Tag Archives: Melinda Katz

De Blasio announces Sandy recovery overhaul


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo: Ed Reed for the Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a major overhaul to speed up Sandy recovery Thursday, along with the release of a detailed report on the city’s response to the storm.

The report includes recommendations that are expected to provide financial relief to businesses and homeowners, and revamp current recovery programs, the mayor said, as well as details on the city’s infrastructure rebuilding and storm mitigation efforts.

“We can’t stand idly by as red tape and bureaucratic bottlenecks prevent far too many New Yorkers from getting the relief they need. That’s why, from day one, we prioritized more efficient recovery,” de Blasio said. “And now, we’ve laid out a blueprint to provide critical financial relief to homeowners and directly engage communities in the rebuilding process—all while continuing our work to ensure a stronger and more resilient New York.”

Part of the engagement process will involve appointing borough directors in Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island, who will have the authority to direct city agencies to increase community engagement and coordination, and bringing Build It Back staff directly into affected communities, according to the mayor’s administration.

“These latest announcements from the administration have brought new hope to many of our residents who have been displaced and are fighting to put their lives back together and move forward,” Borough President Melinda Katz said. “My office will continue to focus resources on the issues and challenges still outstanding for these residents, so we may collectively find solutions.”

The report additionally highlights other improvements the mayor announced last month to Build It Back, a federally-funded program to assist those whose homes, offices and other properties were damaged by Sandy.

Comptroller Scott Stringer also just announced the formation of a Sandy oversight unit and an audit of the Build It Back program.

“It is critical to have an accounting of how government has responded to this event, and what we can do to better prepare for the future,” he said.

Stringer also said that he will be holding town hall meetings in affected neighborhoods during the upcoming months to get community input on what his office should be examining as it comes up with an audit plan of issues on the city’s Sandy response.

The meetings will include the following locations in Queens, with future town halls to be announced for June:

April 30, 6-8 p.m., Bay House, 500 Bayside Dr., Breezy Point

May 20, 6-8 p.m., Mt. Carmel Baptist Church, 348 Beach 71st St., Arverne

For updates on town halls, click here.

 

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Officials announce events to mark World’s Fair anniversary


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

The “world’s borough” is ready for its six-month-long anniversary party.

Officials unveiled a long lineup of Queens events and cultural exhibits Friday to celebrate the 50th and 75th anniversaries of the 1964 and 1939 World’s Fairs held in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

Festivities begin in April and include 50-cent rides on the historic carousel and a rare tour of the iconic New York State Pavilion.

“Both [fairs] were seminal events that had wide impacts locally, nationally and internationally,” Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said. “As borough president, there isn’t anybody I speak to about the World’s Fair that doesn’t have a story about it.”

An official opening ceremony will take place at the Pavilion April 22. Visitors will be given a rare chance to slap on hard hats and tour the fair icon.

Revelers in the borough can also visit the park, near the Unisphere, May 18 for a full day of festivities and the Queens Museum for a peek into Andy Warhol’s controversial project, which was painted over before the 1964 fair’s opening day.

“With these anniversary events, we will take a look back at the fairs and a look forward to the future of Flushing Meadows – the world’s park and Queens’ backyard,” said Liam Kavanagh, the Parks Department’s first deputy commissioner.

For a full list of borough-wide events, click here.

 

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Queens Library CEO claims long hours at $114K consulting job: report


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Queens Library President and CEO Tom Galante logged a seemingly impossible amount of hours as a consultant while performing his day job, according to a published report.

A payroll review by the New York Daily News found Galante, who is currently the subject of an FBI inquiry over construction contracts, billed the Elmont School District $114,673 for work as a business consultant. During that recent seven-month period he allegedly averaged 26 hours of work per week.

At the same time, he claimed he put in an average of 70 to 80 hours a week at his public library gig, where he earns a $392,000 salary, according to the Daily News.

Galante has said that his consultant work is done during his off-hours, the publication reported, but a review of his work logs showed he billed numerous hours for the Elmont job while having a packed schedule for the library.

The CEO and the library have faced scrutiny after news reports revealed Galante’s salary and that he spent nearly $140,000 to renovate his office, while many workers have been let go in recent years.

Galante currently makes the most money of the city’s three library systems’ leaders, according to SeeThroughNY, which list how tax dollars are spent.

Borough President Melinda Katz penned a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio earlier this month, asking him to suspend the ability of the Library to spend any funds on renovations until the issues are resolved.

 

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NYS Pavilion to open to public on 50th anniversary


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

pavilion

The public will be able to get an up-close look at the  New York State Pavilion next month on the 50th anniversary of the structure’s opening.

New York State Pavilion Paint Project Crew, a group that has been painting and caring for the site since 2009, just announced that on April 22, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., the north gate of the Pavilion will be opened to allow limited access for visitors to view and take photos of the inside of the structure.

The Paint Project Crew, which helped make the opening possible along with the Parks Department, will be around to answer questions and speak about the Pavilion’s past, present and future.

RSVPs are not required. Visitors will need to wear hard hats, which will be provided.

Along with the Pavilion Paint Project Crew, community leaders and elected officials have also been advocating for the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair figure’s restoration.

Located in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, the Pavilion is in need of both external and internal repairs.

In November, the Parks Department released plans to restore it, with cost estimates starting at $43 million. An option to tear it down would cost about $14 million.

Last month, Borough President Melinda Katz declared her support for saving the structure and said she would form 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.

The first of those meetings was held on Friday, March 14, which resulted in attendees agreeing to continue working on a viable plan for the Pavilion.

Katz included the site as part of her approved package of expense and capital budget priorities for the city’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget.

It calls for $45 million in combined capital funds from state and city over four years for restoring the Pavilion, according to a spokesperson for Katz’s office.

Those funds will immediately go toward needs, such as upgrading the electrical system and installing a roof over the three towers to prevent further structural damage.

“We’re very excited to see that the borough president feels strongly enough about the project to take action and we’re just excited to see what comes of it,” said Matthew Silva, co-founder of People For the Pavilion, an advocacy group for the site’s restoration.

 

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Peter Vallone Jr. appointed to Cuomo administration


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File photo

Updated 3:40 p.m.

Former Queens Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. is joining the Cuomo administration.

Vallone, who represented the 22nd District from 2002 to 2013, has been appointed as the special assistant assigned to the commissioner of the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.

“Excited to join the team of my good friend @NYGovCuomo! Honored to be given the opportunity to work with him and serve the people of NYS,” Vallone tweeted Thursday, following the announcement.

Cuomo welcomed Vallone’s appointment, and several others he made the same day, saying the new appointees come with “dedication to public service, proven records of success, and years of experience in providing help and care to New Yorkers across the state.”

“I am confident that these new additions to our administration will continue to improve New York State,” he said.

In addition to serving as public safety committee chair during his three-terms on the council, Vallone was previously an assistant district attorney.

Last September, Vallone lost the Democratic primary for Queens borough president to Melinda Katz.

 

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City officials split on marching in St. Patrick’s Day parades


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo by Spencer Scott Nelson

St. Patrick’s Day parades citywide are creating a stir.

City officials are divided on the decision to march in this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Manhattan. But the annual Queens County St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the Rockaways brought in a slew of pols including Borough President Melinda Katz, State Senator Joseph Addabbo and Councilmember Eric Ulrich.

Last year, after the superstorm hit the Peninsula, then-mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio attended the parade. This year, the mayor did not participate.

Reports surfaced claiming de Blasio said the Rockaway parade excluded some groups, but a spokesperson clarified and cited scheduling conflicts. He participated in Sunnyside’s parade, “St. Pat’s for All.”

Last weekend’s spectacle in the borough’s “Irish Riviera” brought in iconic curly-haired dancers, marching bands, bagpipes, drummers and more.

In early February, de Blasio announced he would break tradition and additionally boycott the annual Irish celebration in Manhattan after parade officials prohibited marchers from carrying gay-pride banners.

Ulrich reacted by saying the mayor’s decision was “truly unfortunate and disappointing.”

Parade planners have said gays are not banned from joining the procession on March 17, just from declaring any sexual orientation.

Following de Blasio’s announcement, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito hopped on the boycott bandwagon and pledged to not march, but said individual councilmembers can make their own decision. Ulrich plans on marching “rain or shine.”

“The parade is a time to honor the Patron Saint of Ireland and the many contributions Irish Americans have made to our city, not anything else,” he said. “While I respect the mayor’s decision to not participate, I plan on marching rain or shine.”

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, who has said he supports gay rights, said he, too, will join the march through the city, which is reportedly expected to bring in about 1 million people.

Former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a gay Irish-Catholic, did not participate in the parade during her time in office. This year, City Comptroller Scott Stringer and Majority Leader Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer are among those who are also opting out.

 

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Katz names Queens representative on Panel for Educational Policy


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Borough President Melinda Katz

Borough President Melinda Katz has picked Deborah Dillingham of Forest Hills to serve on the city’s Panel for Educational Policy (PEP).

The 13-member board, with representatives from each borough, votes to approve school policies, many which are controversial. Each borough president appoints one member to the PEP and the mayor appoints eight.

“Through her extensive work with our city’s school system, Deborah has shown she has the knowledge, savvy and commitment necessary to be an outstanding member of the Panel for Educational Policy,” Katz said.

Dillingham was president of District 28’s Community Education Council and served on the Queens Borough President’s Parent Advisory Committee, the District 28 Leadership Team and the Chancellor’s Parent Advisory Committee.

The mom of three was also president of the Parent’s Association of P.S. 101.

“She cares deeply about our children and the schooling they receive and has a track record of making sure our kids get the best education possible,” Katz said. “I know she will be a great asset to the PEP.”

Dillingham replaces Queens Borough President Helen Marshall’s appointee, Dmytro Fedkowskyj, who battled against school closures and co-location plans under Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration.

Fedkowskyj, of Middle Village, is mulling a run against incumbent State Senator Marge Markey.

 

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Katz rebrands Queens as center of the city in speech


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Follow me @liamlaguerre

 

Queens is the center of New York City, according to new Borough President Melinda Katz, and she wants people from the “outer-boroughs” to know that.

Katz gave a patriotic lecture on Tuesday, explaining her economic initiatives and rebranding Queens as the city’s prime tourist destination.

“Manhattan should be known for recommending Queens restaurants and shopping, and all the cultural events that we have to offer,” Katz said.

Katz vowed to restart predecessor Claire Shulman’s “War Room” to help solve overcrowding in school, and also voiced her support for universal pre-kindergarten.

“Space is needed, pre-k is needed,” she said. “We need to at least have our children start on equal footing and get the education they need.”

The Borough President pledged that her administration will help future small businesses owners to navigate the process of creating their companies, and she plans to use real estate development projects to spur job growth.

She wants to assist Long Island City become the next major tech hub so more entrepreneurs, especially those graduating from the forthcoming Cornell-Technion school, stay in Queens.

Katz additionally expressed her excitement for Governor Andrew Cuomo taking the lead to renovate the area airports.

“You come to the city of New York, we should have the top flight– excuse the pun– airports in the entire world,” she said.

Turning to the Rockaways, Katz voiced support for permanent ferry service and said she wants reconstruction on the boardwalk “done before 2017.”

She also reiterated in the speech that she will save the New York State Pavilion.

“The speech hit all the right notes,” said Rob MacKay of the Queens Economic Development Corporation. “I feel that Queens is ready to steal Brooklyn’s mojo.”

 

 

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Katz commits to restoring NY State Pavilion


By Queens Courier Staff | 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


By Queens Courier Staff | 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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