Tag Archives: New York

Stop for school bus or lose license for 60 days: state Senate


| mchan@queenscourier.com

File photo

Repeat scofflaws who zoom through school bus stop signs could face stiffer penalties under a bill the state Senate passed last week.

The legislation calls for a 60-day license suspension for drivers who illegally pass a stopped school bus more than twice within 10 years.

“It’s bad enough that a driver passes a stopped school bus once, but to do it twice is unacceptable,” said upstate Sen. John Bonacic, who penned the law. “This bill is intended to make our roads safer for our school children.”

Committing the crime twice within three years is currently punishable by up to $750 and 180 days in jail. But only the monetary fine — up to $1,000 — increases for each new offense after that.

The new law, in line with citywide “Vision Zero” strides to reduce pedestrian fatalities, would temporarily yank dangerous drivers from the wheel.

“Drivers who are reckless with their lives and the lives of others, particularly with the lives of children, must be punished and taken off the roads,” Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky said.

The bill now awaits movement by the state Assembly’s Transportation Committee.

 

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Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino announces GOP run for governor


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Video via YouTube/Rob Astorino

Rob Astorino is asking voters whether New York is winning or losing.

The Westchester County Executive, in a video challenging Andrew Cuomo’s economic successes in leading the state, has announced he is running on the Republican ticket for governor.

“I’m tired of listening to the fairy tale that everything is just great when it’s just the opposite. I’m tired of watching New York’s decline,” he said, declaring his candidacy Wednesday.

If the state is winning, Astorino, 46, proclaimed, then re-elect Cuomo, but the evidence, he added, shows it is not.

New York has the highest taxes in the country, worst business climate, most corrupt government and second highest electric rates, Astorino claimed.

The video also attacked the governor for raising taxes and for his plan to fund college classes in prisons.

Astorino called Cuomo’s handling of Common Core a “disaster,” and promised to replace it with better standards, teaching and testing, all set and controlled at the local level. He additionally said New York needs more charter schools, not fewer.

He promised bipartisan, inclusive governing that he said helped get “Westchester back on the winning path again.”

Before he was elected to his first term as County Executive in 2009, Astorino served on the Westchester County Board of Legislators, and was a Mount Pleasant councilmember for 12 years.

Though he won re-election last year in a 2-1 Democratic county, he has an uphill battle if he faces Cuomo in the general election.

Cuomo, a popular incumbent, already has more than $33 million in campaign funds, according to the New York State Board of Elections.

A Feb. 13 Quinnipiac University poll showed Cuomo, with a 63 percent job approval rating, would beat Astorino 58 to 24 percent.

It also found he would easily defeat another potential challenger, Donald Trump.

The 2010 GOP candidate for governor, Carl Paladino, could reportedly run as a third party candidate.

 

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What Queens pols hope to accomplish for their constituents in 2014


| editorial@queenscourier.com

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As we enter 2014, The Queens Courier asked our elected officials: “What do you hope to accomplish for your constituents in 2014?”

Councilmember Costa Constantinides
There are many opportunities before us to ensure that our district continues to move forward. I will work for cleaner and safer streets, a healthier environment and a better education system. We look forward to working hard for everyone on these and many other priorities in the new year.

Councilmember Daniel Dromm
In the next year, I plan to work with the Department of Education to create methodologies and policies in our schools that are more conducive to learning. I also want to continue my work to improve pedestrian safety through a three-prong approach: engineering, education and enforcement.

Councilmember Julissa Ferreras
I look forward to improving the quality of life for all of my constituents, especially those who are residing along the Roosevelt Avenue corridor. In addition, I look forward to working with the Department of Education to secure more school seats and address the overcrowding issues in our district through the use of our Education Task Force. 2014 is going to be a great year!

Councilmember Peter Koo
With several projects taking off in northeast Queens, 2014 will bring exciting changes to Flushing and its surrounding area. I wish all constituents a prosperous 2014!

 

Councilmember Karen Koslowitz
I hope to continue to bring needed services to my community and to work with my constituents to make their lives easier by helping them to cut through the red tape of city government.

Councilmember Rory Lancman
I hope to make life more affordable for regular New Yorkers.

 

 

 

Councilmember Donovan Richards
I’m excited about the opportunity to work with our incoming borough president to keep Queens on the map. Melinda is someone who understands what this borough needs and how to move it forward.

Councilmember Paul Vallone
Our district office will immediately address constituent concerns and work with fellow councilmembers to reclaim outstanding capital funding and bring District 19 back to the top where it belongs.

 


Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer

In 2014, I look forward to working towards making Vision Zero a reality. The growing number of fatalities and injuries that continue to occur as a result of reckless driving and poor street design are unacceptable. No pedestrian, motorist, or cyclist should ever fear losing their lives on our city’s streets. In the new year and throughout my second term in office, I will continue to fight toward making our streets safer for all.

Councilmember Mark Weprin
I will work to keep co-ops and homes affordable and make sure my diverse district continues to be a great place to live and raise a family. I will also work with our new mayor to make our schools even better.

 

 

Councilmember Ruben Wills
I am hopeful that the strides we have made within our local schools will continue to see growth, in particular I am most excited about our feeder initiative expanding throughout the district. It is my sincerest hope that in 2014, District 28 continues to experience economic growth, improve on our education system, increase job opportunities, and share in a greater standard of living for all.

Assemblymember Ed Braunstein
I will continue to fight to reduce the plane noise that has had a detrimental effect on the quality of life of my constituents in northeast Queens. I will also continue to push for the passage of legislation that would provide tax fairness to middle-class co-op owners in New York City.

Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder
I will focus on individual Sandy recovery assistance, but will also ensure that large scale protection measures are in place so we are all more resilient for the future. It is unfortunate that it took a natural disaster to illustrate our deficiencies, but we must learn from our mistakes and use the opportunity to learn and grow.

Assemblymember Ron Kim
I am tremendously proud of the work we have done, but there is still more to accomplish. I will be introducing a bill to put some focus on character development in our education system, making sure that transportation plans include our borough, and looking into ways to bring in more affordable housing to downtown Flushing.

 

Assemblymember Mike Miller
My main legislative priority is using my newly appointed chairmanship to the Task Force on People with Disabilities to support legislation and directives that will directly benefit the quality of life and increase available services to the disabled. As a member of the Aging, Education, and Veterans’ Affairs committees, I will work to make sure our schools receive proper funding, our veterans are well taken care of, and our seniors receive the services and care they need.

Assemblymember Francisco Moya
I hope to pass the NYS DREAM Act this legislative session. And personally, I hope to see the greatest football team in the world, FC Barcelona, win La Liga.

Assemblymember Nily Rozic
For too many New Yorkers, the economic recovery still remains a figment. In 2014, I want to make sure government is doing its part to bolster economic security for working families, provide a sound education and improve everyone’s quality of life.

Assemblymember Aravella Simotas
The top priority in 2014 will be a renewed push for my Rape-is-Rape legislation aimed at protecting survivors by redefining the legal definition of the term ‘rape.’ Semantics really do matter, and this bill eliminates the unnecessary distinctions in terminology that de-legitimatize the trauma of rape.

 

Assemblymember David Weprin
As we enter into the new year, one of my main priorities is to ensure legislation will provide New Yorkers with much-needed aid in education, public safety, small business support, job creation, transportation, healthcare, rebuilding our infrastructure from Sandy, affordable housing, tax relief for New York’s working families and that other vital public services become law.

State Senator Tony Avella
Once again, my New Year’s resolution for 2014 will be to try and enact campaign finance reform in Albany and term limits for state legislatures.

 

 

 

State Senator Michael Gianaris
In 2014, I hope to see continued success for western Queens neighborhoods. As our communities continue to grow, I will fight for more good schools and hospital beds, better mass transit options and increased and improved green space. I wish everyone a happy and healthy new year!

State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky
I am looking forward to seeing my constituents at my new district office at 142-29 37th Avenue in downtown Flushing. It is exciting being closer to my colleagues in government, nonprofit groups and businesses, and I am optimistic that 2014 will be a productive and successful year for our community.

 

Congressmember Joseph Crowley
It is imperative that in 2014 Congress enacts comprehensive immigration reform to ensure we bring millions of undocumented immigrants out of the shadows, allow them to live and work here without fear of being separated from their families and offer them the opportunity to fulfill America’s promise. The time is now for meaningful reform, and I am hopeful that my Republican colleagues are equally as committed to seeing it through.

Congressmember Steve Israel
I will continue working to make sure airplane noise is kept under control, co-op and condo owners are treated fairly and are eligible for disaster grants from FEMA like other homeowners, and to improve quality-of-life issues that affect my constituents in Queens. I’m proud to represent part of Queens, and I resolve to keep working my hardest.

 

Congressmember Gregory Meeks
I would want everyone affected by the economic downturn and Superstorm Sandy to have a full recovery, that we pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill and a safe return for the troops in Afghanistan.

Congressmember Grace Meng
Continuing to work hard to maintain and improve the quality of life in Queens. So many issues to tackle: strengthening the economy, creating jobs, reducing the backlog for our veterans, protecting our seniors and children, supporting small businesses, continuing to help those impacted by Sandy, immigration reform, etc.

 

 

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Co-workers mourn Queens nurse who died in Metro-North derailment


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

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Kisook Ahn dedicated her life to helping others. It was one of the last things she did before she lost her own life.

The 35-year-old Woodside resident had just finished the night shift as a registered nurse the morning of December 1 when the Metro-North train she was riding in derailed in the Bronx, killing her and three others.

“She always had a big, bright smile on her face, even after working 12 hours,” said Linda Mosiello, administrator at the Sunshine Children’s Home and Rehab Center where Ahn was employed.

“She loved to make the kids smile no matter how sick they were,” Mosiello continued.

Ahn started working at the Ossining, N.Y. nursing facility in 2010, where she provided care for medically complex children, according to Mosiello.

She left the job briefly to finish classes at Lehman College where she was pursuing her masters in nursing as a nurse practitioner, said Mosiello, but had been working at Sunshine full-time since 2012.

Ahn came to the U.S. from Korea late in 2008 through a program for nurses, in conjunction with Perfect Choice Staffing.

According to Mosiello, Ahn has no relatives in the U.S.

Sheldon Meikle, Perfect Choice Staffing’s international director, said the Korean Consulate and the MTA are working together to help with funeral arrangements and to bring her family members to the U.S.

The staff is also helping the family come to the U.S. and is in the process of putting together a fund, said Mosiello. If anyone would like to contribute, they can contact Sunshine through its website, www.sunshinechildrenshome.org.

Ahn was remembered in a private service at Sunshine on Monday, December 2.

“I think it comforted the staff to come together and mourn [Ahn],” said Mosiello. “She was a very warm, loving woman. She was a great team player.”

In addition to the four killed, of the approximately 150 people aboard, 71 people were injured when the seven-car train, coming from Poughkeepsie and heading to Grand Central Terminal, jumped the tracks near the Spuyten Duyvil station around 7:20 a.m., according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and MTA.

At a press briefing on December 2, the NTSB said the locomotive was traveling at approximately 82 mph as it entered a 30 mph curve, according to preliminary information from the train’s event recorders.

 

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Queens resident killed in Metro-North train derailment


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

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Updated Monday, December 2, 4:36 p.m.

A Queens woman was one of four people who died Sunday morning when a Metro-North passenger train derailed in the Bronx.

A seven-car train, coming from Poughkeepsie and heading to Grand Central Terminal, jumped the tracks near the Spuyten Duyvil station around 7:20 a.m., according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and MTA.

Based on preliminary information from the train’s event recorders, at a press briefing Monday the NTSB, said the locomotive was traveling at approximately 82 mph as it entered a 30 mph curve.

Speed was a contributing factor in the crash, but the NTSB said it did not know at this time if the accident was due to human or equipment error

The NTSB also said it was not aware of any prior issues with the brakes.

Of the approximately 150 people aboard, 45 were treated on the scene or at the hospital and released, 26 remain hospitalized, and two women and two men were killed, said the MTA Police Department.

They have identified the deceased as Kisook Ahn, 35, of Queens; Donna L. Smith, 54, of Newburgh, N.Y.; James G. Lovell, 58, of Cold Spring, N.Y.; and James M. Ferrari, 59, of Montrose, N.Y.

A Woodside resident, Kisook arrived in the U.S. from Korea a year ago and was a nurse, according to the New York Daily News.

Kisook worked at Brooklyn’s Kings County Hospital from July 2011 to December 2012 as an agency nurse in its Pediatric unit, according to a spokesperson for the hospital.

“The Kings County Hospital Center family is very saddened by this tragic loss and we extend our condolences to the family,” said the spokesperson.

 

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Mayor Bloomberg signs law to raise cigarette purchase age to 21


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Nikki Djokovich

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has signed a law making New York the first major U.S. city to have a minimum cigarette purchase age of 21.

Bloomberg signed the law on Tuesday, raising the minimum age for buying cigarettes and other tobacco products, as well as e-cigarettes, from 18 to 21.

The law, which Bloomberg said “will prevent young people from experimenting with tobacco when they are most likely to become addicted,”will take effect in 180 days. The mayor has previously spearheaded measures such as banning smoking in bars and restaurants.

“Any person operating a place of business where cigarettes, tobacco products, or electronic cigarettes are sold or offered for sale will be prohibited from selling such products to anyone under the age of twenty-one and they will be required to post a sign in a conspicuous location stating the new law,” said Bloomberg.  “Sales of these products shall be made only to an individual who demonstrates, through a driver’s license or other photographic identification card issued by a government entity or educational institution, that the individual is at least twenty-one years of age.”

The City Council voted to raise the minimum age in October. It passed by a 35-10 vote.

“…Our city is sending a powerful signal to the tobacco industry and its allies that hooking our kids on nicotine will no longer be a viable business model,” said Councilmember James Gennaro, one of the law’s sponsors, after the October 31 vote.

Eighty percent of the city’s adults who become daily smokers start smoking before reaching the age of 21, according to the City Council.

The same day, the City Council also passed legislation which attempts to limit access to illegal tobacco products and strengthens enforcement against illegal cigarette dealers.

 

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Hooters to reopen in Fresh Meadows


| mchan@queenscourier.com

File photo

Fresh Meadows will soon get its second helping of Hooters, but one where the busty wait staff might be clad in a new getup.

The once popular neighborhood rack shack at 61-09 190th Street will reopen later this summer as a new franchise under Marc Phaneuf.

Officials said the establishment closed last October after Hooters of America axed a franchise agreement with Strix Restaurant Group, which ran the Fresh Meadows restaurant and three others on Long Island.

Phaneuf said the dispute, and not a lack of business, caused the restaurant to close.

“That actual location did a wonderful amount of business, a great amount,” he said. “They were very successful at that location.”

Strix then rebranded the eatery Bud’s Ale House. The staff included more men — and less revealing outfits — in the hopes of attracting more customers.

But the ale house went flat several months later, eventually closing in April.

Now Phaneuf is shelling out more than $1 million to redo the restaurant before its slated late August grand opening.

“We’re bringing it up to the latest and greatest version of Hooters,” he said, adding that the original Hooters in Fresh Meadows opened in 2009. “Every restaurant concept goes through changes. The decor, times change.”

That could mean a slightly new uniform for the eatery’s Hooters girls, though nothing has been decided yet.

The staff’s tight white tops are likely to remain untouched. But their bright orange skimpy bottoms could be swapped for skirts with hidden shorts under them, similar to those worn by cheerleaders, Phaneuf said.

“It’s all about evolution in the restaurant industry,” he said. “Hooters of America is looking at new uniforms. Fresh Meadows just might be, because of its location and proximity to New York City, where they may be rolling out the new uniforms.”

Phaneuf, who operates Hooters restaurants in Farmingdale, Albany and five locations in New England, said diners can also expect three times as many televisions, including some 90-inch sets.

“That location will be the premiere location to watch sports in the Fresh Meadows market,” he said.

The new franchisee also plans to hire about 100 staffers and put higher quality, healthier food items on the menu.

 

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Francis Lewis High School drill team wins nationals


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Patriot Pride

A Queens drill team left high and dry in September has taken back the national title.

Francis Lewis High School’s unarmed team earned an almost perfect score May 6 at the 31st annual National High School Drill Team Championships in Daytona Beach, Florida.

“It brings tears to my eyes thinking back to how hard they worked,” said their coach, retired Sgt. 1st Class Helen Batts. “Their dedication, loyalty and hard work—they poured their hearts into it.”

The annual competition drew more than 50 schools nationwide. Francis Lewis last sat at the top in 2009.

But with six outgoing senior spots to fill, the team took a blow in the fall when four seasoned drillers left and new members began to drop like flies.

“The team was actually suffering,” Batts said. “In September, I did not see a very productive future for them.”

Leaders put their hopes into a batch of bright-eyed rookies. Four freshmen had less than six months to learn and perfect multiple routines and memorize page after page of military facts.

“I looked at them and saw their strength,” Batts recalled. “I said, ‘You are the four.’ They said to me, ‘We’ll be ready next year.’ I said, ‘No, ma’am. You’re going to bring it this year.’ It just took off from there.”

The freshmen found themselves part of a historical victory. A Francis Lewis team had never before landed a national title with that many new members, Batts said.

Co-captain Jasmine Fung said she was fearful at first, but put her effort into training the freshmen.

“We pushed them the hardest, up until the point where they started crying,” she said. “But they really pulled it off. I’m so proud of them.”

Freshman competitor Christi Mahilum said the four fledglings were skyrocketed to a higher standard.
“We were about to give up somewhere in the middle,” said Mahilum, 15. “But it was worth it.”

News of the triumph came as a shock to the now reigning champs, who placed sixth—their lowest rank in years—at a competition in Kentucky last month.

“It was a wake-up call for us to get into shape,” said Fung, 17. “It was like, ‘Hey. It’s time to get your act together.’”
The team regularly clocked 26 hours of practice in a week, including six hours on Saturday. They forced themselves to come in one hour before school each day, Fung said.

Their hunger for a top trophy was satisfied. The Patriot Pride took home the gold by six points.

“I think that the freshmen didn’t pull it off alone,” said freshman Ashley Chan. “But it feels good to be recognized because we were the underdogs of the team.”

Mahilum, now an experienced driller, said she’s excited to finally take a breath—until next season.

“It feels really good to have helped the team get to where we are now,” she said.

 

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Cuomo to hold New Year’s open house at Executive Mansion


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo via Flickr/governorandrewcuomo

Want to spend New Year’s with the governor? Well, here’s your chance.

Governor Andrew Cuomo is opening the doors to the Executive Mansion in Albany on New Year’s Day and he’s invited the whole state to join him.

The open house will take place from 1-3 p.m.

All adults over 16 wishing to join the governor must have a ticket to get in and space is limited.

Click here to sign up for the open house

Registration will remain open until 6 p.m. tonight. If the number of requests exceeds the available space, guests will be selected by lottery.

No photos or videos will be allowed.

 

Smith’s move could stymie State Senate Democrats


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Malcolm Smith #8

State Senator Malcolm Smith, representing southeast Queens, announced he joined the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) in an allegiance with Republican representatives. This will possibly give the pact a tandem leadership of the chamber and stymie the Democrats, who seemingly took power in November’s election.

The tenured senator is now joining a coalition that will split power between two of the three sects in the Senate, with incumbent Senate Leader Dean Skelos switching every two weeks with Bronx IDC Senator Jeff Klein.

Klein’s spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment.

Smith wants to focus more on policy than politicking, said spokesperson Hank Sheinkopf.

In 2009, two freshman Democrat state senators joined Republicans to vote for a change that would have effectively removed Smith as senate leader.

The two senators later retracted and sided back with Dems.

“As someone who has been a victim of a coup,” Sheinkopf said, “and has seen chaos, this would be the best way to ensure that there would be no chaos. He wanted to make sure that it didn’t happen again.”

The senator, whose district will no longer include the storm-ravaged Rockaways, wants to focus on better transit, among other issues concerning the state, Sheinkopf said.

Though Smith is joining a coalition that will be allied with Republican senators, Sheinkopf said Smith remains a Democrat.

And while some Democrats are cautiously optimistic, others are appalled by what is known of the plan so far. Senator Joseph Addabbo, one of the Queens senators in office during the 2009 leadership crisis, said the Senate is at a crossroads right now. If power is split between all three sects of the higher house, GOP, IDC and Democrats, then a true allied government could be productive. However, should there be what Addabbo called a continued blockage by Skelos against Democratic bills, constituents will suffer as a result and the progress of government will get nowhere.

The New York State Senate Democratic Conference released statements following the news of Smith’s move, and claimed Republicans ultimately hurt constituents by holding up the legislative process.

“This is not a coalition but a coup against all New Yorkers who voted for Democratic control of the Senate and a progressive state government,” said Democratic spokesperson Mike Murphy. “Sadly, the real victims of today’s announcement are the people of our state, whose clearly expressed desire for progress on a host of issues will now be scuttled.”

Senator Jose Peralta, also a candidate for borough president, said he always had a great relationship with Smith and looked forward to continuing that despite the move, focusing on borough-wide issues and doing whatever possible to enact legislation at the state level.

“I’ve had the pleasure of working with Senator Malcolm Smith in the legislature in Albany and in communities in Queens,” Peralta said. “While I am deeply disappointed that he will not be a member of the Senate Democratic Conference, I will work to keep open a line of communication between Senator Smith and the conference and am hopeful he will fight to enact long-overdue sensible gun legislation, raise the minimum wage, improve our schools and ensure access to decent, affordable housing for all New Yorkers.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo, in an editorial for the Albany Times-Union, noted that he would not support either side at this time, or discuss the actions of particular legislators.

He did note, however, that the Democrat-led senate, which held power from 2009 to 2011, had failed to pass much legislation and cited leadership crises during that time. In addition, the governor listed what legislation he supported, including a minimum wage increase and reform to the much-discussed stop-and-frisk policy.

“The Democratic Conference was in power for two years and squandered the opportunity, failing to pass any meaningful reform legislation despite repeated promises,” he wrote. “The Democratic Conference dysfunction was legendary and the current leadership has failed to come to a cooperative agreement with Mr. Klein’s IDC faction.”

Murphy, in a statement responding to the op-ed, said the governor’s agenda was almost a match to members of the conference. Democratic senators, he said, would continue to fight for New Yorkers’ wants and needs and jeer the Republicans for any missteps in constituents’ needs.

“The governor has now presented a similar agenda including many issues the new Republican Coalition has opposed,” he said. “Senate Democrats will continue to lead the fight on this progressive agenda, and we will hold the Senate Republican Coalition accountable until New Yorkers get the progressive change they deserve.”

Obama asks for $60 billion in federal aid for Sandy relief


| mhayes@queenscourier.com


The Obama administration has requested $60.4 billion in federal resources for “response, recovery and mitigation related to Sandy damages in all affected states,” according to a letter from Jeffrey Zients, the deputy director for management, to House Speaker John Boehner.

However, that is less than the $80 billion initially sought for the destruction in the states of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction,” said Councilmember James Sanders, who has been working with his constituents throughout Far Rockaway. “And I encourage [the president] to take the next step.”

The next step, said Sanders, is to get the rest of the aid that the devastated areas need. New York is reported to need $42 billion, New Jersey $37 billion and Connecticut $3 billion.

The New York Times also reported that “the president’s plan would not cover several big-ticket items sought by state governments. It would not pay for damage already covered by private insurance, and would extend aid only to primary residences.”

But according to the Obama administration, the amount requested “includes efforts to repair storm damage to homes and public infrastructure and to help affected communities prepare for future storms.”

“Eighty billion is what would make us whole,” countered Sanders. “When we spoke of other national disasters, we met their needs, and that was correct. Let’s make sure that this area receives the same treatment.”

Mayor Michael Bloomberg also sees this federal aid as a start, but knows that more is necessary.

“While the total funding request released by the White House is not everything requested, we have always been realistic about the fiscal constraints facing the federal government. Now it’s up to Congress to come together and . . . work extremely hard to deliver the maximum possible aid.”

Bloomberg visits D.C. seeking federal aid


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Flickr/nycmayorsoffice Photo credit: Spencer T Tucker

Mayor Michael Bloomberg visited the nation’s capital yesterday meeting with lawmakers to request Sandy aid, while Governor Andrew Cuomo joined a neighboring governor in appealing for maximum federal support.

“Hurricane recovery is not a partisan issue – and in New York, we have a united front of Democrats and Republicans,” said Bloomberg, who was accompanied by Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. “Now, we have to bring together both sides in Washington – and both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

The mayor also met with other Washington leaders, including, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Chair of the House Appropriations Committee Congressmember Hal Rogers, Senators Sue Collins and Lamar Alexander and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan.

“I described the enormous job of recovery that is still ahead of us – a job that we’re undertaking in close proximity with Governor Cuomo, and members of both parties of New York State’s Congressional delegation,” Bloomberg said.

The city has already authorized $1.2 billion in emergency spending. Bloomberg said the New York City will need about $15 billion from the federal government for losses not covered by insurance.

“There’s every reason for Congress to provide us with the assistance we need, given New York City’s importance to the health of the entire nation,” Bloomberg said.

The mayor is also requesting 100 percent reimbursement from FEMA.

Cuomo released a joint statement with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie asserting they will work together to secure federal aid. The neighboring governors said their states are “inextricably linked” and therefore share a common goal in rebuilding.

“It is our shared commitment to the people of our states to work in partnership so that our needs are met and we receive as much federal support as possible,” the statement said.

NYC Rapid Repairs program begins today


| brennison@queenscourier.com


Superstorm Sandy destroyed the homes of thousands of New Yorkers and left multitudes more temporarily displaced. With the goal of assuring all residents have a roof over their heads as quickly as possible, Mayor Michael Bloomberg appointed Brad Gair, a former deputy commissioner for operations at the Office of Emergency Management, as director of housing recovery operations.

Gair worked at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) between 1999 and 2006, serving as the highest-ranking federal executive in aiding the city’s recovery post-9/11.

“His extensive, hands-on expertise, I think, makes him exactly the right person to tackle this job,” Bloomberg said.

Gair, who most recently served as president of a private emergency management firm, Good Harbor EM, will coordinate with city, state and federal agencies to relocate displaced New Yorkers into temporary and transitional housing. Bloomberg has estimated that approximately 10,000 residents will require housing as a result of the storm.

“Post-disaster housing is usually one of the most complex and challenging issues to be dealt with in any catastrophic disaster like this,” Gair said. “We know it will take a while, it will be difficult, there will be bumps along the road, but we believe we have the resources to get this done.”

In his more than a decade in the field, Gair said he’s learned lessons from recoveries done well and others done not so well.

The keys to finishing the job, he said, was using innovative methods, utilizing every resource available and being tenacious in getting New Yorkers back to their homes again.

One of the first steps Gair and Bloomberg took to returning residents to their homes was NYC Rapid Repairs.

The program, which is a partnership between FEMA and the city, allows for quicker and more efficient repairs, Bloomberg said. Whereas in the past homeowners were required to arrange for repair work, contractors will now be given responsibility for specific areas affected by the storm and will handle the repairs for any homeowner who enrolls in the program.

Homeowners can sign up for the program by going NYC.gov or by calling 3-1-1. Residents will need a FEMA ID number, which they can get by registering at DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 800-621-3362.

“The best temporary solution is always a permanent solution,” Gair said. “One way to limit the number of temporary housing needed is to get homeowners back in the places they already live.”

While the first concern is finding a place for every displaced New Yorker, the long-term plan is securing permanent housing for those expelled by the storm, Gair said.

“We cannot call our recovery complete until every New Yorker has a place to call home again,” said Gair.

Queens Morning Roundup


| brennison@queenscourier.com


Today’s Forecast

Thursday: Mostly cloudy, with a high near 48. Breezy, with a northwest wind 17 to 20 mph. Thursday night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 37. Northwest wind 11 to 16 mph.

Event of the Day: Bruce Lee Fights Back From the Grave

Devil Science Theater 3000 is an interactive event where the audience plays drinking games and makes fun of terrible movies while being egged on by professional comedians in the crowd. Find our more or view more events

Ex-St. John’s University dean Cecilia Chang rejected sweet plea deal before suicide

In the end, disgraced St. John’s University dean Cecilia Chang chose death over a life of dishonor — even at one point rejecting a sweet plea deal of two to six years in a so-called Club Fed prison, the Daily News has learned. Read more: Daily News

Gov. Cuomo fires Emergency Management chief over Sandy tree removal: sources

Office of Emergency Management boss Steven Kuhr was fired after allegedly sending workers to clear a tree in his Long Island driveway as other victims of the storm suffered, sources said yesterday. Read more: NY Post

Nor’easter brings snow, surges to storm-shocked city

A nor’easter brought heavy wind gusts and a snow Wednesday to a city trying to recover from last week’s superstorm, and coastal communities in the five boroughs were forced to endure another round of storm surges. Read more: NY1

Councilman James Sanders rips LIPA over Rockaway power outage

As tensions mount on a powerless Rockaway peninsula, the barbs being tossed at the Long Island Power Authority are becoming harsher with each passing day. City Councilman and soon-to-be state Sen. James Sanders Jr. blasted the utility on Wednesday and its top executive Michael Hervey after Sanders was told many of LIPA’s customers in Queens could be without power for up to three more weeks. Read more: Daily News

New York AG goes after post-Sandy price gougers

The state attorney general yesterday slapped a subpoena on Craigslist, demanding that the popular Web site identify sellers who jacked up prices on post-Sandy gas, generators and other supplies, The Post has learned. Read more: NY Post

Ex-con who shot Nassau County cop and motorist dead should be thrown in prison for the rest of his life: prosecutors

The Queens ex-con who gunned down a Nassau County cop and a motorist near Belmont Park to avoid returning to prison should spend the rest of his life behind bars, prosecutors said Wednesday as the alleged triggerman was indicated for murder, robbery and weapons possession. Read more: Daily News

Gillibrand wins full term in Senate


| brennison@queenscourier.com

File photo

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand won re-election in a landslide victory over Republican challenger Wendy Long earning the Democrat her first full term in the Senate.

With nearly 96 percent of precincts reporting, Gillibrand secured 72 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results.

“So while from the bottom of my heart I thank you for the honor and privilege of continuing to serve this state and to fight for New York families in the United States Senate, rather than focusing on politics tonight, I really want to focus on the New York I see while visiting the families recovering from Hurricane Sandy,” the junior Senator said during her victory speech.

The relatively unknown Long, a Manhattan lawyer, faced an uphill battle against the well-funded Gillibrand, polling well behind her in the Democratic stronghold.

Gillibrand outraised Long by more than 20 to 1 — $15 million to $700,000 — and is considered a rising star in the Democratic Party.

Long, who collected 27 percent of the vote according to unofficial results, bested Congressmember Bob Turner and Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos in the June 26 Republican Primary.

The race between the two Dartmouth graduates also marked the first time in New York that two woman faced off in a Senate election.

Gillibrand was first appointed to the Senate by the Governor David Patterson in 2009 to fill the vacant seat left when Hillary Clinton was chosen by Barack Obama as Secretary of State. She maintained the seat during the 2010 special election.

“I can’t thank you enough for your vote, for your confidence and for your willingness to allow me to serve this great state for a six-year term,” she sad.