Tag Archives: News

This Morning’s Headlines


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Laughing at Fidel: NY fest stars ‘defect’ — as in their film

They sure took their roles to heart. Two Cuban actors who were supposed to be on their way to the TriBeCa Film Festival in New York — for a screening of their flick about teens defecting from Cuba to the United States — mysteriously disappeared in Miami last week and may now seek asylum themselves. “To be sincere, I think they’re going to stay’’ in the United States, admitted the pair’s “Una Noche’’ co-star Dariel Arrechada, 20, to the Huffington Post. Read More: New York Post

Sick sex ‘drive’ — Trapped prostitutes shuttled to tricks by 6 cabbies: DA

A father and son from Queens ran a lucrative — and cruel — brothel on wheels for two decades, using six livery drivers to deliver hookers to hotels and apartments, Manhattan prosecutors said in announcing the ring’s breakup yesterday. In a sick twist, the dad, Vincent George Sr., 55, not only taught Vincent Jr., 33, how to pimp, but may at one point have either employed his own daughter as a hooker or pawned her off on yet another pimp, prosecutors said, declining to elaborate. Read More: New York Post

Poll Finds Quinn Is Clear Leader In 2013 Mayoral Democratic Field

Christine Quinn, it seems, is breaking away from the pack. According to the newest NY1/Marist College poll, if the Democratic primary were held today, the City Council speaker would win 32 percent of the vote. That is 10 points better than she did in the last NY1/Marist poll in September and 20 points ahead of her nearest rival, former City Comptroller Bill Thompson. Read More: NY1

 

MTA Alter 21 City Bus Routes To Match Riders’ Demands

On Monday the MTA announced that as part of its ongoing review of ridership it was reducing service on 15 routes, while six routes will get increased service. Changes range from half a minute to 10 minutes. The authority says these changes are cost-neutral. Read More: NY1

 

Man in critical condition after being slammed by hit-run driver in Woodhaven

A 50-YEAR-OLD man was in critical condition Monday night after a hit-and-run driver plowed into him as he crossed a busy Queens intersection, police said. The victim was unconscious when emergency crews found him in the roadway at Jamaica Ave. and Woodhaven Blvd. just before 7 p.m., fire officials said. “He was walking in the middle of the street,” said Tiffany Robinson, 22, who said the man did not have the right of way as he crossed the boulevard. “He went 15 feet in the air, flipped — his sneakers went in different directions.” Read More: Daily News

 

Making room for another civic group in Queens

Queens has so many neighborhoods and civic groups that they often double up on each other. So does the borough really need one more? Paul Gagliardotto, a 26-year-old sanitation worker from Glendale, thinks so. Gagliardotto recently formed the Forest Park Civic Association of Queens in an effort to unite the various neighborhoods surrounding the 543-acre green oasis. “We all have this wonderful park in common, yet district lines use this area in central west Queens as a dividing point,” he said. “What we will strive to do is create one voice for these areas.” Read More: Daily News

Top Headlines From Around the Web


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Search for Etan Patz ends with no remains or blood found in SoHo basement

The massive basement dig in search of missing SoHo boy Etan Patz ended with no human remains or blood found below a neighborhood building targeted by investigators, law enforcement sources said today. FBI agents, assisted by NYPD cops, had been blasting through cement below 127B Prince St. since Thursday morning, but indefinitely suspended their excavation last night with little to show. The walls had no trace of blood, according to field tests conducted at the site, law enforcement sources told The Post. And it appeared that no human bones were in the cement, sources said. Read More: New York Post

‘Poor’ Meeks parties rich

Gregory Meeks, one of the poorest members of Congress, continues to party like a 1 percenter. The Queens Democrat scored coveted Super Bowl tickets in February, weeks after living it up in Las Vegas. The good times were paid for by his campaign and political action committees, which footed the bill for plane fare, hotels, meals and tickets. He used campaign funds to snag $19,000 worth of Super Bowl ducats, buying them from television networks, ticket brokers and the NFL, according to his recently released campaign filing. Read More: New York Post

 

Surveillance video eyed for clues into Queens man’s death outside Midtown club

Investigators don’t believe there was any criminality in the mysterious death of a Queens welder outside a Midtown club early Saturday, law-enforcement sources said. Michael Lin, 27, fell down a flight of stairs at District 36, on West 36th Street near Fifth Avenue, police believe. Waitresses smoking outside on a 3 a.m. break noticed that he was bleeding profusely from the mouth. He was taken to Bellevue Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Read More: New York Post

Sources: Former Gov. Paterson Joining MTA Board

The next stop for former New York Governor David Paterson’s long career is on the MTA board. Sources tell NY1 Governor Andrew Cuomo is set to name Paterson to the seat vacated by Nancy Shevell. Shevell resigned back in January shortly after marrying Paul McCartney. Since leaving the governor’s office at the end of 2010, Paterson has hosted a daily radio talk show on WOR. Read More: NY1

 

 

Supreme Court Will Not Hear NYC Rent Laws Appeal

The U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday it will not hear an appeal aimed at tossing the city’s rent stabilization laws. The high court refused to hear an appeal from Manhattan couple James and Jeanne Harmon who lost earlier attempts to get the laws thrown out. The couple inherited a building on the Upper West Side but they say rent stabilization laws force them to rent some apartments at 59 percent below market price. They argue that the government has illegally taken their property by giving tenants lifetime tenure with succession rights. A federal judge and the second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals have both thrown out their lawsuit. Read More: NY1

 

EAU de MO! Yankee legend Mariano Rivera to pitch team fragrance

THE YANKEES’ closer and a two-time All-Star are going to bat for the Bronx Bombers’ official fragrance — and the new partnership smells like a winner. All-time Major League saves leader Mariano Rivera and star center fielder Curtis Granderson have signed on as “brand ambassadors” for the Yanks’ fragrant elixir. The two Bombers will be making public appearances all season to promote “New York Yankees” for men and “New York Yankees for Her,” which went on sale this month. Read More: Daily News

New York City looking for actors to play homeless people in public service announcement

When the city Homeless Services Department went looking for people to play the homeless in a public service announcement, it put out a casting call — for actors. Bureaucrats prepping for the agency’s first such announcement in three years sounded like Broadway producers in a Casting.com ad, asking for “real people types.” Advocates for the homeless were quick to bash the idea of paying stand-ins for the real deal. Read More: Daily News

Bank helps customers prepare for retirement


| tpetropoulosedit@queenscourier.com

The Courier/Photos

The road to retirement is often a tricky one, with many obstacles along the way.

On April 18, Dime Savings Bank tried to make that road a little smoother by hosting a dinner to discuss options for retirement with select customers at Luigi’s Italian Restaurant in Glen Oaks.

This is the third event of its kind the bank has done this year and the first in Queens.

“We believe that it is our responsibility as their bank to educate them on all the options that are available so they can make more money,” said Larry Kinitsky, Senior Vice President of Marketing at The Dime Savings Bank of Williamsburg, which helped organize the event. “In this event, we educate and reward our customers, let them have dinner and have a good time while also getting educated.”

In between a dinner of Italian specialties and a desert of assorted pastries, Mary Ferrante, regional vice president for U.S. Life, a partner of Dime Bank, gave a PowerPoint presentation and fielded questions from the roughly 45 attendees.

Ferrante discussed how planning for retirement has changed over the years, how every individual should have a specific plan, and the benefit of annuities.
“We all dream that when we are retired we can sit and relax in our rocking chairs,” said Ferrante. “No one wants to be in their rocking chair worrying about where their money is going.”

Branch managers from Garden City, Bayside, Hillcrest and Glen Oaks were also at the event, mingling with guests and giving one-on-one advice.

“I think the event was very informative and I learned a lot,” said attendee Carolyn Sorrentino. “It was absolutely better than anything I would have expected.”

This Morning’s Headlines


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Trayvon shooter Zimmerman walks out of jail on $150K bond

George Zimmerman, the neighborhood-watch volunteer who shot and killed unarmed teen Trayvon Martin, has been sprung from jail. Zimmerman, wearing a beige jacket and jeans and carrying a large brown bag, walked out of the John E. Polk Correctional Facility at midnight on $150,000 bond. He ignored shouted questions from the half- dozen reporters waiting outside, where he was met by five cars — a white BMW SUV and four green and white Town Cars belonging to the Sheriff’s Department. Read More: New York Post

 

Queens bridge shops sue city over crashes

Two Queens shops shuttered after out-of-control cars plowed into their storefronts not once but twice — and within just nine days of each other — have filed a $1 million lawsuit, blaming a 59th Street Bridge exit ramp. Espinal Caribbean Restaurant II had been open four years in Long Island City when the first crash happened in March 2011. “It was a major setback and years of work evaporated,’’ owner Tony Espinal said. “But then the second crash! “And then the third crash!” he said, referring to yet another in which a car sped toward the shops, only to be stopped by scaffolding erected after the earlier accidents. Read More: New York Post

 

Flood Watch In Effect As Spring Nor’easter Soaks City

New Yorkers are getting plenty of use out of their raincoats and umbrellas as a spring Nor’Easter continues to whip up some serious precipitation. A flood watch remains in effect through Monday morning for the entire city as up to three inches of rain could fall in some parts. Meteorologists say the worst of the storm will likely arrive early in the overnight hours and could bring wind gusts between 30 and 40 miles per hour. As of early Sunday evening, no major flooding had been reported. The city’s flash flood plan was activated on Thursday and crews began cleaning catch basins last week. Read More: NY1

 

 City Earth Day Events Take On Different Shades Of Green

New Yorkers gathered for events to “green” up the city all day Sunday as part of Earth Day 2012. In addition to the first annual Harlem Earth Day being held, there were also plantings and discussions on green development in Morningside Park, Marcus Garvey Park and Central Park. The first-ever Earth Day on the High Line featured a giant salad preparation and the chance to meet one-on-one with the elevated park’s gardeners. The performance art piece was the brain child of artist Alison Knowles, who first did the performance 50 years ago. Read More: NY1

 

 

Mystery grows in death of Michael Lin, 27-year-old clubgoer who died early Saturday

New details emerged Sunday about what happened to a 27-year-old Queens man who suffered fatal injuries while at a midtown club early Saturday. Michael Lin appeared to have had a broken jaw and bruises on his body when cops found him outside Koreatown hotspot District 36 about 3 a.m. Saturday, police said previously. He died at Bellevue Medical Center an hour later. Investigators now believe Lin had tried to leave the W. 36th St. party joint to smoke a cigarette, using a second-floor emergency exit, police sources said. Read More: Daily News

Hammer-armed rapist arrested: cops

A Queens teenager has been arrested for attacking two women in Brooklyn in which he used a hammer to threaten them, police said Friday. Anthony Moore, 19, of Queens Village, allegedly raped an 18-year-old after threatening her with a hammer and forcing her to a desolate spot in Brownsville about 12:40 a.m. on April 9, cops said. Later that day, around 11 a.m., Moore approached a 22-year-old woman near Stone Ave. and tried to threaten her with a hammer, but she fought him off, cops said. Read More: Daily News

Is Ridgewood set to get a new school?


| jlane@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos

Kids in a crowded Queens neighborhood will have more room to expand their minds when a new school opens in Ridgewood — though they will have to wait three years.
More than 100 parents attended a public hearing on Tuesday, April 10 held by Community Board 5’s education committee at P.S. 305 on Seneca Avenue, across the street from the proposed site for the new school.

The hearing was held to discuss the building of a new 444-seat, state-of-the-art school and the School Construction Authority (SCA) was on hand to answer questions about the proposed structure.

The site – the St. Aloysius school building which closed last year, has not yet been purchased – but the SCA — which handles the planning, designing and construction of new schools — is in talks with the church to buy the property.

After purchase, an environmental analysis must be done before the school is demolished and a new building constructed. The goal — which the SCA labeled “aggressive” — is to have the school opened by September, 2015.

Parents of children at P.S. 305 are hoping that the new school would be an extension of the school which currently only goes up to the third grade. Twice the school has asked to be expanded to fifth grade, but has been denied. Currently, children graduate to P.S. 81 for fourth and fifth grades before going to a third school for sixth through eighth grades.

The Department of Education (DOE) said it will not have any details on what grades the school will house until the purchase is finalized.
A representative from Councilmember Diana Reyna’s office was on hand and applauded the DOE for addressing the issue of overcrowding in Ridgewood.
“The new primary elementary school at the former St. Aloysius site shows that the SCA and DOE have been listening to the community and have heard the need for the creation of more elementary school spots,” said the spokesperson.

The building will be built to accommodate children from any grades, kindergarten through 8th grade, said Pat Grayson, chair of CB5’s education committee.
At CB5’s monthly meeting the next day, board members approved the construction of the school building.

6th District candidates pick up endorsements


| mchan@queenscourier.com


Candidates in the buzzing 6th Congressional District race have rolled out more boosts to their campaigns. Councilmember Dan Halloran picked up support from the Uniformed Fire Marshals Association, while Assemblymember Rory Lancman got the backing of the Communications Workers of America, District 1.

Contending for the same seat, Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley got a leg up from the Captains Endowment Association — which represents the NYPD’s captains, deputy inspectors,inspectors and deputy chiefs — along with the Mason Tenders District Council of Greater New York and Long Island.

Assemblymember Grace Meng — the Queens County Democratic Organization’s bid — received endorsements from Latino community leaders, including former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer, Congressmember Nydia Velazquez, Councilmember Julissa Ferreras, Senator Jose Peralta and Assemblymember Francisco Moya. She also received shared endorsements by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Comptroller John Liu, former Comptroller Bill Thompson and public advocate Bill de Blasio.

Jeff Gottlieb — who Lancman accused of being a “sham candidate” — did not receive any endorsements as of April 18, said Jay Golub, Gottlieb’s campaign spokesperson.

 

Final Chapter For Flushing?


| mchan@queenscourier.com

The Courier/Photo by Melissa Chan

Local leaders rallied to save Flushing High School before the city closes the book on the storied 137-year-old institution.

Elected officials and education advocates gathered in front of the school to protest a possible Turnaround — which would mean replacing half of the teachers and reopening the school under a new name.

“Closing Flushing High School seems to me to be one of the most short-sighted decisions that the city has ever made because graduation rates are improving,” said Senator Toby Ann Stavisky at the protest on April 16. “Over the last six years, they’ve come up. It’s starting to work. Flushing High School has been slowly reversing the trend.”
Stavisky, who worked as a substitute teacher at the school before her election to the State Senate, said Flushing High School is home to many students who do not speak English as their first language, which she said may be attributed to the school’s low success rate.

“If a child comes into this building speaking no English and, instead of graduating in four years, he graduates in five years — that child should be commended. [He should] not have a finger pointed at him like he’s bringing the school down,” said Dermot Smyth, a United Federation of Teachers (UFT) representative.

DOE spokesperson Frank Thomas said Flushing High School received a “D” on its most recent progress report, with an “F” on the student performance section. He also said graduation rates at schools serving similar populations are significantly higher than at Flushing.

According to Thomas, the DOE cannot afford to let underperforming schools linger while a teacher evaluation deal is hammered out and implemented. He said the

Turnaround plan keeps the best parts of the existing school, including its highest quality faculty, while creating a new program, new school culture and a different and better environment for students.

Flushing High School’s first public hearing was scheduled for Wednesday, April 18 at 6 p.m. after The Courier went to press. A meeting to introduce next year’s new school principal — Magdalen Radovich — will be held on Wednesday, April 25 at 7 p.m.

 

This Morning’s Headlines


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Red Sox troubles, Yankees rivalry highlight Fenway anniversary

They’ll kick off the weekend with a party here, a mass gathering this afternoon to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park. All sorts of dignitaries will be on site, and the stubborn Yankees even have agreed to wear throwback uniforms in honor of this remarkable structure. How ironic for Red Sox Nation, though, that at a time it is honoring its building, its foundation — the team that occupies Fenway — seems quite shaky. Read More: New York Post

Delta jet lands at JFK with smoking engine after bird hit

A Delta jet slammed into birds as it took off from Kennedy Airport yesterday — and had to make an emergency landing back at JFK with one of its engines on fire. As smoke filled the cabin and horrified passengers feared for their lives, the pilots — whose names weren’t revealed — coolly landed the damaged craft at 3:25 p.m. without injury to any of the 179 passengers and crew aboard, a Delta spokesman said. Read More: New York Post

 

Most New Yorkers Feel Pain At The Gas Pump

The gas fumes are not the only thing making drivers sick to their stomach; it’s the cost of filling up. “Let’s just say that I’m going into the supermarket and I can’t afford to buy as much as I usually would,” said one New Yorker. “Credit card bills, gas and food, and I don’t know which is worse,” said another. “I’m in the car business down here and it’s all everybody is talking about,” said a third. Read More: NY1

 

Terrorist: Queens Defendant Could Not Make Bombs But Still Wanted To Attack City Subways

The admitted mastermind behind a plot to blow up crowded city subway trains took the stand again on Wednesday in the trial of his high school classmate. As Adis Medunjanin’s terror trial in Brooklyn federal court continued on Wednesday, the defense began its cross-examination of Zazi. Zazi gave intricate details to the defense of how he traveled to Pakistan and learned how to make bombs from al-Qaeda members. Read More: NY1

 

 

Dead Queens teen was restrained by school staff: cops

A Queens teenager died suddenly Thursday after he was restrained by staff at a school for emotionally and developmentally troubled kids, police and students said. Corey Foster, 16, of Jamacia, was hauled off of a basketball court at the Biondi Education Center at the Leake & Watts facility in Yonkers Wednesday night and went into cardiac arrest as he was being removed, witnesses said. Read More: Daily News
Rockaway stretch turns into racetrack for rogue drivers 

Benard Pelzer spends his afternoons shepherding children across the street. But what was once a routine task has become a risky proposition as a lawless stretch of Rockaway roadway has turned into a perilous speedway, the crossing guard and several residents said. The section of Rockaway Beach Blvd. between Beach 73rd and Beach 79th Sts. isn’t governed by any signs or traffic lights, leaving pedestrians to jog across the street as motorists far exceed the speed limit, residents said. Read More: Daily News

Top Headlines From Around the Web


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

TLC Holds Final Vote On Plan Allowing Livery Cab Hails

The city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission is set to vote today on the five-borough taxi plan which, if passed, would allow livery cabs to pick up street hails in Upper Manhattan and the other four boroughs. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill in December allowing the city to issue up to 18,000 permits for livery cabs that can pick up street hails. Now the TLC will hold a hearing and vote on new rules meant to cover livery hail cabs, traditional livery cars and yellow taxis. Read More: NY1

 

Report: City Steps Up Enforcement Of Parks Smoking Ban

After mostly looking the other way, city parks officers have been stepping up enforcement of the smoking ban in city parks. According to the Wall Street Journal, officers have handed out 108 summonses so far this year for smoking at parks, beaches and pedestrian plazas. That’s compared to just 84 tickets that were issued in the first eight months of the ban. Violators face a $50 fine. The ban was originally billed as a self-enforcing law. Read More: NY1

 

FBI agents search Manhattan apartment for remains of Etan Patz

A team of investigators was tearing up an empty SoHo basement Thursday morning in a hunt for the remains of long-missing 6-year-old Etan Patz. The joint FBI/NYPD team, which began searching around 8:30 a.m., was reinvestigating the cold case that has captivated the nation for the last 33 years, said NYPD spokesman Paul Browne. “Information that was known at the time is being re-examined,” Browne said. “It does involve a suspect. They’re looking to see if they find any remains.” Read More: Daily News
Hollis community leaders aim to take back abandoned buildings

Next to the scores of children enjoying recess at Renaissance Middle School’s playground is a brick wasteland that stretches for two blocks in Hollis. In most of the dilapidated buildings — on one side of Hollis Ave. between 202nd St. and 204th St. — the windows are boarded up, shattered or cracked. Some have crumbling front steps. Others have walls cracked to their foundation. Weeds have taken over lawns and sidewalks, and trash is strewn in the back yards. If it looks desolate and deserted, that’s because they’ve been abandoned for 16 years, said community leaders, who have tried in vain to buy the buildings from the landlord, Rita Stark. Read More: Daily News
Secret Service pre-planned party at Colombian Hotel

Secret Service agents did their own sexy advance work — booking a hotel party space for prostitutes in Colombia before hitting the town to scout local pros, according to a new report.President Obama’s men made reservations for a party room, big enough to hold 30 people, at at the Hotel Caribe in Cartagena, and then hit a local brothel, ABC News reported today. The boom-boom room bombshell shows that disgraced agents were getting the lay of the land, in advance to long night of fun. Read More: New York Post

Parents of young girls sexually assaulted by Yeshiva tutor lash out at perv

The parents of two young girls who were sexually assaulted by their religious tutor, lashed out this morning at the “wolf in sheep’s clothing” they allowed in their homes as a judge tossed the pervert in jail. Yeshiva student Hillel Selznick, 25, of Flushing, admitted to Queens Supreme Court Justice Richard Buchter that he inappropriately touched the two fourth graders over the course of a year during private religious lessons inside their Kew Gardens Hills homes. Read More: New York Post

Class in session: City to get 54 new schools, two in Queens


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com


Spring may signify new beginnings, but schools will be “bloom”ing this fall.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott on April 17 to announce the opening of 54 new schools across the city for the 2012-2013 school year. The new schools – 30 of which will be run by the district, along with 24 charters – will serve more than 7,000 students from kindergarten through high school next year, and over 21,000 kids when they grow to full size.

Of the 54 schools, two will be in Queens – Wave Preparatory School, an elementary school in District 27, will replace P.S. 215 Lucretia Mott, located at 535 Briar Place in Far Rockaway, and Central Queens Academy Charter School will open in District 24.

Including those slated to open this fall, 589 new schools have now been created in the five boroughs since 2002.

“Our children deserve great schools, our parents deserve great options, and our administration is committed to delivering them to families in every neighborhood in the five boroughs,” Bloomberg said. “The 54 new schools that will open next year reflect our commitment to children and parents, and they will build on the successful records established by the hundreds of new small schools we have already created. These new schools, including our new Academy for Software Engineering, which will train students not just in the language of computers but also in the language of innovation, will help prepare our students to succeed in the new global economy.”

According to the mayor’s office, evidence has indicated that new schools rank higher on parent satisfaction surveys than other schools across the city and perform better on state math and reading exams and graduate students at considerably higher rates than schools they replace. New schools also serve similar percentages of black and Latino students, English language learners and students with disabilities compared to the schools they replace.

Many of the new schools opened during the Bloomberg administration have followed the model of smaller schools – a strategy MDRC, a nonpartisan education and social policy research group, says “markedly improves graduation rates for a large population of low-income, disadvantaged students of color.”

“As we’ve seen over the past decade, new schools have changed thousands of lives in New York City for the better, helping more students graduate and prepare for college and careers,” Walcott said. “I want to thank all 54 new school principals, who have taken the bold step of building a new school community and offering families high quality options. Every child and every neighborhood deserve a great school, and we are proud to continue a strategy that has delivered just that for the past 10 years.”

Health Exchange will make insurance more accessible


| brennison@queenscourier.com


The governor issued an executive order recently establishing a statewide health insurance exchange after the state legislature failed to pass the bill last year.
Governor Andrew Cuomo established the New York Health Benefit Exchange on Thursday, April 12 saying, “The bottom line is that creating this health exchange will lower the cost of health insurance for small businesses, local governments and individual New Yorkers across the state.”

The statewide health care exchange will allow individuals and businesses to purchase health insurance through a state marketplace, and will comply with President Barack Obama’s health care plan. If a state did not institute one by January 2014, it would be enrolled in the federal program.

More than 2.7 million New Yorkers are uninsured, costing the state and local governments more than $600 million per year — this adds an additional $800 in premiums to a family’s average cost every year, the governor’s office said.

“The sky-high cost of insurance in New York is driving businesses out of the state and preventing lower income New Yorkers from being able to afford needed coverage,” Cuomo said. “Establishing the health exchange will bring true competition into the health care marketplace, driving costs down across the state.”

Twelve other states have established health insurance exchanges since the president enacted the Affordable Care Act in March 2010; two of the dozen states’ exchanges were also instituted through an executive order.

The Democratic-controlled Assembly passed the New York Health Benefit Exchange in June, but the Republican-controlled Senate did not vote on the measure prior to the ending of the year’s legislative session.

The exchange will be created within the state’s Health Department as opposed to as a separate entity, as was originally proposed in the legislation.

“During these tough economic times, access to quality, affordable health care is more important than ever,” said Karen Scharff, executive director of Citizen Action of New York. “By creating New York’s Health Insurance Exchange, over 1 million people who don’t have health coverage will.”

His ‘Imperfect’ life inspires


| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE QUEENS COURIER/Photo by Billy Rennison

Though his autobiography is entitled “Imperfect,” the cover captures the one day in his career Jim Abbott was perfect — well, unhittable.

Abbott, a former Yankees pitcher, was on hand at Queens College to speak about overcoming adversity — a lifelong struggle for the lefty.

“If we know anything, we know that challenges will come,” Abbott said. “It comes to all of us in a lot of different forms.”

Abbott was a lefty for one simple reason — he was born without a right hand.

Dozens attended the speech in the college’s Student Union ballroom that was part of CUNY’s disability awareness month.

“He’s inspiring, even for someone without a physical handicap,” said Steven, a junior.

Abbott’s tome, Imperfect: An Improbable Life, released in April, tells the tale of the pitcher’s life growing up in Flint, Michigan, his award-winning days at the University of Michigan and on the U.S. national team and his days as a major leaguer.

“I don’t believe you have to be bound by the circumstances you’re born into,” he shared. “With strength and resiliency we all have it within us to adapt.”

Adapting was at the heart of the hurler’s talk, utilizing the word as an acronym outlining the traits needed to overcome any struggle: A: adjustability; D: determination; A: accountability; P: perseverance; T: trust.

Though the former major leaguer doesn’t like to harp on his disability, he realized that even as he climbed the ladder of success and entered the majors, his difference was always going to follow him.

In one of Abbott’s first little league games, the opposing coach had the first six players on his team bunt to see if he could field it and make the play at first.

“Six straight times,” Abbott recalled. “Two innings.”

A bunt almost destroyed his chance at baseball history on the night of September 4, 1993.

After holding the explosive Cleveland Indians hitless over the first eight innings on that fateful night, speedy leadoff hitter Kenny Lofton laid a bunt down the first base line. On his way to a sure single and breaking up Abbott’s chance at immortality, the ball bounded foul.

Lofton grounded out, followed by a fly out and another ground out and Abbott entered into the select group of pitchers over the game’s 100-plus years to throw a no-hitter and marked the crowning achievement in his unlikely story.

“It makes you think about what you can attain,” Derek, a sophomore at the college, said of Abbott’s accomplishments.

After retiring, Abbott spoke at his daughter’s pre-school career day. During his speech, his daughter raised her hand and asked, “Do you like your little hand?”

He had never thought about that, but took a second and answered.

“I like my little hand, but I haven’t always liked it, and it hasn’t always been easy. But you know what, my little hand has taught me an important lesson — life’s not easy. If you can find your own way of doing things, if you can make the most out of what you’ve been given, if you can believe in yourself no matter where you go in this world, nothing is going to stop you.”

This Morning’s Headlines


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

6 months for yeshiva perv

A yeshiva student admitted yesterday to inappropriately touching two 8-year-old girls to whom he was giving private religious instruction. Queens Supreme Court Justice Richard Buchter sentenced Hillel Selznicek, 25, to six months in prison, calling him a “wolf in sheep’s clothing’’ who “betrayed their trust in the most disgusting way.’’

Read More: New York Post

 

Weiner a jerk before crotchgate, craved media attention: book

Disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner was behaving like a jerk long before the world got a glimpse of his crotch. A new book offering an inside look at the US House of Representatives depicts Weiner as a desperately ambitious loudmouth who berated his staff and would do or say anything for TV airtime. Weiner “would enter his office in the Rayburn Building screaming at the top of his lungs, ‘Why the f–k am I not on MSNBC?!’” journalist Robert Draper wrote in “Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the US House of Representatives.” Read More: New York Post

 

Rapper guilty in ’93 slay

Former Bad Boy rapper G. Dep was convicted yesterday of a decades-old murder — a cold-case East Harlem shooting that was solved only when he walked into a station house two years ago and turned himself in, to square himself with God. The 37-year-old father of three now faces the mandatory minimum sentence for murder — 15 years. “I told him to not regret his decision and that God won’t abandon him,” said his lawyer, Anthony Ricco. “Trevell Coleman is a very courageous person,” he added, using the rapper’s given name. Read More: New York Post


Delta Flight With Blown Tire Able To Land Safely At JFK

John F. Kennedy International Airport had a nerve-wracking scene Wednesday as a Delta flight from Paris with a blown tire tried to land. A Delta spokesman says Flight 185 to New York blew the tire while taking off from Charles de Gaulle Airport in France. The crew was not sure if the tire was blown when the plane was airborne. The spokesman said air traffic controllers with binoculars were able to see the deflated tire during a fly-by before the landing at JFK. Tire debris was also found on the runway. Read More: NY1

 

NYPD’s Transit Patrol Dogs Now Train In Long Island City

The NYPD’s Transit K9 Unit has moved to Long Island City, Queens from Downtown Brooklyn, and MTA officials say part of the reason is so the new facility can be in the center of the city’s mass transit system. Read More: NY1

 

Sudan diplomat’s wife is shot, wounded by stray bullet in Queens

The wife of a Sudanese diplomat was struck by a stray bullet in Queens while she was with two of her young children, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Wednesday. The tots miraculously escaped injury. The violence unfolded as Mawahad Elbahi, 31, was carrying her year-old son and her 3-year-old daughter at her side on 31st Drive in Astoria Tuesday afternoon. They were waiting for her 5-year-old son to be dropped off by his school bus when bullets started to fly. Read More: Daily News

 

Queens kindergarten waiting lists up at zoned schools

The number of incoming Queens kindergartners who were wait-listed to get into their zoned public schools rose this year, according to city data. About 950 of the borough’s prospective kindergartners were on waiting lists. The longest in the borough was at Public School 307 in Corona where 109 were on the list — making it the city’s third-largest wait. The number of new Queens kindergartners waiting for seats is up roughly 7% over last year. Read More: Daily News

Woman killed in Auburndale Fire


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

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A 63-year-old woman perished in the blaze that consumed her Auburndale home.

The victim, Joanne Brown, was found dead at the scene on Sunday, April 15. Her cousin, who Brown lived with, 59-year-old John Rebecchi, escaped.
Neighbor Sandra Villafane was one of the first people to see the fire. Up late on the computer, Villafane said she heard loud crackling noises and screams.

“Joanne! Joanne! [Rebecchi] was screaming her name,” said Villafane.

Villafane, who lives two houses over with her boyfriend, said that Rebecchi refused to leave his property. He stood by the wrought iron fence that surrounds his home and watched the fire in shock. After some coaxing, she said, she was able to get him to sit down and drink a glass of water.

At 4:39 a.m., firefighters responded to the call at the two-story private dwelling located at 45-08 189th Street. According to the FDNY, when units arrived they saw there was heavy fire on the first floor of the home.

Yu Jin Lee, who lives directly across the street, woke up on Sunday morning when she thought she heard her car alarm. Her three-year-old had also entered the room to wake her, Lee guessed because she was startled by the noise.
As soon as she looked outside, she said, she saw a column of flames.

“It was shocking,” she said. “All I kept thinking was ‘What do I have to do?’”
The fire was under control by 5:20 a.m. No firefighters were injured during the incident.

Neither Villafane nor Lee said they had any contact with Brown. Lee said she would occasionally see her smoking outside and Villafane said she and Rebecchi would exchange pleasantries every so often.
The cause of the fire is accidental electrical issues, possibly involving an extension cord, according to the FDNY.

 

This Morning’s Headlines


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Bench bombers not afraid of the big shots

Here’s the thing to remember about J.R. Smith: Whenever you think he’s as cold as Buffalo in January … well, he knows that. Whenever you wonder if he’s ever going to make another shot — or if he’s ever going to take another good shot — he’s asking himself the same thing, only with even choicer language. “You always have to remember something,” Smith said last night. “In basketball you aren’t going to make every shot.” He paused a beat. Read More: New York Post

La Guardia security knife scare

A Manhattan woman carried a switchblade knife through a La Guardia Airport checkpoint yesterday — after a TSA agent spotted it in her purse as she passed through an X-ray machine, police sources told The Post. The incredible screw-up by the Transportation Security Administration happened at 10:05 a.m. as Kelly Polonus, 24, headed to her Charlotte, NC-bound flight, the sources said. When TSA Agent Michael Sanchez saw the weapon, he told a colleague to search her bags. Read More: New York Post

Local DAs Push For Home Visiting Program To Prevent Child Abuse

The district attorneys of Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island launched Monday a statewide campaign against child abuse. A report released by Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes found at least 77,000 children in the state suffered abuse and neglect in 2010, and 114 of those children died. The study also found abuse survivors are 30 percent more likely to become violent criminals and more likely to abuse their own children. According to the report, voluntary home visiting services can reduce abuse and neglect by as much as 50 percent. Read More: NY1

 

Activists Rally To Keep Flushing High School Open

The NAACP and One Flushing Community Economic Development Center gathered with local political leaders at Flushing High School on Monday to call on the mayor and the Department of Education to keep the Queens school open. Read More: NY1

 

Subway restaurants have been closed for health violations more than any other chain in the city

Some Subway sandwich shops may want to change their slogan from “eat fresh.” The chain’s outlets were shuttered more often by city health inspectors than any other major franchise, a Daily News analysis of Health Department data found. And while it was unclear if Jared’s fabled weight loss was due to an upset stomach, Subway stores were shut down a whopping 55 times in the last five years. Read More: Daily News

Video shows teens playing ‘chicken’ with subway trains, risking their lives

Teenagers playing chicken with subway trains aren’t showing pluck — just stupidity, an MTA spokesman said Tuesday. “Playing on or near subway tracks is one of the most dangerous things anyone can do,” Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman Charles Seaton said. Seaton made the comments after a YouTube video surfaced showing a group of kids at the No. 3 line’s Kingston Ave. station jumping to the tracks and then climbing back to the platform as a train pulls in. Read More: Daily News