Tag Archives: Melinda Katz

Katz commits to restoring NY State Pavilion


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Borough President Melinda Katz, on a tour of the New York State Pavilion Thursday, said she wanted to save the site.

KATELYN DI SALVO

Borough President Melinda Katz is saying yes to saving the iconic New York State Pavilion.

The NYC Parks Department released plans last fall for both restoring and potentially tearing down the deteriorating 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair figure.

Cost estimates to fix the Pavilion, which includes the Observation Towers and the Tent of Tomorrow, start at $43 million.

An option to knock it down would cost about $14 million.

During a tour of the site on Thursday in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Katz said that $14 million should be spent on repairing, not destroying, it.

“Let’s take that money and put it towards this project,” she said.

Other local politicians, civic and cultural leaders, community board members and Parks Department officials joined Katz on the tour to get a closer look at the site.

Repairs include the cable roof system in the Tent of Tomorrow, the concrete columns and stabilization of the wood pilings in the Tent, as well as basic utility work, said Meira Berkower, director of planning for the Parks Department.

Katz said she will be forming a task force, consisting of elected officials,  community leaders and advocates, who will meet regularly at Queens Borough Hall to create a plan for the Pavilion’s future.

“Give me a month to figure out the ‘who what where and when,’” she said, adding it’s important to restore the outside for “safety reasons.”

People For the Pavilion, an advocacy group for the site, is excited about the participation of the borough president and other local electeds in the project.

“Moving forward, we want to continue to raise the profile of the building and educate the community, said People for the Pavilion member Matthew Silva. “We will be doing public programming celebrating its 50th anniversary so people can see what happened here 50 years ago.”

 

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BP Katz commemorates Beatles anniversary


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Borough President Melinda Katz appeared on the “Jim Kerr Rock ‘n Roll Morning Show” on Q104.3 Friday to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Beatles first visit to America.

It was 50 years ago today when the flight carrying the “Fab  Four”  to the U.S. arrived at John F.  Kennedy Airport, where they were greeted by thousands of screaming fans and a huge throng of reporters who came to the airport for the Beatles’ first U.S. press conference.

Since that day the borough of Queens has played host to several other major Beatles events, including their August 1964 concerts at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills and their 1965 and 1966 shows at Shea Stadium (with the sold out 1965 show being the first concert ever to be performed in a major sports stadium).

In recent years Sir Paul McCartney has made several trips to Queens for performances at Shea Stadium and Citi Field, and visited the Frank Sinatra School for the Arts in Astoria this fall, where he performed for and took questions from students.

During her radio appearance, the Borough President presented host Jim Kerr with a proclamation that notes all those important Beatles events. and pays tribute to the band for the great joy and excitement it has brought to people throughout the world.

“Beginning with their arrival in the U.S. during the dark days after the assassination John F. Kennedy, The Beatles have had a profound positive impact on our nation and have brightened the lives of countless millions of people,” Katz said. “As Borough President and as a lifelong Queens resident, I am proud that our borough has played such an important role in Beatles history. Thank you to Jim Kerr and everyone at Q104.3 for inviting me to their station to help mark today’s anniversary.”

 

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Federal, state and city officials: ‘Make Lunar New Year an official school holiday’


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

State lawmakers have strengthened a renewed push to make Lunar New Year an official school holiday, garnering support from City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“Students shouldn’t feel like they have to choose between celebrating their heritage and missing a day of school,” the newly-risen speaker said.

The City Council plans to introduce two resolutions, calling for schools to close and metered parking to be suspended on one of the most important holidays of the year in Asian communities, Mark-Viverito said.

Multiple other measures have been introduced in the state and federal levels that call for a similar break for families.

A bill that would establish Lunar New Year as a school holiday for districts with an Asian-American population of at least 7.5 percent has been introduced in the State Senate and Assembly for years.

Flushing is the only neighborhood in Queens to meet the criteria, along with Chinatown in downtown Manhattan.

While it has made no movement in the past, elected officials gathered Friday in downtown Flushing to declare 2014 the year of action.

“This is the year and this is the time we believe it’s going to happen,” said Councilmember Paul Vallone, who is drafting a bill that would suspend metered parking that day.

About 14 percent of city students in the school system are Asian-American, Mark-Viverito said.

Officials have long argued absence rates in some city schools climb 80 percent on the first day of the Lunar New Year. Though observing students are “excused,” the absence is marked on their record.

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng, who spearheaded the Assembly’s attempts during her last tenure, proposed a resolution in Congress this month, asking local education agencies that include the city’s Department of Education to close schools that day.

“One day, we’ll look back and see that we made history,” said Councilmember Karen Koslowitz.

 

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Queens Borough President Melinda Katz sworn in by Mayor de Blasio


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Mike DiBartolomeo

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz was officially sworn into office Thursday in a star-studded political gathering.

“It’s an exciting time for me,” said Katz, in front of hundreds of supporters and a lengthy list of dignitaries. “I’m humbled and I’m honored to be the Queens Borough President.”

The 48-year-old Forest Hills mom of two was installed Jan. 9 by Mayor Bill de Blasio, with the help of Congressmember Joe Crowley.

“I have to tell you that Melinda brings so much to this job,” de Blasio said. “She has a real passion for the people she serves. She loves this borough. I can tell you that because I’ve seen her stand up for Queens many times.”

The mayor said the “exemplary” and diverse borough “epitomizes the American Dream.”

“Melinda Katz gets to be the person who brings all those beautiful strengths together and makes this borough work for the people,” de Blasio said.

The newly elected borough president, dedicating the night to her parents, took her oath of office with her hand upon her father’s copy of the Old Testament.

Crowley, citing Biblical figures, said he hoped for Katz “the wisdom of Moses, the leadership of Joshua and the valor and the strength of Esther.”

“She possesses many of those qualities and more,” Crowley said. “We’re going to have the opportunity to see her grow.”

The standing-room-only ceremony at Queens College’s Lefrak Concert Hall also featured U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, Public Advocate Letitia James, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and dozens of Queens legislators.

Katz’s partner, Curtis Sliwa, and the couple’s two sons, Carter and Hunter, watched from the audience.

Katz, a former member of the City Council and state Assembly, was elected Nov. 5 to be the 19th borough president of Queens. She succeeds Helen Marshall, who held the seat since 2001.

Her plans for the borough include making the Rockaway ferry permanent and pushing for more primary and urgent care facilities.

“Let’s move it forward,” Katz said. “Let’s make it a place for families to have everything they need right here in the borough of Queens.”

“My only wish is I never let you down,” Katz said.

 

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Longtime Queens borough president aide to retire


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy Dominick Totino Photography

The right-hand woman to the last two Queens borough presidents is retiring after 30 years in Borough Hall.

Alexandra Rosa, chief of staff to Borough Presidents Claire Shulman and Helen Marshall, will leave at year’s end. She plans to transition into the nonprofit sector.

“I feel that it’s time to move to the next stage of my life, and I’m happy to do that,” she said. “I’m grateful and honored to have had the opportunity to serve the borough of Queens.”

Rosa, 59, helped Marshall develop strategies for investing more than $650 million in capital budget items over a decade. She also played a key role in strengthening the public library system and expanding the borough’s cultural centers.

“So much of the borough has changed,” Rosa said. “We’ve gone through tremendous struggles. On the other hand, we’ve seen tremendous triumph.”

The top aide said Queens, like the rest of the city, was rocked by Sept.11, Superstorm Sandy, a recession and foreclosures.

But the borough came out swinging, with more senior housing, the renaissance of downtown Jamaica and new economic potential unleashed “through the power of zoning,” Rosa said, pointing to newly approved developments in Willets Point and western Queens.

On a smaller platform, the newly opened Children’s Library Discovery Center, a 14,000-square-foot hands-on science and technology-focused exhibit in Jamaica, was one of the most memorable for the outgoing aide.

“It’s something I was able to participate in from its earliest stage of an idea to opening and seeing children engage in exploring the exhibits that were there,” Rosa said. “That was a real beginning-to-end experience.”

Marshall is term-limited and will give up the seat she held since 2001 to Melinda Katz.

Earlier this month, Katz tapped Councilmember Leroy Comrie to be her deputy borough president and Jay Bond, a former longtime aide, as chief of staff.

Rosa said the new administration under Katz will take the borough to the next level and continue the path of progress.

“I’m going to miss working for some really great people. We’ve done some tremendous things together,” Rosa said. “Life is about change, and this is a new phase that I’m embracing.”

 

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NY Comptroller DiNapoli: ‘Queens is a New York success story’


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

Queens is on a roll and isn’t stopping any time soon, according to New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

“Queens is a New York success story,” DiNapoli said. “Superstorm Sandy impacted thousands of Queens residents, but the borough is on the recovery path. With a strong economy, a fast growing and diverse population, and several large projects on the horizon, Queens is booming.”

DiNapoli gathered with local elected officials and community leaders at Silvercup Studios in Long Island City Friday to release an economic snapshot of Queens, revealing how the borough has made an economic comeback over the past two years since the Great Recession.

According to the report, since 2012 the borough has had the highest level of employment among all the boroughs outside of Manhattan as private sector employment reached its highest recorded level of 486, 160 jobs. The largest employment sectors in Queens include health care, social assistance, transportation and, warehousing and retail trade.

“A look around the communities of Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside and Astoria show what Comptroller DiNapoli’s excellent report illustrates – that the economy of Queens is back on track,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer.

The borough’s population has also grown by 20 percent over the past three decades, more than the citywide growth rate, according to the report.

The state comptroller’s economic snapshot also found that Queens is the most diverse large county in the United States, with immigrants from more than 120 countries making 48 percent of residents, with not a single dominant ethnic group.

In 2011, the borough had 44,070 business establishments with small businesses leading in the area, according to the report.

The report also found unemployment to be lower in the borough compared to the rest of the city. The unemployment rate averaged 8.3 percent in 2012 and in the first eight months of 2013 dropped to 7.8 percent.

“These numbers show that Queens has weathered the worst of the storm,” said Queens Borough President-elect Melinda Katz. “With nearly half a million Queens workers fueling growth and innovation in the private sector, our borough has moved past the Great Recession that gripped the entire country in recent years, As Borough President, I will build on the successful work of state leaders like Comptroller DiNapoli to ensure we continue creating jobs and growing the economy for all New Yorkers.”

Together with the number of jobs and low unemployment rate, film and television production have both been thriving in the borough. Silvercup Studios, with 410,000 square feet of space and 19 soundstages, is the biggest studio space in the city and Kaufman Astoria Studios has seven soundstages and the city’s only outdoor movie set.

“I just think that film and television production is a mutual part of New York and Queens and of surrounding areas and it provides jobs,” said actor Michael J. Fox, who is filming “The Michael J. Fox Show” at Silvercup Studios. “I want to voice whatever support I can to continue nurturing film and television production in New York, it’s a big part of the city. “

 

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Katz names Leroy Comrie as deputy borough president


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Borough President-elect Melinda Katz has tapped a former primary election foe to be her right-hand man.

Katz named outgoing Councilmember Leroy Comrie as deputy borough president and Jay Bond, a former longtime aide, as chief of staff on December 3.

“From the beginning, this campaign was about empowering working families and making life better for every Queens resident,” Katz said in a statement. “Jay’s years of experience in the public and private sectors and Leroy’s long history of leadership in Queens will be essential as we build the most open, inclusive and transparent transition in Queens history.”

Bond served 10 years with Katz as her senior policy advisor in the City Council.

Comrie ran against Katz this year in the crowded race for Borough Hall, but dropped his bid in July “due to personal matters.”

The southeast Queens representative was locked in a heated Democratic primary battle with Katz, Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. and State Senator Tony Avella, who also later exited.

“He’s a good man, and Queens is lucky to have him,” Vallone told The Courier.

Avella declined to comment.

Comrie, first elected in 2002, was serving his final term in the City Council this year due to term limits.

He was rumored to exit the race late in May, when the Queens County Democratic Party and several leaders in Comrie’s district, including the Reverend Floyd Flake, endorsed Katz.

“Now more than ever, Queens needs Melinda’s vision for a more prosperous and equitable borough,” Comrie said upon his appointment. “Over the 20 years I’ve spent working with her, Melinda has proven herself a tireless and honest public servant with a real plan to move our borough forward.”

“That’s why I’m thrilled to assist her administration, and work tirelessly over the coming weeks to ensure Queens residents are represented by the best possible team in Borough Hall,” he continued.

 

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Bill would limit when registered lobbyists could run for office


| mchan@queenscourier.com

State Senator Tony Avella, taking a shot at two newly elected officials, introduced a bill that would limit when registered lobbyists could run for office.

Legislation the lawmaker announced last week would prohibit former registered lobbyists from running for city or state office for two years from the time they leave their firms.

Elected lobbyists could have a “distinct and unequal advantage” when it comes to influence, access and money, Avella said.

“It’s no question we have to reduce the amount of influence lobbyists have,” he said. “The less influence, the better.”

Queens Borough President-elect Melinda Katz and Councilmember-elect Paul Vallone are registered as New York City lobbyists — a fact Avella said was not lost on him when he was running against Katz for borough president.

Avella also supported Vallone’s primary opponent, Paul Graziano.

The senator said he spoke to widely known good government groups on the bill, though he did not specify which organizations supported it.

“I thought the bill was appropriate. I think that it’s something we should do in the future,” Avella said. “If elected officials and their staff are prohibited from working as registered lobbyists for a period of time after their term or employment has ended, why isn’t the reverse true?”

The bill, which Avella says is the first of its kind, was referred to the Senate’s Rules Committee on July 1. If passed, it would take effect immediately.

 

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Melinda Katz wins election to become next Queens borough president


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

Former legislator Melinda Katz will be the next Queens borough president.

“We sent a message from the moment I announced my candidacy that we are a borough of diversity, and that is an asset,” Katz said. “It is not a flaw in the borough of Queens and the City of New York.”

The Democrat and heavy favorite in the race trounced her two challengers Tuesday with 80.3 percent, according to unofficial results, as 96 percent of precincts were reporting.

Republican Tony Arcabascio netted 17.1 percent and third-party candidate Everly Brown, who came in last in the Democratic primary, took in 2.6 percent on the Jobs & Education line, early tallies showed.

The seat was held by Helen Marshall since 2001. The longtime incumbent and borough’s first black president is term-limited this year.

She endorsed Katz, who served in the Assembly and City Council and was the director of community boards for former Borough President Claire Schulman.

Katz will be the 19th Queens borough president.

“Every borough president has their own way about them,” Katz said. “I’m excited about the future. Helen Marshall has served this borough for over 30 years as a public official, 20 years before that as a civil rights advocate and an educator. I will continue her work, but I also have my own priorities and I look forward to working for those.”

As results trickled in on election night, the Forest Hills mom of two was surrounded by supporters at her victory party held at the Queens Democratic Party’s headquarters on Austin Street.

“We have had a whole gamut of support,” she said, attributing her victory in major part to the County organization. “I am extremely excited to be the next borough president. I’m glad the people of Queens put faith into my candidacy, and I will be very grateful to them.”

The strong finish was anticipated this time, unlike the grueling September primary election Katz faced against Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr.

In the contentious race, Katz ended up beating the longtime Astoria lawmaker by about 13,000 votes, according to official Board of Elections results.

Katz said her Borough Hall plans include making the Rockaway ferry permanent and creating a hotline for storm victims to get up-to-date information on the rebuilding process.

She also said she will push for more primary and urgent care facilities, expand tax incentives for new or expanding businesses that hire locally and fund the growth of 1,000 more trees.

Katz said it her job to “make sure that we not only get equal assets here in Queens, but we bring more money back to the borough of Queens because that is what we deserve here.”

With additional reporting by Terence M. Cullen

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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Republican BP candidate Arcabascio outlines plans if elected


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Aurelio “Tony” Arcabascio, Republican candidate for Borough President, said he has been painted as a Republican “one percenter” throughout his campaign.

“I drive a Honda, my parents are immigrants. Who is this one percent you’re talking about,” he asked.

Arcabascio, a project manager for North Shore-LIJ Health System, will face off against Melinda Katz on Tuesday, November 5.

Over the months leading up to the general election, Arcabascio has been going to community board meetings, civic meetings and more.

“You have to talk to people. You have to let them know who you are and that you’re not just a name on the ballot,” he said.

Although he does not have political experience, he said his small business background, healthcare work, management experience and knowledge of his would-be constituents create a recipe for success.

Arcabascio talked to The Courier about many current, pressing issues in the borough. Regarding education, he said he is against co-locations, not a fan of charter schools and an advocate for building new schools.

School and neighborhood safety were also a concern. Arcabascio mentioned P.S. 232 in Lindenwood, and said speed bumps need to be put in around the school’s busy area.

“What you need is somebody to say, ‘I want a speed bump there before something happens, because when something happens, I’m holding you responsible,’” he said.

He also hopes to revamp health care in the borough, and believes his experience at North Shore-LIJ will help him do so. For his staff, if elected, he would hope to appoint a Democrat as his Deputy Borough President.

For small businesses, he hopes to provide incentives for them to survive the fated first year, such as using Borough Hall to expedite city permits and applications.

“If we don’t get businesses open, they don’t hire people, they don’t get sales, we don’t collect taxes,” he said. “It’s a vicious cycle. Our job is to make them survive.”

He is for a soccer stadium in the borough, but not in Flushing Meadows- Corona Park. He also pledged to “work four years” to eliminate the toll going into the Rockaways.

“We need a change in this office,” he said. “Unfortunately, when you look at it, it’s been 20 years of malaise in Queens.”

 

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Parents, pols fight Queens co-locations


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Office of Councilmember Leroy Comrie

Parents and pols aren’t ready for their schools to squeeze into one building.

Twenty-three co-locations have been proposed within the next four years for schools in Queens, 10 of those in the southeast community.

The Department of Education (DOE) is proposing Q297 join J.H.S 226; and P.S. 233, New Transfer High School join August Martin High School and later add a Success Academy elementary charter school.

Parent Takia Moore said she chose J.H.S. 226 for her daughter because it stood alone without a high school, and was “under the impression that my child would be free from the peer pressure of older high school students,” she said.

“Once again, the administration has proposed a plan without taking into consideration the consequences it will have for Queens’ youth,” said Councilmember Leroy Comrie. “The proposed co-locations will force these schools to share even more resources while the standards they are required to meet continue to rise.”

Proposals also exist to truncate P.S. 174 to a kindergarten through fifth grade school; join new middle school Q287 with J.H.S. 008 and York Early College Academy; and co-locate J.H.S. 72 and P.S. 993.

“Forcing more schools into a single building is not the solution,” said Councilmember Donovan Richards. “When more students are squeezed into fewer classrooms, some children get left behind.”

Success Academy Charter School additionally hopes to co-locate with I.S. 59 and P.S. 176, and there are plans to co-locate five magnet high schools in District 29.

“The Bloomberg Administration’s tone-deafness is on full display in Queens,” said Melinda Katz, Borough President candidate. “By starving, co-locating, and closing public schools in low-income neighborhoods just to cozy up to the charter school lobby, this administration is hurting our students and robbing our city of talent we will need in the next generation of workers and leaders.”

For more information on proposed co-locations within the borough, click here. Hearings will be held for all individual proposals. Dates can also be found on the DOE website.

“We need an immediate freeze on co-locations, until a new mayoral administration takes the reins and reevaluates the long-term effectiveness of the policy,” Katz said.

 

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Katz outlines plan to ‘Green Queens’ if elected borough president


| mchan@queenscourier.com

One thousand new trees would grow in Queens and government rooftops would be painted an energy-saving white should Melinda Katz win her bid to lead the borough.

The former legislator outlined her “Plan for a Green Queens” on Tuesday, September 3 with her newest supporter, the New York League of Conservation Voters.

“With a total absence of federal legislation on environmental issues, there is a real need for local leaders to step in and fill the vacuum,” Katz said.

The candidate said she would use her borough presidency to allocate more park space, make Queens government buildings more energy efficient and lead regular electronic waste drives.

“These are simple steps we can take locally that will improve our environment globally,” Katz said. “That’s the innovative approach our borough needs as we fight to create green jobs and expand the green-collar industry in Queens.”

She would also dedicate indoor and street recycling bins — a spin on a different initiative her Democratic opponent proposed last month.

Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., who is facing off with Katz in a tight primary, said in August he would fund and install placards on trash cans given through the city’s volunteer “Adopt-A-Basket” program.

He also joined the White Roof Project in June to paint low-income and nonprofit roofs in Astoria with solar-reflective white coating.

 

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VIDEO: Vallone releases first campaign commercial in BP race


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Video via Vimeo

Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., who is in a tight race with Melinda Katz for Queens borough president, has released his first campaign commercial. He is also the first borough president candidate to come out with a television ad.

Peter F. Vallone Jr. for Queens Borough President from Roberts Horowitz Creative on Vimeo.

 

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Candidates come out to Rockaway Beach


| editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Benjamin Fang

BENJAMIN FANG

Political candidates recently spoke at the Friends of Rockaway Beach forum, where they affirmed their commitment to address the needs of the Rockaway community.

Mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner headlined the forum for the district he once represented in Congress. Democratic mayoral candidates Comptroller John Liu, former Councilmember Sal Albanese and Republicans John Catsimatidis and Joe Lhota also made their cases to the voters.

Borough President candidates Melinda Katz and State Senator Tony Avella, Councilmember Eric Ulrich and his challengers Lew Simon and William Ruiz, and Public Advocate candidates Letitia James and Cathy Guerriero also addressed the packed room.

“We’re going to ask them to tell us their plans for our beaches, our boardwalk, our play areas,” said John Cori, co-president of Friends of Rockaway Beach and the organizer of the event. “We need to hold our elected officials accountable.”

The candidates talked about greater protection for the beach, improving transportation to and from Rockaway and giving the community a greater voice in City Hall.

Weiner, recently scandalized once more for “sexting,” slammed City Hall for creating “hipster-looking concessions” on the beach rather than restoring it. He also demanded extended ferry service, which is set to end by Labor Day.

“Rockaway might be this far away place to City Hall, but it won’t be if I’m mayor,” he said.
Katz then questioned the city’s readiness and response to Sandy, a topic the audience was hoping to discuss.

“Where are the double dunes that will protect the homes?” asked Katz. “Where’s the evacuation plan?”

She also talked about investing in the Rockaways and building it “better than it was.”
Avella blasted both Katz and Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., two leading candidates for Borough President, for their voting records while in the City Council.

Avella’s plan for the Rockaways includes giving the area a railroad line, getting rid of tolls and 24 hours of bus service.

Ulrich touted his record in the City Council and stressed how participatory budgeting gave way to success.

“In those four-and-a-half years, I’ve been able to secure, with your help, millions and millions of dollars in capital improvements and programming for senior centers, for schools, for libraries, to keep our firehouses open,” he said.

His challenger, Simon, gave an impassioned speech about the devastated community and the need to rebuild it.

“There’s no boardwalk. There are no benches. There’s nothing here!” said Simon. “I want to be chair of the Parks and Recreation committee. I want to make sure our boardwalk is built.”

Other candidates for mayor and public advocate also courted the Rockaway vote and spoke about focusing on the Rockaways if elected.

 

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