Tag Archives: Michael Bloomberg

Select Bus Service coming to LaGuardia Airport


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of the MTA

A faster commute is in the future for Woodside and Jackson Heights straphangers traveling to LaGuardia Airport, the city’s top transit leaders announced last week.

Three Select Bus Service routes — said to bring faster and more reliable service to the boroughs with its streamlined stops and pay-before-boarding feature — are slated to be launched from Manhattan, the Bronx and Queens, beginning as soon as next year, officials said.

“Select Bus Service improves travel times, enhances safety and increases ridership wherever we have installed it,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “This new Select Bus Service to LaGuardia will not only cut travel time for people flying in and out of New York, but it will also benefit New Yorkers who commute to work at the airport every day from Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx.”

There are currently four existing Select Bus Service routes in the city — two in Manhattan, one in the Bronx and one in Staten Island, according to the MTA.

The M60 Select Bus Service route — via 125th Street in Manhattan — is being proposed as one of the new routes, as is one from Woodside and Jackson Heights, via the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. The third being explored is a Select Bus Service route from Webster Avenue in the Bronx, said officials, who are looking to connect the three boroughs and improve local bus service in all three areas.

“LaGuardia Airport is a transportation hub and a city unto itself that needs a better connection to the transit network and the region’s economy,” said Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. “These routes will open the terminal doors to new neighborhoods and bring more reliable local service to people across three boroughs.”

The borough’s northwest airport is currently only directly served by five bus routes, including four in Queens and one in Manhattan that authorities say is often choked by traffic and crammed with commuters. The fast-track bus routes, they say, are expected to shave off 10 to 40 minutes in travel time.

City officials — who are also looking into implementing bus-only lanes in some areas and installing technology that would keep buses from getting stuck at traffic lights — say they are still in the public meeting process of refining the three exact routes, its stop locations and service features.

Bloomberg’s wealth grows, now 10th richest American, says Forbes


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo credit Edward Reed

Forbes unveiled its list of the 400 richest Americans which featured Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has seen his fortune continue to grow, the same day census data showed the disparity between the rich and poor in the city continues to widen.

Bloomberg came in at number 10 on the annual list with a net worth of $25 billion, more than a 25 percent increase from last year when he was only the 12th richest American.

The average net worth on the list jumped from $3.8 billion last year to $4.2 billion, for a combined total of $1.7 trillion in the hands of the 400 wealthiest Americans.

The list, which was released yesterday, featured more than 50 New Yorkers. The mayor — whose fortune stems from Bloomberg LP — topped some notable city residents on the money list, including: Rupert Murdoch, $9.4 billion, Ralph Lauren, $6.5 billion, and Donald Trump, $3.1 billion.

The third-term mayor does not keep all his cash to himself; Forbes estimated he has given away nearly $4 billion to support public health, the environment, the arts and education over the years.

Bill Gates topped the list with $66 billion, followed by Warren Buffet and Larry Ellison.

 

Large soda ban approved by Board of Health


| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Terence Cullen

Thousand of signed petitions and public outcry could not stop the Board of Health from approving Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to ban large sugary beverages in the city.

Under the ban — which applies to restaurants, food carts, delis and concessions at movie theaters, stadiums and arenas — establishments will be unable to sell sugary drinks over 16 ounces. Diet sodas, drinks with more than 50 percent milk or 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice avoid the restriction.

“The fix was in from the beginning, and the mayor’s handpicked board followed their orders by passing this discriminatory ban; but it has not passed with the support of New Yorkers,” said Liz Berman, chair of New Yorkers for Beverage Choices, a group financed by the soda industry. “It’s sad that the board wants to limit our choices. We are smart enough to make our own decisions about what to eat and drink.”

The board — which voted 8-0 on the measure with one abstention — consists of 11 members appointed by Bloomberg.

New Yorkers for Beverage Choices said they will explore all avenues to overturn this ruling, including taking it to court.

Bloomberg introduced the embargo in May, citing increasing obesity in the city — the second leading cause of death.

“This is the biggest step a city has taken to curb obesity,” said Bloomberg. “Simply by proposing limits on sugary drinks, New York City pushed the issue of obesity — and the impact of sugary beverages — onto the national stage.”

Polls released by the New York Times and Quinnipiac in August found a majority of New Yorkers were sour on the sugary beverage ban.

“I think it’s stupid,” said Kimberly Cicciariello, 23, of Flushing. “People need to control their own portion sizes. It’s as stupid a person blaming McDonald’s for making them fat.”

In a release, New Yorkers for Beverage Choices said the sweetened beverage prohibition shows “no regard for public opinion.” The organization collected more than 285,000 signatures in opposition to the ban.

Bloomberg pointed to the many who were also against the trans fat and smoking ban in restaurants at the time they were introduced.

Not all New Yorkers — including many anti-obesity organizations and residents — are opposed to the ban.

“I support it. I think obesity’s a real problem, particularly among low-income folks. I think they drink so much of it because it’s so cheap and available. Then the city has to pay for their health care anyway,” said Kevin Dugan, 40, of Bayside.

Soda drinkers can still circumvent the ban by ordering multiple drinks.

Restaurants will have six months to implement the ban after which they face $200 fines.

— Additional reporting by Mitchell Kirk

Ridgewood plaza a reality


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

The proposed plan for Ridgewood’s 71st Avenue Triangle will become a reality when a temporary pedestrian plaza is installed where the road meets Myrtle Avenue and Stephen Street.

This project furthers Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to create public, open plazas throughout the city.

Ridgewood residents and area business owners met Tuesday night, September 4, with the city Department of Transportation (DOT) and officials from the Local Development Corp., Business Improvement District (BID) and Community Board 5 to brainstorm designs for the temporary plaza.

“We need to improve Myrtle Avenue,” said John Mistretta, the original owner of Joe and John’s Pizzeria, which has been open on Myrtle Avenue for nearly five decades.

Mistretta believes that with this new pedestrian plaza, people will be encouraged to come and walk around more frequently, hopefully restoring the success of the area’s retail businesses.

“We need to make it more like it was 40 years ago. There was a big, main shopping area, now it’s slowed down,” he said.

Along with promoting local businesses, the 71st Avenue Triangle was chosen as the plaza site because of its proximity to bus transit. The change will also widen crosswalks, hopefully eliminating any pedestrian-vehicle conflict.

Emily Weidenhof, project manager for the DOT, said that the installation will not affect any emergency response time, traffic will be minimally impacted, and any parking spots lost will be reclaimed on the opposite side of Myrtle Avenue.

Weidenhof encouraged those at Tuesday’s meeting to discuss among themselves just what was needed for the temporary plaza. She noted a need for pedestrian crossings, convenient seating, good lighting and continued maintenance.

“Your input is extremely important. That’s what helps these things meet your needs,” Weidenhof told the crowd. “If we get to the community, we can come back to enhance it in a more permanent condition later on.” In order to promote and enhance the temporary site, plans of public art forums and street fairs were discussed. The Ridgewood BID will be responsible for maintenance of the area, and business owners expressed a need for public trash and recycle bins.

The DOT, Ridgewood LDC and BID are continuing to work with local business owners and residents to accommodate all of their needs. If the temporary plaza proves successful in the community, a permanent site will be established by early next year.

“Build something, more people will come down,” said Mistretta. “We gotta give it to the people, to get it back.”

 

Theaters say Bloomy’s soda ban will hurt bottom line


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Terence Cullen

Many businesses — and soda drinkers alike — are hoping that Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed soda ban will fizzle out.

Russell Levinson, the general manager of MovieWorld in Douglaston Plaza, said the rules under the ban were unfair and would severely hurt his theatre’s business.

“It’s hitting us disproportionately — movie theatres and fast food chains will be the most affected,” he said.

The theatre, along with other businesses, has signed a citywide petition against the suggested ban. At press time, 183,463 individuals and 2,002 organizations have signed it.

Levinson then posted the petition on the theater’s website. Another way to catch the interest of moviegoers was the theatre’s marque. For several weeks, the line “say no to the soda ban” sat on the bottom marque — under the list of this summer’s top blockbusters.

Levinson said the efforts might not amount to much, but was hopeful that there might be some final decision or compromise that would washout the ban.

“I don’t have a lot of confidence that we’re going to be successful, but maybe there will be some last minute miracle,” he said.

Bloomberg said at a Tuesday, August 28 press conference that his administration was not changing any rules in the soda ban.

“If you ask the question, ‘Should we ban full-sugar drinks?’ you get the answer, ‘No,’” Bloomberg told The Wall Street Journal. “Unfortunately for your story line, that’s not what we’re doing. All we’re doing is saying that restaurants and movie theaters can’t use greater than 16-ounce cups. But if you want to buy five of them and drink it, you can go ahead and do it. So, nobody’s hurting anything.”

The smallest size soda at MovieWorld, which is independently owned, is the “kids” size that is 12 ounces, Levinson said. The theatre’s size small is 22 ounces, Levinson said, and would be way over the limit set under the ban.

“Your smallest kids size would just make it,” he said. “Everything will have to be changed and [soda companies] will have to come up with new alternatives as well.”

MovieWorld, like many other theaters, does not profit from ticket sales; rather, concession sales — popcorn, candy, nachos and soda — account for the theatre’s main revenue.

“You only make profit in concession,” he said. “Your popcorn and your soda are your two biggest sales and your two biggest profit margins. We will have to be very creative if this goes through.”

While fighting obesity is a good idea to Levinson, the theatre manager said banning soda from movies and restaurants was not the best way to go about it.

“I just think it’s the wrong way to go about fighting obesity,” he said. “I don’t think it attacks the problem where it should be. Soda is maybe 10 percent of somebody’s diet at most.”

JetBlue sign lights up LIC


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the mayor's office

Queens has a new guiding light after the flip was switched on a JetBlue sign in the airlines new home, Long Island City.

Local leaders joined JetBlue executives turning on the nearly 40-foot tall sign that sits atop the Brewster Building.

“New York City’s iconic skyline is a little brighter tonight, thanks to the success of JetBlue,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “It’s a great day for a company when it sees its name written in lights at the center of the global economy, and the new sign announces loud and clear that Long Island City is a world-class place to do business and create jobs.”

JetBlue is the largest domestic carrier at JFK, the mayor said, aiding in the city’s record-breaking tourism numbers.

The sign was designed as an honor to Long Island City’s other iconic landmarks, including the Pepsi and Silvercup symbols that welcome visitors journeying over the Queensboro Bridge. The sign will light up blue during the day and shine white at night, according to JetBlue spokesperson Allison Steinberg.

A zoning amendment was approved by the city council in April allowing the erection of the sign.

“The arrival of JetBlue in Long Island City is a milestone in the transformation of Queens Plaza, the gateway to Queens,” said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer. “As this area continues to develop into one of New York City’s foremost neighborhoods to do business, I know JetBlue will continue to light the way for others who will choose to call Long Island City home.”

— Additional reporting by Alexa Altman

Mayor unveils most popular baby names in New York City


| brennison@queenscourier.com

mom and baby-face to face

Jayden is the new Michael in New York City.

For the fourth consecutive year, Jayden topped the list of the most popular boys’ names in New York City. The top girls’ name in the city in 2011 was Isabella for the third straight year.

Michael, the most popular name in the city between 1980 and 2006, ended up fifth on the list.

Isabella Pal and Jayden Alexander Marthone, both born in the city last year, flanked Mayor Michael Bloomberg during the announcement this morning and took home some gifts: a “Made in NY” T-shirt and a New York City bib.

“A baby born in New York City has a life expectancy 2.5 years longer than the national average, in no small part due to our bold public health initiatives,” said Bloomberg. “This means we can expect to see many of the very popularly named Isabellas and Jaydens – like these two little ones with us today – more than 80 years from now.”

Among the top 10 girls’ names, nine repeated from 2010, while eight were the same among boys, though in a slightly altered order.  Aiden and Alexander joined the boys’ top 10 and the girls’ added Sofia — a variation of the number two girls’ name Sophia.

The number of babies born in New York City dipped slightly from 2010 to 2011, down 1.4 percent from 124,791 to 123,029 (62,808 boys and 60,221 girls), according to the mayor’s office.

The rest of the boys’ top 10 included: Jacob, Ethan, Daniel, Michael, Matthew, Justin, David, Aiden and Alexander.  The girls’ list was rounded out with: Sophia, Olivia, Emma, Mia, Emily, Madison, Leah, Chloe and Sofia.

Gunman shot dead after killing former colleague near Empire State Building; 9 others wounded


| brennison@queenscourier.com

-2147460902

Two are dead — including the gunman — and nine bystanders wounded at a shootout outside the Empire State Building.

Recently fired Jeffrey Johnson, 53, stationed himself outside his former employers, Hazan Imports, and fatally wounded a 41-year-old former colleague.

After opening fire on the victim, Johnson fled northbound; a construction worker spotted him and alerted officers near the Empire State Building.

As the cops approached the suspect, Johnson fired at them.  The police returned fire, killing Johnson, said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

“This is a terrible tragedy and there’s no doubt the situation would have been even more tragic of not for the extraordinary acts of heroism actions of some police officers,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said about two hours after the shooting.

The nine victims were all taken to area hospitals and are expected to survive, the mayor said.

It is unclear at the moment if the victims were hit by the police or the suspect.

The disgruntled former employee was let go about a year ago from the women’s apparel company.

 

 

 

Queens Morning Roundup


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Today’s Forecast:

Friday: Sunny, with a high near 90. North wind around 7 mph becoming east in the afternoon. Friday night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 73. Southeast wind 5 to 7 mph.

EVENT of the DAY: Dunningham Triangle Visioning Day

Stop by Dunningham Triangle to share your design ideas with the NYC Parks Department and the 82nd Street Partnership. What do you like about Dunningham Triangle and how can it be made better? Tell them your ideas!

Click here for more info or submit an event of your own

Former Queens Little League coach pleads guilty to sexually abusing minors

A former Little League coach of the year pleaded guilty to sexually abusing players on his team. David Hartshorn, a former coach at the Rochdale Village Little League, was arrested and charged in February with having sexual contact with three boys, ages 13 and 14, at his Rochdale Village home between July 2009 and January 2011. He was also accused of showing child pornography to minors and filming two teens engaged in sex acts. Read more: Queens Courier

Armstrong Drops Fight Against Doping Charges

After more than a decade of outrunning accusations that he had doped during his celebrated cycling career, Lance Armstrong, one of the most well-known and accomplished athletes in history, finally surrendered on Thursday, etching a dark mark on his legacy by ending his fight against charges that he used performance-enhancing drugs. Read more: NY Times

Mayor Offers Ideas for Why Homeless Numbers Are Up

Asked about a sharp rise in the number of homeless people in New York City’s shelter system, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg suggested Thursday that people were staying in shelters longer in part because the shelters were “much more pleasurable” than they used to be, making people less eager to leave. Read more: NY Times

Strippers look to GOP to ‘make it rain’

Many clubs have taken out ads inviting GOP delegates “to party like a liberal” in a city where the “poles are open all night.” City officials say the convention, expected to draw more than 50,000 visitors, could be Tampa’s biggest party ever. Imagine all those rainmakers. Read more: CNN

Olympic gold medalist Douglas throws out first pitch at Mets game

History-making 16-year-old gold medal gymnast Gabby Douglas was on TV with Jay Leno and David Letterman. Sat and chatted with Oprah Winfrey. Met First Lady Michelle Obama. And yesterday she threw out the first pitch at the Mets game. Read more: NY Post

Incumbent Queens Senator’s endorsements are called into question as contentious primary nears

An endorsement controversy has emerged in a contentious Queens primary. The Daily News has learned that a clergy member and several unions that were touted on campaign material as favoring District 10 incumbent state Sen. Shirley Huntley are actually remaining neutral for the Sept. 13 vote. Read more: Daily News

Cornell Tech campus now accepting applications


| brennison@queenscourier.com

File photo

Applications are now being accepted to be among the first class at Cornell University’s tech campus in New York City.

The highly selective “beta” Cornell NYC Tech class will begin school in Januay; applications for the Masters of Engineering program are due by October 1.

“We’re calling this the ‘beta’ class because these students will help shape the future of this new educational institution,” said Daniel Huttenlocher, dean of the tech campus. “Candidates for the beta class must be future tech leaders, with not only the highest academic credentials but also strong entrepreneurial interests, leadership skills and a passion for community engagement.”

The campus will temporarily be housed in Chelsea, in space donated by Googe, before moving to its permanent Roosevelt Island home in 2017.

“If you are an engineer who wants to live in the best city of the world, the new capital of engineering talent, and the rising star of the technology industry, Cornell NYC Tech offers an exciting new opportunity,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “There’s simply no better place to further your education and launch your career than New York City. Getting in won’t be easy, but if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.”

The intensive program in computer science — with a tuition of $43,185 — is a one-year, two-semester, professional degree program designed to enhance practical skills in computer science.

Students will be mentored by both a faculty advisor and an industry coach, and their projects will be connected with New York City companies, nonprofit organizations, or relevant industry-oriented activities, according to the Cornell Tech website.

Additional one-year programs are planned in electrical and computer engineering, information science, and operations research and information engineering.

 

NY voters split on stop-and-frisk, against soda ban


| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

New Yorkers dislike of the mayor’s proposed soda ban has grown, while city voters support of stop-and-frisk is split along racial lines, according to a new poll.

Half of New York City voters questioned in a recent Quinnipiac poll said they disapproved of the controversial police practice, though a large disparity persisted between black and white voters.

More than two thirds of black voters (69 percent) opposed stop-and-frisks, while 57 percent of white voters supported it. Fifty-three percent of Hispanic voters also approved the practice.

Though there was a difference in support of stop-and-frisk, all races approved of the job Police Commissioner Ray Kelly is doing.

The poll was conducted between August 8 and 12 with 1,298 New York City voters surveyed on land lines and cell phones. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 2.7 percentage points.

Voters are against Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to ban sugary beverages over 16 ounces with 54 percent opposing it and 42 percent in support. The opposition has grown since a June poll found 51 percent against the plan and 46 percent for it.

“New Yorkers are smart enough to make their own choices about what to eat and drink without government help,” said New Yorkers for Beverage Choices spokesperson, Eliot Hoff.

Bloomberg’s push to make baby formula less available to new mothers was opposed by 56 percent of voters with just 24 percent in favor of it.

“Voters disagree with Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s push to increase breast-feeding and to limit the size of sugary drinks, but they like the idea of cracking down on alcohol abuse,” Carroll said. “Overall, New Yorkers give Hizzoner good grades on public-health as they reject the criticism that it’s ‘nanny government.’”

There is also strong support from New Yorkers (73-20 percent) to provide employees sick days, a plan Council Speaker Christine Quinn said she is not ready to bring to a vote.

 

NYC bike share program delayed…again


| brennison@queenscourier.com

File photo

A month after the mayor announced a delay in the city’s new bike share program, another postponement will push the roll out back to next spring.

Originally planned for a late July, early August launch, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said today on his weekly radio show with John Gambling the target date for the Citi Bike program is now March.

“Unfortunately there are software issues,” Bloomberg said. “Until it works we’re not going to put it out.”

Software problems were also responsible for the original delay.

“While we are eager for Citi Bike to begin, it’s more crucial that this ground-breaking transit system be launched correctly, not quickly,” said Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives.

Manufacturing and testing continue on the necessary software to operate the system, the DOT said.

Seven thousand bikes are planned at 420 stations throughout the five boroughs when the program finally commences. Riders will be able to rent bikes short term for a small fee or with a $95 annual membership. In Queens, there will be 10 stations in Long Island City with the other stations scattered throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn.

“While the delay may have been caused by poor planning and software problems, the city should take this opportunity to address the remaining safety issues associated with the plan in order to lower the number of accidents and fatalities that may result from the Bike Share program,”said a spokesperson for Comptroller John Liu.

In June, the comptroller released a report endorsing safety-enhancing efforts to avoid accidents and lawsuits.

Citi’s $41 million sponsorship of the program will not be affected by the delay, the mayor said.

In a recent Quinnipiac poll 74 percent of voters thought the bike share program was a good idea.

Restorations means Rockaway’s rocking


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Rockaway is rocking its way to a promising destination for beachgoers.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe ceremoniously cut the ribbon on Monday, August 6, at the completed $30 million restoration of areas of eastern Rockaway beach.

The restoration included a 15,700-square-foot skateboard park, handball and basketball courts, playgrounds, climbing wall, performance space, water play area, synthetic turf field and accessible comfort station, according to the mayor’s office.

“Rockaway Beach has been an iconic recreational destination for more than a century,” Benepe said. “Now, thanks to Mayor Bloomberg and PlaNYC, the Far Rockaway neighborhood has new parks, playgrounds and athletic facilities that make it like a mini Jones Beach for the 21st century.”

This is one of eight projects under PlaNYC, which works on making the city greener.

The mile-long span of beach was designed to accommodate the growing residential boom in the Rockaways, according to the mayor’s office. The renovations were also designed to withstand the effects of storms and waves.

Assemblymember Philip Goldfeder, who was present at the ribbon cutting, has also secured $8 million from the city to restore the bulkhead at Beach 108th Street in Far Rockaway.

“I thank Mayor Bloomberg for allocating the necessary funding to fix the bay wall,” Goldfeder said. “We cannot take chances on the safety and protection of Rockaway families, and I am glad the mayor heard our concerns.”

Goldfeder also noted that the same area had been restored five years ago, but was now eroding for undetermined reasons.

By restoring the wall, he said, it will help prevent flooding and bring more people and economic activity to the area.

“By revitalizing this site and repairing the deteriorated bulkhead, we can create a new economic engine to help put southern Queens and the Rockaways on track toward success,” Goldfeder said. “At the same time, through repairing part of the waterfront, we can shield the bay from contaminants and better protect the community from future flooding.”

NYPD cop recovering after being shot during chase in Jamaica last night


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the NYPD

A veteran NYPD cop is recovering and in stable condition after being shot in both legs last night — the tenth officer shot this year.

Sergeant Craig Bier, who is a member of the anti-gang unit, was in Jamaica last night  and attempted to stop an individual on a bike who then fled on foot.

Brier and his partner, Detective Nick Romano, chased the suspect who ran into an alley.  Brier cut off the suspect’s escape route and they exchanged fire.  Brier, 44, was hit in both legs.  The suspect was hit once.

A fellow officer applied pressure to the wounds and Brier was taken to Jamaica Hospital.

After a search, a suspect was taken into custody.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly visited the 15-year veteran in the hospital last night.

“Another night, and another shooting of one of our Finest,” Bloomberg said. “Thank God Sergeant Bier’s injuries are non-life threatening. He is alert and in remarkably good spirits.”

Brier has been awarded a total of 65 medals, 14 for meritorious police duty, the commissioner said.

“This is the type of officer the public should thank God they have working for the New York City Police Department,” Kelly said.