Tag Archives: Nydia Velazquez

Ridgewood street renamed for beloved local activist and educator

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos by Kelly Marie Mancuso


Elected officials, civic leaders, neighbors, friends and family gathered at the corner of Suydam Street and Cypress Avenue on Saturday to honor the legacy of longtime neighborhood activist, teacher and Ridgewood resident Ann Maggio.

Maggio, who died in 2013 at the age of 90, moved to Suydam Street as a teenager with her parents back in 1939, and went on to teach at the former St. Aloysius School from 1967 to 1983. However, Maggio is perhaps best known for her tireless efforts and commitment to improving the neighborhood in which she lived.

In 1984, she partnered with former Borough President Claire Shulman and Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan to renovate the Grover Cleveland Park Athletic Field and help rid the area of chronic drug use and illicit activities. She co-founded the former Suydam Street Block Association in 1985, and went on to establish the Citizens for a Better Ridgewood civic group nearly a decade later. Maggio also served on Community Board 5 for many years.

During Saturday’s ceremony, City Council member Antonio Reynoso shared his memories of Maggio as both a community leader and personal hero.

“She was as pure-hearted and as great a person that you could ever find here in the city of New York, but especially in this community. It really breaks my heart that she’s no longer with us,” he said. “She was part of a system of politics here that wasn’t always the greatest. She said, ‘Antonio, don’t let that be who you become. Be better and do well.’”

Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan remembered Maggio as a longtime friend, educator and role model. Long before their collaboration on improving the Grover Cleveland Athletic Field, Nolan had Maggio as her fifth-grade teacher at St. Aloysius School.

“She made a great impression on me, and particularly so many women and girls, because she held herself to a very high standard,” Nolan explained. “She was showing us that you could be a mom, a teacher and a wonderful, compassionate person. She never stopped using her education to help other people. She was really a pioneer in many ways. I feel a great personal debt to her.”

Ann Maggio's grandson Andrew, son Anthony, daughter-in-law Tracy and daughter Joann holding up the new street sign as a tribute to their mother

Ann Maggio’s grandson Andrew, son Anthony, daughter-in-law Tracy and daughter Joann holding up the new street sign as a tribute to their mother

“She may have been a petite lady, but she was a giant on the issues that mattered to her,” added Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez. “At a time when the country is so divided, people like Ann reminded us that we need to do better. We are a better place, right here in Ridgewood, because of people like Ann Maggio.”

Rev. George Poltorak of St. Aloysius Church offered a blessing shortly before Maggio’s family addressed the crowd, thanking them for the moving tribute. Young children pulled the string to unveil Ann Maggio Way as Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” played. A random group of butterflies flew over the crowd as a sign, some believed, of Maggio’s presence.

“Our mom, Ann, always gave and did her best and encouraged those around her to do the same,” daughter Joann Maggio said. “She was someone who shaped many lives. She was a compassionate person and woman of integrity. She always put others ahead of herself. All have been made better by knowing her. I’m proud to call her our mom.”


John Liu endorses Congressmemeber Grace Meng for re-election

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Congressmember Grace Meng

Former Comptroller John Liu put an end to rumors he may run against Congressmember Grace Meng by endorsing the popular Flushing representative for her re-election bid Monday.

“I thank John Liu for his endorsement and for highlighting the important work I’ve done in Congress during my first year in Washington,” Meng said in a statement. “I look forward to continuing to work with him to make our city, state and borough an even better place to live.”

Liu, after an unsuccessful bid for mayor, has reportedly been eyeing a spot back in elected office.

However, the current part-time Baruch College professor has not confirmed or denied any rumors that include possible challenges to Congressmember Nydia Velázquez or State Senator Tony Avella.



Queens congressmembers get mixed results on environment

| mchan@queenscourier.com

Some Queens congressmembers aced their green test last year. But some were average, and one was at the bottom of the class.

That is according to the New York League of Conservation Voters (NYLCV) latest national environmental scorecard.

Congressmembers Steve Israel and Carolyn Maloney were tops, with each scoring a 97, followed by Joseph Crowley with a 91. Both of the state’s U.S. Senators, Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, scored 93 percent. Nydia Velázquez trailed slightly with an 86 percent and Gregory Meeks pulled a 77 percent.

Former representative Gary Ackerman scored a 74. But another retiring congressmember, Bob Turner, had an abysmal 3 percent, a low matched by Tea Party Republicans representing Big Oil districts in Texas.

The scores are based on 14 Senate votes and 35 House votes on public health, clean energy, land and wildlife conservation issues.

“In the face of unprecedented attacks on laws protecting water, air and land, environmental allies like Steve Israel, Caroline [sic] Maloney … stood up for our values and put New Yorkers first,” said NYLCV President Marcia Bystryn in a statement. “While Americans were seeing the historic impacts of extreme weather right outside their window, members like … Bob Turner continued to ignore the reality of climate change.”

The state’s average House score in the most recent review was 65 percent, falling drastically from 97 percent in 2010.

“The U.S. House of Representatives sided with Big Oil and corporate polluters time and time again in 2012, cementing its status as the most anti-environmental House in our nation’s history,” said Gene Karpinski, president of the country’s League of Conservation Voters.

“The best that can be said about this session of the 112th Congress is that it’s over,” Karpinski said.




7th District goes to Velazquez

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Valazquez, Nydia colorw

Ten-term Congressmember Nydia Velazquez will have another run this November, after winning the Democrat primary for District 7, which spans from Lower Manhattan, through parts of Brooklyn and reaches into Woodhaven, where residents had expressed some concern that their district was now a part of neighborhoods with differing needs.

In her victory, Velazquez, who had received an endorsement from Governor Andrew Cuomo, received a little more than 16,000 votes, beating Councilmember Erik Dilan, Dan O’Connor and George Martinez. No Republican candidate is currently listed as running in the district.

Velazquez has served in Congress for nearly 20 years and will run for her 11th term in the November 6 general election.

According to the New York Times, Dilan received about 8,500 votes; O’Connor came in in third with more than 2,200 votes; and Martinez came in last with around 700 votes.

Despite Velazquez’s tenure on Capitol Hill, she had not received much backing from Brooklyn Democrats. Rather, Dilan had received the backing of Vito J. Lopez, chair of the Brooklyn Democrats.

The victory comes after a ballot flub that saw Velazquez’s name incorrectly translated in Chinese on some of the ballots. DNAinfo.com reported the error and that four extra characters made a pronunciation unlike Velazquez’s name. As a result, the news service reported, Velazquez and campaigners tried to notify voters at polling stations.

Primary Guide: 7th Congressional District

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

The 7th Congressional District contains parts or all of: Woodhaven, Cyprus Hill, Williamsburg, Lower East Side, Chinatown, Brooklyn Heights, Gowanus, Red Hook, South Slope, Greenwood, Sunset Park and Bushwick

Name: Erik Martin Dilan

Party: Democrat

Current Position: City Councilmember representing the 37th District.

Personal Info: Married with two children.


*Jobs: Support small businesses with new tax cuts, grants, and loans to spur job growth in our communities. Restore fairness to the tax code. Reinvest in our aging infrastructure.

*Affordable housing: Help homeowners stay in their homes and hold unscrupulous lenders accountable.

*Education: Expand access to Pre K and early childhood education services. Lower the cost of higher education by increasing opportunities for low-cost loans, service-for-loan forgiveness options.



Name: George Martinez

Party: Democrat

Current Position: Founder/Chair Global Block Foundation, Adjunct Professor of Political Science at PACE University, Cultural Ambassador for the State Department.  Former Democratic District Leader for 51st Assembly District

Personal: Married with one child


–          No robostamping bills

–          End corporate personhood

–          Single-payer, Medicare for all

–          Increased transparency and responsiveness of government

–          Federal oversight on stop and frisk

–          Moratorium on foreclosures

–          Student loan forgiveness

–          Civil liberties

–          Marriage equality

–          Small business

–          Food security

–          Campaign finance reform

Platform: We have an integrated approach to community empowerment. It’s a form of a direct action, do-it-yourself democracy model. It is for empowerment recognition. The issues listed are basically and most importantly focused on the economy, community development, securing a social safety net (such as protecting Medicare, health care and public education), getting money and corporate money out of elections and restoring the integrity of our democracy.


Name: Dan O’Connor

Party: Running as a Democrat

Personal Info: Born in Brooklyn to a family of union members. In college O’Connor studied economics and international relations. He moved to China and lived there for six years; from there he learned Cantonese and Mandarin. When he moved back to New York he began a career in renewable energy before seeking office. He has a fiancée named Jennifer.

Issues: O’Connor seeks to end military engagements, cut the military budget substantially, work hard to pass term limits, and get government out of personal issues. He will also be a community voice against stop and frisk and hydrofracking, local issues that he thinks put the people of his district at risk.

Platform: His platform is that of an outsider wanting to make a difference. He thinks big money in politics has corrupted government and the people in it so they do not lead a nation, but instead they work for corporations. He thinks we have made too many enemies and have lost far too many lives and too much money in wars we don’t need to be involved in. He pledges to only take half of his salary and only run for four terms if elected.


Name: Nydia Velazquez

Party: Democrat

Current Position: Congressmember

Personal Info: Lives in Red Hook, Brooklyn

Platform: Velazquez looks forward to returning to Congress to finish much of the work she has invested her time in for the past 20 years.

Velazquez has been a leader on a variety of issues, ranging from advocating for greater access to and distribution of small business loans to community owners, marriage quality, immigration reform, strong environmental laws and opposing the assault on seniors by attacking Medicare and privatizing Social Security.

In her time in Congress she has fought against big insurance companies and with President Barack Obama for quality, affordable health care for every American.

She has worked for jobs legislation and on extending unemployment benefits for those hit hardest by the economic downturn.

Velazquez stood up to defend women’s access to reproductive and preventative health care, and has fought tirelessly for affordable housing.

As the child of sugar cane cutters, she was able to use education as a road to greater opportunities in life. As a result, she believes in supporting our public schools and better funding for the schools, teachers and students to ensure our children have the best chances in and out of the classroom.

Velazquez also believes that comprehensive immigration reform is vital to both our economic security and our national security. As an immigrant, and the representative of a Congressional district that has immigrant communities from all over the world, she is a steadfast supporter and proponent of immigration policies that allow people to live and work in this country without persecution and that helps our national economy by putting people to work.


Check out the primary guide for all the races:

5th Congressional District

6th Congressional District

8th Congressional District

U.S. Senate



Obama endorses Velazquez

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

High Resolution Photo of Nydia_Velazquez

Highlighting efforts to create middle-class jobs and improve education, President Barack Obama endorsed incumbent Congressmember Nydia Velazquez for the 7th Congressional District seat.

“For the past two decades, Rep. Nydia Velázquez has been a constant advocate for middle-class families, helping to create an economy built to last where everyone has an opportunity to achieve the American Dream,” the president said in a statement. “Rep. Velázquez has worked tirelessly to create good middle-class jobs through community projects, provide affordable housing so folks have a decent place to lay their head at night, and invest in education so that the children in her district receive the quality education they deserve.”

Velazquez is currently serving her tenth term in Congress. Her newly-drawn district spans from lower Manhattan all the way to Woodhaven. She is running against City Councilmember Erik Dilan, Dan O’Connor and George Martinez in the June 26 Primary to see who will get the Democratic nod to run for the seat.


Investigate clean up of Newtown Creek

| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Congressmember Carolyn Maloney

Indifference to filth and pollution for over a century has mutated Newtown Creek into more of a beast than a beauty.

Beginning in the mid-1800s, contaminants were spewed into Newtown Creek by more than 50 refineries that called the waterway home, including sawmills, lumber and coal yards, fertilizer and glue factories, petrochemical plants and oil refineries. The creek was also used by commercial vessels to transport oil, chemicals, fuel and other raw materials. During World War II, the channel was one of the busiest ports in the nation, and factories continue to operate on its banks to this day.

Congressmembers Carolyn Maloney and Nydia Velázquez, Borough President Helen Marshall and Assemblymember Catherine Nolan joined EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck on a boat tour of the Newtown Creek cleanup project on October 11. During the tour, the Queens leaders were taken to the key areas of pollution in the creek.

“For far too long, Newtown Creek has been a disgrace: a toxic dumping ground since the mid-1800s, a blight on our waterways, and the scene of perhaps the largest oil spill of all time – three times the size of the Exxon Valdez,” said Maloney, referencing the Greenpoint oil spill.

In addition to the damage done by industrial pollution, the city began dumping raw sewage into the water in 1856.

As a result of its history, which includes multiple spills, Newtown Creek is among the most polluted waterways in America.

In the early 1990s, New York State declared that the channel was not meeting water quality standards under the Clean Water Act, and since that time, several government-sponsored cleanups have occurred.

Newtown Creek, whose waters wash the shores of both Queens and Brooklyn, was designated a Superfund site by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in September of last year.

The Superfund Program was established by Congress to locate, investigate and cleanup the most hazardous sites across the country. It also provides the EPA with the authority to coerce responsible parties to account for the damage they have done, either by cleaning up the site themselves or by reimbursing the government for all costs associated with the restoration.

This past July, following a year-long examination, the EPA entered into a consent order with six potentially responsible parties to conduct a remedial investigation and feasibility study of the creek’s cleanup. Field work for the investigation, which will determine the nature of the pollutants, evaluate any risks to human life or the environment and assess prospective cleanup methods, is scheduled to begin within the next month.

“Restoring the health of both sides of Newtown Creek will give residents of Queens and Brooklyn improved access to the waterfront and make our neighborhoods healthier places to live,” said Maloney.

The EPA will be holding a public information session at LaGuardia Community College, located at 31-10 Thomson Avenue in Long Island City, on Thursday, October 27 from 2 to 4 p.m. and from 7 to 9 p.m. to discuss the project.

The investigation could take as long seven years to complete, and the removal of contaminants from Newtown Creek could last an additional 10 years. A preliminary estimate by the EPA approximates the cleanup costs between $300 and $400 million.

The EPA has reported that potentially responsible parties include premier oil companies BP America, Exxon Mobil and Texaco, as well as the City of New York. These, as well as other responsible parties, will be paying for the remedial investigation and feasibility study for the near future.

During initial tests performed by the EPA, harmful contaminants such as pesticides, metals, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which easily evaporate into the air, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) have been detected in Newtown Creek.

“The more we find out about this polluted waterway, which affects two boroughs, the more we see the need to move the feasibility study along and remediation, in the form of a massive cleanup, to begin,” said Marshall.