Tag Archives: News

Eminent Domain dead, but Willets Point will still proceed


| lguerre@queenscourier.com


New York City rescinded its bid to acquire and develop Willets Point through Eminent Domain and may not be able to obtain it for a while, according to an opposing lawyer.
“They cannot condemn this property,” said Michael Rikon, the lawyer who represented Willets Point property owners against the city. “That would require starting from square one.”

Last week, lawyers for the city called Rikon to inform him of their withdrawal of the bid to acquire the neighborhood nearby Citi Field using Eminent Domain. Rikon was shocked but saw the move coming.

“My reaction was surprised, but I understood because there was no doubt in my mind that I was going to win,” Rikon said. “The city saw that as well.”

However, city representatives said they will continue to pursue a revitalization of the neighborhood.

“We’re very close to having a deal in place that will transform Willets Point into New York City’s next great neighborhood and continue the historic progress we’ve already made there,” said Julie Wood, a representative from the mayor’s office. “Last week’s action ensures that our plan will comply with the site’s myriad technical and legal requirements.”

Before Rikon learned of the city’s decision, he was getting ready to argue that the city didn’t treat the business owners fairly at the public hearings.

“They targeted 150 Hispanic businesses with over 650 employees and they didn’t hire a translator,” he said. “That was so disrespectful.”

Rikon added that the property owners were not properly informed of public hearings. He said they should have been told about them personally within 10 days.
He also denied that the city could have actually transformed the entire 60-acre land for public use because he said there would be too much work for the city to do on a $3 billion.

Rikon admitted that the city could still buyout tenants and property owners.

According to the NYC Economic Development Corporation, the plan to improve Willets Point included a full makeover “with retail and entertainment amenities, a hotel and convention center, mixed-income housing and public open spaces.”

Obama says same-sex marriage should be legal


| jlane@queenscourier.com


President Obama said Wednesday that he believes same-sex marriage should be legal.

“At a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married,” Obama told ABC’s Robin Roberts in an interview at the White House.

The president’s decision to address the issue directly came after Vice President Joe Biden said he was “absolutely comfortable” with same-sex marriage during an interview with NBC’s “Meet The Press” Sunday.

[New York Post]

Help make history: Vote for Queens sites to get grant money


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

The Courier/Photos

Five lucky historic Queens venues are in the running to win part of a $3 million grant to support their services and assist in their revitalization.

Through a partnership with American Express, the National Trust for Historic Preservation brought the Partners in Preservation initiative to New York City, which is a plan aimed at providing financial support to protect landmarks and significant sites across the nation.

The Queens sites that made the cut are the Louis Armstrong House Museum, the Queens County Farm Museum, Flushing Town Hall’s building, Astoria Park’s Pool and the Rocket Thrower sculpture in Flushing Meadows- Corona Park.

“We think it’s a terrific opportunity for us and we’re having fun with it,” said Betsy Enright, director of external affairs for the Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts, which manages events in Flushing Town Hall. “It’s all really for the people of our community, because we’re trying to make our building beautiful.”

Partners in Preservation has traveled around cities throughout the nation each year since 2006 and has donated $6.5 million to preserve American treasures.
With its first stop in the concrete jungle, the program selected 40 buildings or structures around the five boroughs.
Each of the sites submitted a proposal, including an estimated amount of money they require for their projects, and now depend on votes from residents to determine which sites will be funded.

Residents can vote online once per day until May 21, at partnersinpreservation.com. The four winners that receive the most votes will be awarded their grant requests and a special committee will decide how to divide the remaining money among the other sites, based on need and votes.
Flushing Town Hall asked for $260,000 to restore the large Romanesque windows surrounding the building, while the Louis Armstrong House Museum requested $250,000 to preserve the garden.

For some sites like the Queens County Farm Museum, which requires $255,000 to restore the farmhouse, the contest could give the organization more than just money.
“It would mean a great deal,” said Sarah Meyer, director of sales and marketing at the farm.

According to Meyer the farm was established in 1975 and isn’t as well-known or historic as other sites in the contest and doesn’t have as many financial supporters.
“It’s a grant that’s getting a lot of publicity,” Meyer said, adding, “hopefully, a lot more people will become more aware of the Queens County Farm Museum and visit here and support us.”

 

Click here to cast your vote

Horse gone wild


| editorial@queenscourier.com


A jittery horse escaped his stable and ran into rush-hour traffic in Queens yesterday morning, striking a car, authorities said.

Blackjack fled from Cedar Lane Stables in Howard Beach at around 8:20 a.m.

He struck a Honda sedan that had been waiting for the light, smashing its windshield.

[New York Post]

Peter Rodriguez sentenced in death of George Gibbons


| brennison@queenscourier.com

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The trial of the man that killed George Gibbons may have concluded, but friends and family are ensuring that Gibbons’ legacy will live on.

More than 100 supporters, all donning green in solidarity, gathered on the steps of Queens Criminal Court on Monday, May 7 following the sentencing of Peter Rodriguez, who last month pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of a crime and negligent homicide in Gibbons’ death.

“There is not substantial amount of time Peter Rodriguez can serve that will make it any easier for our family to deal with the loss of our dear George,” said his sister Bernadette of Rodriguez’s sentence of three-and-a-half to seven years in prison, the maximum allowed under the law. The family, along with Councilmember Elizabeth

Crowley, hope Gibbons’ death will be the impetus to lengthen penalties in similar crimes.
“The law needs to be strengthened to penalize those who break it, but right now our system fails to adequately hold criminally negligent-drivers accountable for their actions,” Crowley said. “I will continue to work with the Gibbons family and the Maspeth community to call on the State Assembly to pass and Governor [Andrew] Cuomo to sign this important bill.”

The bill, which has passed the Senate, would elevate leaving the scene of a crime in which a death occurred from a class D felony to a class C felony, which is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

“We hope that in carrying on George’s tradition of helping others and being an active community member –along with Councilmember Crowley and her office — that in the future if an accident like this were to occur again that we would be able to change the law and make George’s legacy continue on in the future,” Bernadette said. “Maybe with a harsher sentence families will have a little bit more of a content feeling after leaving the courtroom in a situation such as this.”

Gibbons, owner of Gibbons’ Home in Maspeth, was killed on the morning of October 15, 2011 when the cab he was traveling home in was struck by Rodriguez’s vehicle — traveling the wrong way on the Long Island Expressway’s service road.

“I’m not happy about it,” George Gibbons Sr. said of the abbreviated sentence, “but that’s the law and until we can get it changed we’ll have to do with it and come back when [Rodriguez] is up for parole.”

Second Courier ‘Power Breakfast’ informs seniors


| mchan@queenscourier.com

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Seniors looking for another leg up in the extensive world of elder law got a second boost of knowledge during a recent Courier-hosted lecture.

During a “Power Breakfast” — the second one hosted by The Courier this year — held on May 4 at North Shore Towers in Floral Park, Ann-Margaret Carrozza, an elder law attorney, equipped seniors with crucial advice on updating their wills, while other leaders in the field armed them with tips on avoiding scams.

“When you hear horror stories that someone’s mother’s brother-in-law lost their assets because of a long-term care illness, it’s because they didn’t have a little mental game plan,” Carrozza said. “Sometimes that’s all that’s necessary.”

According to Carrozza, seniors should consider redoing their wills in the event that an unforeseeable crisis occurs in the family — specifically stating that all assets will be left in a lifetime trust. Doing so, she said, makes sure spouses will be able to benefit from assets without “somebody putting a claim on it for long-term care expenses.”

Jim Morin, a representative from Flushing Bank, also warned seniors to be cautious of an ongoing scam that targets the elderly. Scammers, Morin said, will often send letters in the mail or make phone calls telling unsuspecting victims they won a prize.

“If you get something in the mail like that, it’s dangerous,” he said, adding that recipients should not give the organization any money or personal information.

Guest speaker, Councilmember Leroy Comrie, also addressed the city budget’s recent cuts to senior centers and programs and urged residents to speak up and join the fight against them. Comrie said seniors in northeast Queens could contact Councilmember Mark Weprin at 718-468-0137 to voice their concerns, and those in southern Queens could call his own district office at 718-776-3700.

Before the lecture began, seniors had a chance to mingle with leading businesses in the industry, including vendors Sinai Chapels, Royal Health Care Services, FCE Group, RBC Wealth Management, The Bristal Assisted Living, Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care and Rehabilitation, Oyster Bay Manor and Harbor House Assisted Living, Flushing Bank, Sunrise Senior Living, Dignity Home Care, Riis Financial and Caring People Home Health Care Agency.

$1 Trillion in Student Debt


| brennison@queenscourier.com

The Courier/Photo by Billy Rennison

Here is what you can buy with $1 trillion: 5 million Lamborghinis, 15,000 private jets, 140 private islands and every team in baseball 16 times. Simply put, it is a lot of money.

The number — which is much more jarring when written out, 1,000,000,000,000 — is also the amount of debt students in this country collectively hold from their college loans. It is a backbreaking number, and an amount many feel is devastating their future.
A degree has become a prerequisite for employment, and rising tuitions means, for many, that debt is a precondition for entry into the workforce, so students have decided to fight back.

A rally was held on April 25 in Union Square to coincide with 1T Day — the day student loan debt hit $1 trillion — to raise awareness about the crisis and to begin a movement toward free college education.

Hundreds of protesters wore placards around their neck declaring the size of their debt, from relatively small amounts, like Jessica K.’s $13,000, to immense amounts, like Francis Rogers’ $108,000.

“Trillion dollar day is a reminder that private banks are still very much in the predatory lending business; this time it’s students not homeowners,” said Professor Andrew Ross, an organizer with the Occupy Student Debt 1TDay campaign.
The histrionics of the event — there were super heroes and choruses and even “Sallie May” showed up — did not overshadow the frustration of the hundreds of thousands of students drowning in debt.

“I’m the first person in my family to go to college,” said Annie Spencer, a CUNY graduate student. “I’m now $80,000 in debt and don’t see a day when I won’t struggle to make ends meet. Those of us who took on this trillion dollar debt were sold the promise of a better life in exchange for carrying the burden, but the deck was stacked against us from the start.”

More than two-thirds of graduates leave college with student loan debt, according to a 2008 study. The average debt for these 1.4 million students is more than $27,000.
The students at the Union Square protest — and many other groups that have taken up similar fights — do not believe all college should be free or that, as a rule, loans should not be repaid. Their tenets are that public college should be free — as it had been in New York until the 1970s — and that student loans should be repaid interest free.
“The goal of these protests isn’t to renege on our responsibilities, it is to make the institutions making billions of dollars on the backs of students take some responsibility,” said Stephanie, a New York University graduate with $90,000 in debt. “They want us to default.”

More than 40 percent of students from the class of 2005 have faced default and/or delinquency, according to the Occupy Student Debt Campaign.
The demonstrations eventually made their way toward Wall Street, though not before parking itself in front of a bastion for tuition-free — for now — education, Cooper Union, where one dissenter, who identified himself as Jesse, stood atop the Peter Cooper Memorial.

For students that dream of a tuition-free college education, Copper Union is their Shangri-la — well, it was. From 1902 until today the college charged no tuition, instead relying on a generous endowment providing each student a scholarship — furthering the school’s founder Peter Cooper’s belief that education should be free, and for more than a century his ideal held true at the school bearing his name.

But, in April, the school announced that it would begin charging tuition for select graduate programs. This flew in the face of what many students felt the school stood for.
So, Jesse stood atop the school’s founder’s memorial with a sign reading, “No tuition, it’s our mission,” leading to a two hour standoff with police before he was taken down in a cherry picker and arrested.

Cooper Union’s shift toward tuition mirrors the nation-wide trend of exploding college costs. In the past five years tuition at public universities has increased 24 percent, and 17 percent at private colleges.

This has led — obviously — to a steep incline in the amount of debt students leave college with. Thirty years ago the number was $2,000, a full $25,000 below today’s amount. Inflation makes up only a small amount of the difference; $2,000 in today’s value is just under $5,000.
“I’m pretty much carrying a mortgage, I guess the American dream of owning your own home is out the window for me,” said Valerie Young, a 23-year-old with more than $100,000 in loans. “I can’t live in my degree.”

Indebted student’s plight has reached Capitol Hill where politicians are debating bills that would prevent student’s interest rates from doubling in July, an issue President Barack Obama has been speaking out against.

“When kids do graduate, the most daunting challenge can be the cost of college. At a time when Americans owe more in tuition debt than credit card debt, this Congress needs to stop the interest rates on student loans from doubling in July,” Obama said in his State of the Union address. “Of course, it’s not enough for us to increase student aid. We can’t just keep subsidizing skyrocketing tuition; we’ll run out of money. States also need to do their part, by making higher education a higher priority in their budgets. And colleges and universities have to do their part by working to keep costs down.”

Burning Mad

“My future is going up in flames with each loan bill I’m getting and can’t repay because I don’t have a job, and the interest just keeps pushing the bill higher,” said Frederick Iman after he lit his student loan bill on fire. “So I might as well burn my bill, too.”
Iman was not the only protestor to turn their bills to ashes, others joined in sending smoke signals that they are here to end predatory loan practices.
Though the economy shows signs of recovery, college graduates unemployment rate is still well above the average and a recent Rutgers University study found that only half of graduates between 2006 and 2010 graduates have found full-time jobs.
“[Lenders] are making money off every graduate and even more money when we can’t find jobs,” said Mark, an unemployed graduate of Miami (Ohio) University who lit his loan bill. “Someone has to stand up for us, it might as well be us.”
It is not only the Occupy Student Debt Campaign and its supporters that are attempting to reform lending practices for students.
Student Loan Justice (www.studentloanjustice.org) is another organization that is dedicated to returning standard consumer protections to student loans. The group has created a Student Borrower Bill of Rights that aims to bring these standard protections back. Currently, student loans are not forgiven in bankruptcy proceedings — the only type of loan that applies to.

The EDU Debtors Union (www.edudebtorsunion.org) believes that students in debt are akin to factory workers.
“Factory workers go to work every day and transform capital into profit by making products,” EDU says. “Students transform capital into profit when interest and penalties are added to a principle loan.”

This method becomes unacceptable, they say, “when there are abuses to the many for the benefit of the few without a method of recourse.”
So EDU has started a union. They believe debtors can benefit from union representation. Large numbers, they believe, represents a better chance for students to negotiate better repayment methods with lenders.

This is a tactic that the Occupy Student Debt Campaign also believes holds power.
The campaign is circulating a petition that students pledge to stop making loan payments in hopes of restoring free public college education if 1 million students sign the pledge.

No End in Sight

Marches, protests and refusals to pay aid in shining a light on student’s plight, but the bills will continue to come. Without government intervention, change will be difficult. There are bills in Congress that aim to help students, but according to govtrack.us, they have little hope of passing.

“Because there are so many student loan lenders and types of loans, a general debt strike will not necessarily hit the heart of the beast,” EDU wrote in a blog entry. “To organize a debt strike effectively, you have to start with specific lenders otherwise the impact of the strike will not be felt.”

Only a few thousand have signed the Occupy campaign’s petition, well short of the million they need before the debt strike, and some are concerned about ruined credit.
I don’t want to pay back these loans — and honestly I can’t — but I’m worried that not paying anything will just ruin my credit for life,” said Michelle Condon. “[Lenders] practices must change and I will continue to fight, but unless we all band together and refuse to pay, what difference will be made?”

These campaigns are lighting the fire, but if the flame is suffocated with default notices and compounding interest, what is the next step?

“We just need to get the word out,” said Ryan Lindner, a graduate of Cortland University. “My credit is already crap, they can’t make it worse. I refuse to recognize them until they recognize my basic rights. I will not pay.”

This Morning’s Headlines


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Mob rap for wiseguy in name only

A longtime restaurateur has filed an $8 million lawsuit against the city and the Queens District Attorney’s Office, claiming he was wrongly accused of being involved in a mob-run gambling ring because he has a common Italian name. “The other guys told the detectives that I was the wrong Cono, and they didn’t listen,” said Cono Natale Jr., owner of the since-shuttered Cono & Sons O’Pescatore Restaurant in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, who filed the suit in Queens Supreme Court. Read More: New York Post

 

Woman slams driver by hanging ‘Tony Q69’ fliers along his Queens bus route

A scorned straphanger who claims a married Queens bus driver hit on her has spent months letting the whole neighborhood know just how she feels about him, plastering his Q69 Astoria route with fliers addressed to the “womanizer bastard.” The mystery lady doesn’t identify herself in the typewritten, boldfaced missives, but has plenty of ammo for “Mr. One Night Stand,” whom she also calls “Tony Q69.” “No one wants you Tony!!!!!” she writes. “You are so full of yourself.” Read More: New York Post

 

Two Vintage Queens Carousels Get New Operators In Time For Summer

Two vintage carousels in Queens have stayed idle for years, the Forest Park carousel and the Flushing Meadows Corona Park carousel, now have new operators for the summer season, thanks to the Parks Department. Read More: NY1

 

Dog Owners Hit The Park To Raise Money For Strays

New Yorkers laced up their sneakers Saturday to raise money for homeless animals at the fourth annual Walk for Paws in Alley Pond Park in Queens. The nonprofit recently acquired a shelter in Freeport, Long Island, so the group can help even more animals, but volunteers say it needs a lot of work. Read More: NY1

 

Queens crime inching up as grand larcenies spike boroughwide

Queens has seen a significant jump in grand larcenies in the first four months of 2012, police statistics show. The high-end thefts were up 12% boroughwide as perpetrators continue to steal gadgets including iPhones and iPads at an alarming rate, according to NYPD statistics through April 22. Meanwhile, total reported complaints of major crimes have seen a 3% uptick boroughwide compared to 2011, numbers show. Read More: Daily News

Brooklyn boy, 12, crushed to death while playing on parking lot gate

A 12-year-old Brooklyn boy playing “chicken” on a parking lot gate was crushed to death Sunday when the gate rose and his arm became stuck, police and witnesses said. Yakim McDaniels, horsing around with five other children, climbed onto the 20-foot iron electronic gate at Lott Ave. near Watkins St. in Brownsville, family and witnesses said. “It’s a game. Kids are always on that gate,” said neighbor Anthony Figueroa. “They play chicken to see who can hang on the longest.” Read More: Daily News

LIC to get BID


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

The Courier/Photos

Industrial business in LIC may soon be “improving.”

The city is progressing with its plan to launch Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), which are formal organizations made up of property owners who are dedicated to promoting business development and improving the quality of life in their area, in four industrial neighborhoods across the five boroughs – the west shore of Staten Island, Newtown Creek in Brooklyn, Eastchester in the Bronx and between Skillman Avenue and Borden Avenue and west of Van Dam Street in LIC.

The industrial BIDs will allow companies and properties to band together on unique issues they face, including security and sanitation problems. The creation of the districts will also provide a sustainable source of funding to support ongoing maintenance and capital improvements in the areas.

“The Bloomberg administration is once again demonstrating its commitment to supporting and expanding the city’s industrial sector,” said Economic Development Corporation (EDC) President Seth Pinsky. “The creation of up to four industrial BIDs will allow industrial businesses across the city to work collectively to overcome the unique challenges they face, ultimately providing a major boost to a critical sector of our city’s economy.”

Commercial BIDs, which provide supplement services to the community through a special assessment payment from companies’ properties, have proven to be successful in transforming neighborhoods across the city – including Times Square and Bryant Park.

“I am pleased the EDC has chosen LIC for the creation of one of the first Industrial BIDs,” said

Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. “This initiative will create a sustainable source of funding that will provide flexibility within our industrial business zone in order to adapt to the changing economic environment in western Queens. Supporting industrial businesses ensures we will have a firm foundation of good paying jobs in Queens for many years to come.”

The EDC announced on April 10 that it has chosen the four local organizations that will lead the planning of the industrial BID formation in their respective neighborhoods over the next year. The LIC Partnership, which has already created a commercial BID in Queens Plaza and Jackson Avenue in LIC, was chosen as the consultant for its western Queens community based on its response to a Request For Proposals issued in December of 2011.

“LIC is home to the largest concentration of industrial businesses in New York City,” said Gayle Baron, president of the LIC Partnership. “The creation of an industrial BID in our neighborhood will further strengthen this very important business sector. Building upon our ongoing services to industrial businesses, we look forward to increasing this assistance by providing sustainable, innovative and customized services leading to an improved bottom line, business growth and new job creation for LIC’s industrial firms.”

All of the selected organizations have proposed a variety of innovative services that could be provided to businesses within the industrial BID, such as cost sharing for infrastructure improvements and waste removal services, group purchasing of health care and coordinated shipping of imports and exports.
Dan Miner, the senior vice president of business services for the LIC Partnership, believes creating the BID in LIC would provide industrial businesses with services they are currently without – increasing efficiency, market share or profits in the process.

The subsequent steps in the formation of the BIDs include outreach and authorization, which requires the approval of at least 50 percent of the property owners.

The city’s Industrial Development Agency (IDA) recently approved a purchase contract of up to $300,000 to assist the organizations as they work to create the districts.

LIC Partnership Night Out


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

The Courier/Photo by Michael Pantelidis

LIC Partnership hosted its Neighborhood Night Out event on April 17 at Alewife, located at 5-14 51st Avenue. The annual affair provided LIC businesses with an opportunity to network and mingle – as well as share a beer and a laugh, as attendees followed up cocktails at the local watering hole with a show at the Laughing Devil Comedy Club.

CK students’ math adds up to wins


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Christ the King

The Christ the King Regional High School (CK) Math Team celebrated its individual and team victories in this year’s NY State Mathematics League competition. Four of the CK students tied for 1st Place out of more than 4,000 students competing. Overall, the team came in 3rd out of over 200 high schools in the state and ranked 1st out of all the religious schools.

“I am so proud of the individual and team accomplishments and look forward to many future successes,” said Principal Peter Mannarino shared.

Police searching for missing man


| jlane@queenscourier.com

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The police are searching for a 17-year-old Hispanic male who went missing in the confines of the 104th Precinct.

Pasquale “Lino” Canfora was last seen on Monday, March 19 at a location on 56th Drive. Canfora is described as a 6’ tall and 165 pounds with black hair, dark eyes, a thin build and a medium skin complexion.

Anyone with information in regards to his whereabouts is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS.

Kids chat with deep-sea expert


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Joan Bachert

Richmond Hill kids dove into the fascinating world of marine biology when they videoconferenced with an expert from the SeaTrek Mote Marine Laboratory, located in Sarasota, Florida.

Kasey Gaylord, a SeaTrek coordinator and educator, hosted the April 24 conference and showed the children what dinner time is like in the shark tank at the aquarium.

The future deep-sea explorers learned about different species of sharks such as the sandbar shark, nurse shark and black nose shark, as well as other sea animals such as barracudas and sting rays.

Kids got the chance to see how sharks feast and how the experts train them to behave during feeding time. The children’s interests were peaked, and they “fished” for more information during the conference’s question-and-answer session.

Delicious way to raise money


| editorial@queenscourier.com

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Eat chocolate, raise money?

That’s exactly what happened this past weekend when the Rotary Club of South West Queens hosted a chocolate fundraiser for the community-based Our Lady of Grace Ministry of Care and Service Food Pantry.

For the price of admission, attendees were able to indulge in treats such as M&M pancakes, chocolate pancakes, chocolate chip muffins, and chocolate cookies and brownies.

There was also a chocolate fountain with fresh fruit, pretzels and even marshmallows. Home-baked chocolate truffles were also available. To wash it all down – chocolate milk, of course. Chocolate-themed movies were also played on a big screen for the children to enjoy.

“This was a great idea! Job well done,” said Senator Joseph Addabbo, who brought his wife and two girls to the gooey fun.

To learn more about the South West Queens Rotary Club, visit www.southwestqueensrotary.org, or on Facebook: www.facebook.com/SWQRotary.

Flushing introduces new principal


| mchan@queenscourier.com

The Courier/Photo by Melissa Chan

The epilogue has been written for Flushing High School — but as the city concludes the final chapter of the storied 137-year-old institution, a new protagonist has entered the plot.

The Department of Education Division of Portfolio Planning hosted a meeting at Flushing High School — one day before the Panel for Educational Policy’s highly-anticipated vote — to introduce the school’s new leader, Magdalen Radovich, who will take over the reins at the embattled institution.

Radovich is currently an assistant principal at Queens Vocational and Technical High School in Long Island City, where she has served for 16 years — with half of the time spent as a teacher and the other half as an administrator.

“This has to be one of the most awkward meetings,” Radovich said to a small group of parents and students. “I don’t have all the answers. I know as little as some of you do about what’s going to happen tomorrow or the next day. I can promise you only that I will bring you the energy, commitment, dedication and the real belief that success is the only option for every kid, no matter what.”

Queens Vocational was on the city’s list of Persistently Lowest Achieving (PLA) schools up until recently, Radovich said. In terms of data, she said Flushing is similar to where Queens Vocational was six years ago, when the passing rate in the ninth grade was only about 50 percent — 38 percent less than its current standing.

“While we were on the PLA list, we felt kind of demoralized and stigmatized. But we knew that we had really good people who were working really hard to move us forward despite that. What really kept us moving were the kids,” Radovich said.
While similar in certain aspects, Radovich said Queens Vocational and Flushing largely differ in size, with Flushing being home to almost double the amount of students as Queens Vocational.

“You need to see things with different eyes. If something doesn’t work, it doesn’t mean that people aren’t working hard. It means that a different approach needs to be implemented,” she said.

Radovich — a mother of four, including one who is a junior in high school — began teaching in 1996 after dabbling in social justice work. She was a college professor for about 10 years, teaching remedial courses at New York University, Cooper Union, Pace University and John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

She said she hopes to carry on some of Flushing’s successful programs in the new school.

“I don’t have anything in particular in mind at this moment because it seems to me you have an awful lot here already that needs to be looked at carefully by the community and either built up or revised, but it’s definitely something that’s a priority for me,” Radovich said.

Flushing received a “D” on its most recent progress report, with an “F” in student performance, said DOE spokesperson Frank Thomas. The school was first designated as PLA in 2009 due to its consistently low graduation rates. While the numbers rose to 60 percent in 2010, the statistics still landed Flushing in the bottom 27 percent of schools in the city.

The new school — which has yet to be named — will serve between 3,035 to 3,075 students from grades nine through twelve, according to the DOE.