it as they might as well buy a house, which is a larger down payment, than come here and pay enormous amounts in taxes,” said John DePasquale, general manager at Alley Pond Owners Corp., a self-managed co-op in Bayside.  

The unhappy apartment owners say this problem stems from Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s lack of action in pushing for a new state tax code that would eliminate the high tax increases on middle-class co-op and condo owners. They hope the next mayor will take action on the issue.

Warren Schreiber from the Presidents’ Co-ops & Condos Council, which represents more than 100,000 owners, said northeast Queens has been hit the hardest by the increased tax evaluations.

“There have been double-digit and in some cases triple-digit increases in tax evaluations,” said Schreiber.

The city Department of Finance lists private homes as Class 1 properties. This means their assessed value, which is set at six percent of the property’s market value, cannot be increased more than six percent a year.

However, co-ops and condos are listed in Class 2, along with rentals and other revenue streamed housing. Their assessment value is 45 percent of the property’s market value, and there is no cap on yearly assessment increases.

While the property tax code is a state law, it is up to the mayor to request changes to city tax classifications.

“Mayor Bloomberg and his predecessor Rudy Giuliani have always opposed changes in the classification system,” said State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky.

Stavisky said the property classification system for co-ops and condos is unfair and has led to inconsistencies in tax assessments throughout the city. She said she’s working closely with Assemblymember Edward Braunstein to address this issue.

“We’re just part of a middle class that continues to get squeezed harder and harder,” said Arthur Getzel, a teacher at P.S. 26.  Getzel, 59, said many co-ops in the area have been forced to charge higher maintenance fees due to increased tax assessments.

Kevin O’Brien, a recently retired co-op owner at Bell Park Gardens, agreed that the tax situation is unfair.

“If you go to any other co-op development here, Windsor Park, Windsor Oak, Hollis Court, they’re all going to say the same thing,” said O’Brien, 43. “They don’t understand why we’re paying so much property tax for a small number of square feet.”

Others worry about the effect on older owners.

“I think the tax increases are going to push the elderly people out,” said Jennifer Santaniello, 48, of Hollis Court. “I don’t think they’re going to be able to afford to live in Queens.”

A co-op since 1983, Hollis Court currently houses 376 families, according to Santaniello, and 60 percent of its residents are elderly.

Schreiber said the city’s co-ops and condos house tens of thousands of working-class people who are the backbone of the city.

“What many people don’t understand,” said Schreiber, “is that without the money from the co-ops and condos, the city would go bankrupt.”

 

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FDA to take steps to further eliminate trans fats in processed food


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said Thursday that “while consumption of potentially harmful artificial trans fat has declined over the last two decades in the United States, current intake remains a significant public health concern,” and more needs to be done to help protect Americans from their possible dangers.

“Further reduction in the amount of trans fat in the American diet could prevent an additional 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths from heart disease each year – a critical step in the protection of Americans’ health,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D.

According to a preliminary determination by the FDA, partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), the main dietary source of artificial trans fat in processed foods, are not “generally recognized as safe” for use in food.

Though many food manufacturers and retailers have voluntarily decreased trans fat levels in products they sell, said the FDA, trans fat can still be found in many other products that can be made without it.

If its preliminary determination is finalized, following a 60-day comment period and review, said the FDA, then “PHOs would be considered ‘food additives’ and could not be used in food unless authorized by regulation.”

It would not affect trans fat that naturally occurs in small amounts in certain dairy and meat products, said the FDA.

New York City has already taken its own steps to help eliminate trans fats from its residents’ diets. Mayor Michael Bloomberg applauded the FDA announcement in a statement Thursday.

“Seven years ago we became the first city in the nation to prohibit restaurants from using trans fats. Since then, at least 15 states and localities have followed suit and banned trans fats – and more than ten fast food chains have eliminated trans fats entirely. Today, we’re greatly encouraged that the FDA proposed measures that would virtually eliminate the artery-clogging and unnecessary ingredient from our nation’s food supply,” he said.

 

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Ribbon cut on Queens Museum expansion project


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Melissa Chan

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and ranks of officials cut the ribbon Wednesday on the $68 million Queens Museum expansion project.

“There always seems to be something new and magical happening in this incredible space,” the head of the city said. “It really is an experience like no other. This is one of the great cultural institutions that provides art-inspiring experiences that you can find nowhere else.”

The Queens Museum, formerly known as the Queens Museum of Art, shortened its name but doubled its size to 105,000 square feet, officials said.

It will feature new galleries, classrooms, a new wing with nine artist studios and a sky-lit atrium when it reopens to the public on November 9.

“We have expressed openness in this space. We’re open to new ideas. We’re open to the future of arts. We’re open to contemporary. We’re also open to the community, open to the sky,” said Tom Finkelpearl, the museum’s executive director.

Queens Museum will also have its own 5,000-square-foot public library in 2015, library officials said. It will house about 14,000 books.

“The expanded Queens Museum will become an exciting destination for not only our out-of-town visitors but for our residents alike,” said Borough President Helen Marshall. “We are going to have something here that will be unique in the city of New York. I can’t see it do anything but be a wonderful place to come for everyone.”

The transformed city-owned building is located in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in the former space of the World’s Fair ice skating rink.

Its massive facelift, designed by Grimshaw, was largely funded by Marshall, Bloomberg, the state and City Council.

MORE PHOTOS FROM THE RIBBON CUTTING

The museum will host a month-long celebratory event lineup starting November 9.

“With today’s ribbon cutting, the Queens Museum, with such an important part and place in our city’s history, is ready to embark on an exciting, new future,” Bloomberg said.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

The Queens Morning Roundup logo.

TODAY’S FORECAST

Tuesday: Overcast. High of 68. Winds from the West at 10 to 15 mph. Tuesday night: Partly cloudy with a chance of rain after midnight. Low of 48. Winds from the NW at 5 to 10 mph shifting to the North after midnight. Chance of rain 50%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Quality-of-Life Town Hall with Assemblymemeber Francisco Moya and the Jackson Heights Green Alliance

Assemblymember Francisco Moya and the Jackson Heights Green Alliance will host a Town Hall featuring a panel comprised of representatives from an array of city agencies, state agencies and community groups. The event will provide Jackson Heights residents with the opportunity to address these representatives on a wide range of issues and discuss ways in which quality of life in the community can be improved. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

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