Tag Archives: New York City Council

Queens advocates join annual Brides’ March to end domestic violence

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos by Kelly Marie Mancuso


Domestic violence survivors, advocates, family members and community leaders led by Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito set out from Glendale Saturday to take part in the 15th annual Gladys Ricart and Victims of Domestic Violence Memorial Brides’ March in the Bronx.

“We’re bringing attention to the fact that women are getting killed at the hands of their lovers,” Crowley said. “Domestic violence is the number one call that our police will go on, but it’s a crime that people don’t like to talk about and very often it goes unreported. We want to make sure that we don’t have another woman die at the hands of her lover.”

The annual citywide march originally began in Manhattan back in 2001 to honor Gladys Ricart, a Dominican-American woman who was murdered in her wedding dress by her abusive ex-boyfriend shortly before she was to wed her fiancé on Sept. 26, 1999.

The inspiration for the march came from Josie Ashton, a young woman so moved by Ricart’s murder that she decided to make the 1,600-mile trek from New York to her home state of Florida on foot while wearing her wedding gown in 2001, marking the second anniversary of Ricart’s death.


Council Member Elizabeth Crowley

Saturday marked the first time a contingent from Queens participated in the Brides’ March.

“Domestic violence continues to be the highest reported crime in this precinct and in this borough,” Crowley said. “In this community alone, in the very neighborhood that you are standing in, there have been 2,649 reported cases of domestic violence this year alone. In all of Queens, there have been over 14,000 reported incidents this year, and those are just the reported cases. Nobody should feel trapped in their own home.”

“We need to have these events as a way of highlighting this problem and challenge in our community,” Mark-Viverito added. “The numbers are alarming. It’s happening throughout the city.”

New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito

New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito

Crowley and Mark-Viverito were joined by marchers clad in white bridal gowns and veils in Ricart’s memory. Many held signs calling for an end to domestic violence, while some shared their own personal experiences and stories of survival.

“I think that domestic violence is far too common,” explained local poet and singer Taina Delamar. “I grew up in a household that was full of domestic violence and unfortunately a lot of my family members have been affected by it. There’s a lot of stigma attached to it, and for that reason a lot of women are hesitant to speak out and ask for help.”

Domestic violence survivor and LifeWay Network coordinator Jasmine Ortiz also shared her story during the rally.

“Twenty years ago, I was in a violent relationship and there was no support like this,” Ortiz explained. “I almost died from staying in that relationship. He kicked me and tried to stab me, but I survived for my son. Absolutely no one would help me. It touches my heart to know that there’s help now.”

After the rally, Crowley led the group of marchers down Woodhaven Boulevard to Queens Center Mall, where the group boarded an R train to join the large Bride’s March in the Bronx.

Domestic violence survivor and LifeWay Network coordinator Jasmine Ortiz  shared her personal story

Domestic violence survivor and LifeWay Network coordinator Jasmine Ortiz shares her personal story.


Kaufman Arts District is first of its kind in Queens

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

Astoria is ready for the world to know it’s the place to be for the arts.

The western Queens neighborhood gathered Friday to celebrate the announcement of the designation of the Kaufman Arts District, the first of its kind in the borough.

The district was created in partnership with Kaufman Astoria Studios, the Museum of the Moving Image, and the Queens Council on the Arts.

During the announcement, the partners of the arts district received a proclamation from Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer on behalf of the City Council.

The mission of the arts district will be “to advance and promote the area as a world class vibrant cultural destination and home for creative industries,” officials said.

“This corner of Queens has quickly become a vibrant community of cultural venues and arts organizations that have attracted some of our generation’s greatest artists,” Van Bramer said.

The Kaufman Arts District will span from 31st Street to the west, 34th Avenue to the north, Steinway Street to the east, and 37th Avenue to the south.

“Over the years, Kaufman Astoria and western Queens have blossomed side by side into a citywide landmark and a neighborhood that doubles as a world-class destination for the arts,” Senator Michael Gianaris said.

Within the boundaries of the Kaufman Arts District are the Museums of the Moving Image, The Astor Room, Studio Square NYC, the Queens Council on the Arts, the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, UA Kaufman Astoria Cinemas, the Astoria Performing Arts Center, and the Theater Development Fund’s Costume Collection.

“The creation of this arts district opens the community to more opportunities to experience the extensive creative activity in our midst,” said Carl Goodman, executive director of Museum of the Moving Image. “We’re going to really work together to bring this neighborhood to the next level.”

For more information on the arts district, visit here.



NYC Council passes NYPD oversight legislation

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

File photo

The New York City Council approved legislation that could make dramatic changes to the management of the NYPD.

Early this morning the Council passed the Community Safety Act, which contains two separate bills.

One will create an inspector general to oversee the activities of the police department and have subpoena power, while the other bill will make it easier for people to sue the NYPD over racial profiling.

“#Victory! Tonight, the @NYCCouncil passed the #CommunitySafetyAct by a veto-proof majority! This day is long overdue,” tweeted Brooklyn Councilmember Jumaane Williams, who drafted the legislation.

Supporters of the bill are celebrating the passage of the legislation, saying the NYPD abuses its stop-and-frisk policy, which allows officers to halt people and search them, and the surveillance of Muslims.

“This morning the Council took a major step towards reining in racial profiling in New York City,” NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous said. The Council acted to restore sanity and safety to the streets of New York City and the lives of hundreds and thousands of young people.”

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association and others against the bill said that it will hamper the work of the officers and increase crime.

“Last year, there were a record-low number of murders and a record-low number of shootings in our city, and this year, we’re on pace to break both of those records,” Bloomberg said in a statement released earlier today. “Unfortunately, these dangerous pieces of legislation will only hurt police officers’ ability to protect New Yorkers and sustain this tremendous record of accomplishment.”

Bloomberg promised to veto the bills, but the City Council is expected to have enough votes to overturn the veto, according to reports.



Op-Ed: Cities can lead the way to a stronger middle class

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


America’s middle class has faced decades of decline. A recent study by the Pew Research Center shows that only 51% of Americans are middle income today, down from 61% in 1971. Meanwhile, the net worth of middle class families has fallen 28 percent in the last 10 years.

In urban America, that middle class squeeze is exacerbated by a growing affordability crisis. Here in New York, the City Council just released a report that details some troubling trends. Unemployment rates for our middle class are the highest they’ve ever been at this stage in an economic recovery. Jobs paying middle class wages are increasingly scarce, and costs are rising much faster than incomes.

I believe there are concrete steps New York City can and must take to preserve and strengthen our middle class – steps that can lead the way for other cities facing similar challenges.

First we must address the costs that make cities like New York so expensive for middle class families.

That’s why I’ve proposed the single largest middle income housing construction program in two generations. Over the next 10 years my plan would create 40,000 new apartments for middle class families. We can do this by taking advantage of interest rates and federal mortgage rates that are at all-time lows, and by making better use of capital funds that already exist within the city’s budget.

Through state legislation called the Permanent Affordability Act, we can create a new tax incentive for building owners that agree to keep apartments affordable after their initial protections expire. And we’ll be able to use a similar structure to convert existing market rate housing to affordable units, especially in neighborhoods that don’t have room for new construction.

Now rent isn’t the only expense that’s putting a burden on working families. New York City has the highest child care costs in the country – over $19,000 per year on average.

That’s why we need a Middle Class Child Care Tax Credit.  This credit would be available to more than 90,000 additional families, anyone making up to $150,000 a year. It will build on existing state and federal credits – so a family with two children making $75,000 a year will receive a total annual benefit of $2,040.

The second part of this effort must focus on creating good jobs and making sure workers have the skills they need to enter the job market of the 21st century.

This will require an economic development strategy that works community by community, block by block. At the same time I’ve proposed a thoroughly reinvented workforce development system that’s driven by real world demand and rewards lasting results. Our people are the biggest strength we have when it comes to job creation, with many companies saying that workforce quality was their #1 consideration when deciding where to locate new offices. If New Yorkers have the right skills, the jobs will follow.

This is a moment of great difficulty for our middle class, but also great possibility. We will not allow middle class families to get priced out of the neighborhoods they helped build. We will keep New York City what it has always been – a place where opportunity is given, not just to those who can afford to buy it, but to those willing to work for it.

Elected Speaker in 2006, Christine Quinn has negotiated city budgets, reducing government spending, and preventing firehouse closings, teacher layoffs and cuts to key services.



One of the greatest mayors ever

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


I served with Mayor Ed Koch for 12 years, the last four from 1986 through 1989, while I was the newly-elected head of the City Council, soon to be empowered as a truly independent legislative branch of government with the coming elimination of the unconstitutional Board of Estimate.

He and I became very close friends because the city was in deep trouble fiscally, there was a notable absence of cops, the subways were unsafe, and the city needed a cheerleader to lift its sagging spirits, as well as a government that worked and gave hope for the future.

Ed Koch was the right person. We worked together to fashion the most significant landmark legislation in any four year period in the history of the city. The first Clean Air Act in the country, preventing people from being forced to inhale smoke from others, dividing restaurants and all public places accordingly; the first Campaign Finance Law ensuring a level playing field to anyone aspiring to run for office; the first so-called Gay Rights Bill preventing discrimination by reason of sexual orientation; the first and biggest housing plan providing for hundreds of thousands of affordable units to be built over the next four years, and a homeless policy to break up homeless shelters and provide homes wherever possible, just to name a few.

The best way to remember Ed Koch is in his own words. I was present with him on many occasions when he told a large audience mad at something or other he said or did, he would say: “Look, if I were a baseball player and got a hit only three times out of every 10 I batted, I would be a pretty good player, wouldn’t I? So if you agree with me three out of 10 times, I’m doing pretty good as mayor, too. But if I got a hit 7seven of 10 times, I would be the greatest player ever, right? Now most of you here agree with me 7 out of 10 times, so I must be the greatest mayor ever! On the other hand, if you agree with me 10 out of 10, you must be crazy!”

Many still think Ed Koch was single. That’s not true. He was married to this city, and loved it with a passion and devotion from beginning to end. I told him many times he could be one of the greatest stand-up comedians if he chose to, as well as being one of the greatest mayors ever.

Perhaps the best tribute you could say about any person is that when you mention his name, a smile comes to your face, and that is how I will always remember my dear friend, Ed Koch. My only hope is that he will enjoy and love Heaven as much as he loved this city.

Peter F. Vallone is former Speaker of the NYC Council



Queens’ Morning Roundup

| ctumola@queenscourier.com


Wednesday: Overcast with a chance of rain, then a chance of rain in the afternoon. Fog early. High of 79. Winds less than 5 mph. Chance of rain 30%. Wednesday night: Mostly cloudy with a chance of rain. Fog overnight. Low of 68. Winds less than 5 mph. Chance of rain 30%.

EVENT of the DAY: Hammer, Chisel, Drill: Noguchi’s Studio Practice

Hammer, Chisel, Drill: Noguchi’s Studio Practice opens today at The Noguchi Museum in Long Island City. The exhibit explores the working process of Japanese-American artist  Isamu Noguchi during his five studio periods from the 1940s until his death in 1988. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Queens teacher scolded for student-inmate cards

A teacher has received a warning letter from the New York City Conflicts of Interest Board for assigning her fifth graders to write Christmas cards to an inmate. Read more: NBC New York

School sends home bixsexual Queens student who wears ‘I enjoy vagina’ T-shirt

A Queens high school sent a student home Tuesday, saying her “I enjoy vagina” T-shirt was a distraction — but the bisexual teen says administrators are trouncing her free speech. Read more: New York Daily News

American Airlines: Improperly installed clamps to blame for loose seats

The American Airlines seat scare has expanded to a third flight. Some have suspected sabotage, but on Tuesday surfaced a new theory on what’s causing the loose seats. CBS New York

L.I. Police catch alligator in parking lot

A runaway alligator — now in the hands of animal officials on Long Island. Police were called to a Pathmark parking lot on Grand Avenue in Baldwin just before 8:00pm Tuesday night, where the 3-foot gator was spotted running loose. Read more: ABC New York

New York’s proposed council map is called unfair to minority groups

East Harlem would be split in two, and represented by two New York City Council members, including one from the Bronx. Two neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens with fast-growing Asian-American populations would be quartered, making it much more likely that the areas would continue to lack Asian-American elected voices.  Read more: New York Times

First debate sets up moment of high-risk theater

President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney come face to face for the first time in this presidential campaign Wednesday night for a nationally televised debate that will give millions of Americans a chance to size up two fierce competitors in a moment of high-risk theater. Read more: AP


Queens’ Morning Roundup

| ctumola@queenscourier.com


Monday: Overcast with a chance of rain. High of 79. Winds from the SE at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 30%. Monday night: Overcast with a chance of rain, then thunderstorms and rain showers after midnight. Low of 72. Winds from the ESE at 5 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 70% with rainfall amounts near 0.5 in. possible.

EVENT of the DAY: 30th Avenue Astoria Festival

Enjoy a plethora of booths selling food and goodies at the 30th Avenue Astoria Festival. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Peacock seen wandering Queens has been captured

The strut is up for one peacock that had been roaming Queens for weeks. The colorful bird was captured in Queens on Friday morning after it was spotted peacking the ground behind an apartment building. Read more: CBS New York

Hundreds grieve Queens high schooler Daniel Fernandez after party bus tragedy

The good times were rolling aboard the party bus to a Sweet 16 celebration — until tragedy struck for a Queens student who won’t see his 17th birthday. Read more: New York Daily News

Queens woman recovering from acid attack

A Queens woman whose eye and skin were horribly burned after her elderly dad doused her with sulfuric acid was up and talking yesterday as she battled back from the grisly attack. Read more: New York Post 

Seasonal parking bans please many Rockaways Residents but irk visitors

The houses in Neponsit and Belle Harbor, Queens, out past the last stop on the A train on the Rockaway Peninsula, are not what you picture when you think of New York City. Read more: New York Times

Citizenship help on offer thru City Council 

Immigrants will be able to get help applying for citizenship or deferred action — the new, temporary work and residency permits for young immigrants — at 30 City Council members’ offices starting next month. Read more: New York Daily News

On Labor Day, jobs debate a convention warm-up

Republicans and Democrats jockeyed for economic high ground in a Labor Day warm-up to the Democratic National Convention, with Republican Mitt Romney labeling the holiday “another day of worrying” for too many Americans anxious about finding a job. Read more: AP

Poll: Romney receives low score for convention speech

Mitt Romney’s speech at the Republican National Convention in Tampa last week received a lower score than any presidential candidate’s convention speech since the poll starting asking the question in 1996, according to the polling firm Gallup. Read more: CBS News

DSNY and Goldfeder update Community Board 10

| nkarimi@queenscourier.com

Bring on the snow.

During the last meeting of the year for Community Board 10, the New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) said they were ready for the winter weather and any blizzard it may bring.

According to DSNY Deputy Commissioner Vito Turso, last year’s snow storm on December 26 stopped the city for about 24 hours. There were 2,000 trucks on the streets, he said, but the DSNY was only able to communicate with 365 of them because two-way radios weren’t enabled on the rest.

“We let folks down,” Turso said. “With the help of other city agencies and the New York City Council, we developed a very comprehensive plan that we believe will prevent something like that to occur in the future.”

According to Turso, the plan includes putting GPS systems in city snow removal vehicles and phones to say where and how long they have been in that location. He also said there is now better communication with other city agencies, such as the Parks Department, the Department of Transportation, the police department and the MTA.

The snow plan also includes online services that locate whether people are on primary, secondary or tertiary streets. With six inches of snow or more, the DSNY will hire private contractors to plow the tertiary, small and narrow streets, Turso said.

Later on in the meeting, Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder addressed his ongoing project — a petition to end the Cross Bay Boulevard toll.

“It’s only $1.40, but if you rely on that to go to work every day or take your kids to school, that adds up. I was talking to a senior in Lindenwood and she said that she breaks her pills in half when she gets her prescription because she can only afford to get it every other month. A round of trip of $2.80 is a lot of money for people who are on a fixed income and budget,” Goldfeder said, urging residents to sign the petition.

“The more signatures, the better it looks,” he said. “[Governor Andrew Cuomo] will see the tremendous will of the community.”

Patrick Jenkins, a representative of Resorts World Casino, also spoke at the meeting, telling residents that the second and third floor of the Racino would open in a couple of weeks, as well as a new seafood and steakhouse restaurant.

“We had a great month so far, so we thank the people in this room and community. We’re excited,” he said.