Tag Archives: New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli

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.



Economic snapshot shows diversity of northwest Queens

| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Michael Pantelidis

The neighborhoods of northwest Queens are among the most ethnically diverse in the world, leading to strong economic growth for multiple years – until the recession, that is.

Based on an economic snapshot, released by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli on November 16, Corona, Elmhurst, East Elmhurst and Jackson Heights have the greatest concentrations of immigrants in New York City, which aided the area in producing several successful economic years directly preceding the current recession.

Elmhurst and Corona have the highest concentration of foreign-born residents, with 65.5 percent, and Jackson Heights and East Elmhurst have the second-highest, at 61.8 percent. In total, immigrants from 71 countries call the neighborhoods of northwest Queens home.

DiNapoli, as well as several local elected officials, credited immigrant entrepreneurship with being a driving force in the area’s economy.

“The streets of Corona, Elmhurst, East Elmhurst and Jackson Heights reflect the diverse heritage of New York’s immigrant populations,” said the comptroller. “An entrepreneurial spirit is vividly on display in the area’s retail corridors, such as those along Roosevelt Avenue and Northern Boulevard. These neighborhoods experienced strong economic growth in the early part of the decade, but have struggled more recently. Public and private investment would create new job opportunities and more affordable housing.”

According to the snapshot, during the years leading up to the current downturn, northwest Queens experienced job growth that outpaced the rest of the borough. The majority of jobs were concentrated in Elmhurst and Jackson Heights and were in the fields of health care and retail.

Although private sector employment in northwest Queens grew by 9.9 percent between 2004 and 2008 – which was significantly faster than the rest of the city – amidst the difficult economic climate of 2009, the area experienced a 2.9 percent decrease in private sector employment, significantly greater than the Queens average of 2.4 percent. Private employment rebounded slightly in 2010, with a 0.3 percent growth.

Highlighted in the snapshot was a population growth in the area of more than 40 percent between 1980 and 2010, considerably faster than the rest of the city, and an 18.1 percent increase in the number of businesses from 2000 to 2009, fueled by small businesses and representing growth three times as fast as the rest of the five boroughs.
Among the bright spots discussed in the report was the Willets Point Redevelopment plan, which could create more than 5,500 units of mixed-income housing, 1.7 million-square-feet of retail and entertainment space, convention center facilities, office space, a hotel, community facilities and new open space improvements.

The report also discussed significant quality of life issues faced by the neighborhoods’ residents.

In 2008, nearly half of the area’s households devoted more than 30 percent of their incomes to rent, considered burdensome, and roughly 25 percent devoted more than 50 percent of what they earned to rent, considered a severe burden.

Overcrowding in the area’s public school system, where 19 of 22 elementary schools operated above capacity last year, was also addressed. According to the snapshot, the number of elementary school students rose by more than 18 percent in the past six years.

“Because of the economic downturn, our immigrant communities continue to face many hardships,” said Councilmember Daniel Dromm. “That is especially true in our area, one of the most densely populated and diverse districts in New York City. Thanks to this very telling report we can determine the current health of our neighborhoods and identify and address the many challenges that still remain.”