Tag Archives: Peter Koo

Flushing welcomes Chinese rickshaw rider on world tour


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of the office of Peter Koo

Councilman Peter Koo came out to the Flushing library Saturday to welcome Chen Guanming, a Chinese farmer riding his rickshaw around the world to spread the Olympic message of peace among nations.

Chen, 60, began to pull his rickshaw around the globe after being inspired by the arrival of the Beijing Olympics in 2008. He made his way through Asia and Europe to arrive in time for the London Olympic Games in 2012, and then continued on through Canada and the United States.

“I started doing this to challenge myself and to spread the Olympic spirit of world peace around the world,” Guanming said. “I hope to encourage people to work hard, stay healthy by exercising, and to realize that no dream is too big if you have the will to accomplish it.”

So far, Chen has traveled over 170,000 kilometers through 24 nations. His next destination is Washington, D.C, and he expects to arrive in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro in time for the 2016 Olympic Games.

Koo said Chen is an inspiration to the young and old and he was grateful that so many Flushing residents came out to encourage his spirit. The councilman awarded Chen with a certificate to honor his dedication to promoting international harmony.


“The state of the world today is plagued by incidents of terrorism, financial crisis, hunger and disease,” Koo said. “In his travels, Mr. Chen has seen more than most of us ever will, and with sheer force of will and an impenetrable optimism, his passage begets a glimmer of hope and encouragement for all he encounters.”

Chen will be making appearances with his rickshaw all this week at the Flushing library to meet and pose for pictures with well-wishers. Anyone interested in his travels can visit his website.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Crews wipe out hateful message found written in Flushing sidewalk


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of City Councilman Peter Koo

Whoever wrote an anti-Asian message into the sidewalk near a Flushing condominium won’t have the satisfaction of seeing it any longer.

Crews from the Department of Transportation (DOT) on Tuesday morning erased the slur from the sidewalk slab in front of the Cherry Manor Condos at 141-18 Cherry Ave. A photo of the vandalism, apparently written while the cement was drying after being recently poured, was posted on a Facebook group on Saturday and subsequently shared with City Councilman Peter Koo.

Koo’s office then contacted the DOT and the condo management, both of which resolved to take action as quickly as possible. The DOT’s Sidewalks and Inspection Management Division buffed away the markings.

“It is critical that the community take an immediate stand against this kind of hate speech wherever and whenever it surfaces,” Koo said. “We embrace our diversity here in Flushing as a strength that should be celebrated and nurtured, and we will stand vigilant against racism in all forms.”

No one knows who wrote the message on the sidewalk, but the 109th Precinct is investigating the crime.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

State senators butt heads over Flushing pedestrian plaza plan


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Alina Suriel

State Senator Tony Avella rallied with community activists Monday against a plan which would permanently close down a stretch of Flushing’s Roosevelt Avenue to create a pedestrian plaza.

The project has Avella at odds with a legislative colleague, state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, who represents the district where the street is located and supports the plaza proposal. Avella’s Senate district is adjacent to Stavisky’s area.

“If she’s in favor of it, that’s asinine, absolutely asinine,” Avella said, adding that he did not think the street could be shut down without affecting traffic conditions in the whole area. “Toby Stavisky should be ashamed of herself for supporting something that’s going to add significant traffic congestion and make dangerous situations already worse.”

When contacted by The Courier for comment, Stavisky staffers fired back at Avella, taking offense at his involvement in a cause centered in within their district boundaries. Both Councilman Peter Koo — who represents the street in the City Council as part of District 20 — and Councilman Paul Vallone of neighboring District 19 have also supported of the plan.

“Tony Avella has made more crazy allegations than Donald Trump and now he’s at it again,” said Mike Favilla, Stavisky’s chief of staff. “Considering that Tony only received 52 percent of the vote in his last primary, perhaps he should spend more time in his own district, rather than looking for fights elsewhere.”

The Korean American Association in Queens originally proposed the public plaza idea to the DOT last year. The proposal calls for the closure of Roosevelt Avenue between 155th Street and Northern Boulevard, adjacent to Leonard Square.

A public workshop held on April 16 solicited public feedback before two trial street closings, the latest of which occurred on Friday, Aug. 7, with a DOT information booth and children’s activities.

While the targeted street is slightly outside the boundaries of his constituency, Avella objected to not being notified of the plan by the Department of Transportation (DOT), and community groups attending the rally also complained of not having been sufficiently informed.

“I only found out about this on Thursday, and my first reaction was, what idiot came up with this,” Avella said on Monday. He cited concerns of traffic congestion around Northern Boulevard that could be worsened by the change.

Avella said that a side street on which cars would be re-routed from Roosevelt Avenue is too small for such a purpose, and would quickly become overrun by the additional vehicles and back up congestion onto Northern Boulevard.

At the trial street closing on Friday, residents were divided in their opinion of whether the street closure would be an asset to the neighborhood or a nuisance they would be forced to circumnavigate.

“I’m just totally against blocking the traffic here in front of the library,” said Chris Viv, a resident of the neighborhood for nearly four decades who believed that the move would complicate traffic in other areas. “Everyone’s been coming here for years driving up and down. It’s a good flow of motor vehicles, and I think it would definitely be a hazard to the area, especially with kids going around.”

Another resident, Michael Addea, said the street in question would actually be made safer if closed off to cars and that he would utilize the proposed plaza as a spot to eat lunch.

“A lot of times cars are double parked for the restaurants because people are coming out of the strip mall,” he said. “I think closing this off would be a good idea.”

The issue will be discussed again in an upcoming public workshop before being put to a vote by Community Board 7 in September.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Grammy nominee and Disney movie for Flushing music and movie night


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Councilman Peter Koo's office

Flushing elected officials and merchants have booked a Grammy-nominated performer and critically acclaimed Disney movie for the annual outdoor Music and Movie Night.

The event will take place on Thursday, Aug. 20, at Kissena Corridor Park at Main Street and Elder Avenue, and Councilman Peter Koo joined with Assemblywoman Nily Rozic and the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce to reveal the night’s programming.

Grammy-nominated Tony-O and His Band, a blues group with a mix of original songs and covers of past hits, will play live music at 6 p.m. The musical performance will be followed by a showing of Disney’s “Big Hero 6,” an animation in which a young boy with a gift for robotics assembles a superhero team to fight evil.

“This is a great opportunity for family and friends to enjoy in an evening that celebrates our vibrant community and all that it offers,” Assemblywoman Nily Rozic said.

Funding is being provided by Rozic and Koo, who allocated a total of $4,000 in funding for the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce and the Queensboro Hill Flushing Civic Association.

“This will be a great summertime activity for families to come out and enjoy some live entertainment with their neighbors,” Koo said.

“I am looking forward to a wonderful time at the annual Music and Movie Night in the great multicultural community of Flushing, Queens — my home and birthplace,” Tony-O said.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Flushing street to be co-named after 3-year-old crash victim


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of His-Pei Liao and Amy Tam-Liao

The memory of a young Flushing girl tragically killed on a local street two years ago will live on with the co-naming of a neighborhood street.

The northeast corner of Main Street and Cherry Avenue in Flushing will be known as Allison Hope Liao Way after Allison Liao, a 3-year-old girl who was fatally hit by a car on Oct. 13, 2013, while crossing the street with her grandmother.

“Allison Liao was a bright and boisterous young girl with limitless potential who had her whole life ahead of her,” said Councilman Peter Koo, who sponsored the co-naming request. “While her senseless death was devastating to our community, it has also spurred impassioned awareness campaigns on driver safety across the city.”

After her death, Liao’s parents helped to form “Families for Safe Streets,” an advocacy group of people affected by traffic violence. The Liao family was instrumental in lowering the NYC default speed limit, and the tragedy of their daughter’s death was one of the catalysts for the foundation of the Vision Zero set of traffic and street safety initiatives.

“We are deeply grateful for Councilman Koo’s assistance in the street co-naming, and more importantly, for his continued support of Vision Zero and other street safety initiatives,” the Liao family said in a statement.

Koo said that he hoped drivers who may be distracted or impatient behind the wheel will realize the potential consequences of their carelessness.

“As drivers pass Allison Hope Liao Way, it is our hope that they recall her parents’ poignant question, ‘Is it worth it?’” Koo said.

The bill also creates Ptl. Phillip Cardillo Way on 28th Avenue between College Point Boulevard and Ulmer Street in College Point. The street is outside a new NYPD academy that opened in January.

“Soon, generations of new officers will be able to look to the sign and know his story and legacy to the department,” said bill sponsor Councilman Paul Vallone of District 19.

Cardillo had been on the force for five years when he and his partner received a false call about an officer in distress at the Nation of Islam mosque on 116th Street on April 14, 1974. The two responding officers were attacked upon their arrival, and Cardillo, 31, was fatally shot. He has been honored with an NYPD patrol boat named after him, and a book published in 2007 by author Randy Jurgenson tells the story of his death and the case against his killer.

“May this sign forever remind us of the sacrifices that the men and women of the NYPD are too often asked to selflessly make, as well as serve as a symbol that these sacrifices are never forgotten,” Vallone said. “This recognition has been long overdue and I couldn’t be more proud to right the wrongs from 43 years ago.”

The bill also names the northeast corner of Northern Boulevard and Marathon Parkway in Little Neck as Matinecock Way.

The Matinecock Native Americans once lived in communities spanning the area of northeast Queens, but the last of the tribe was driven out of Douglaston and Little Neck in 1656 in the battle of Madnan’s Neck. Matinecock graves were discovered in the 1930s at Northern Boulevard and were re-buried in the cemetery of the Zion Episcopal Church. The Bayside Historical Society and the Udalls Cove Preservation Committee were the first to bring the issue up to the Community Board.

“I am proud to finally pay the long overdue recognition to the Matinecock descendants and their ancestors who hold an important place in our neighborhood’s history,” Vallone said.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Immigration resource fair at Flushing YMCA on July 25


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the office of Senator Toby Ann Stavisky

The Flushing YMCA will host an immigration resource fair on Saturday, July 25, with state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, Assemblyman Ron Kim, and City Councilman Peter Koo.

Lawyers and other professionals experienced in the immigration process will be at the event, which will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the YMCA at 138-46 Northern Blvd. Only the first 130 attendees will be served because space is limited, so anyone interested in attending should call 646-664-9400 to reserve a spot.

The event is hosted as part of a partnership with CUNY Citizenship NOW!, the largest university-based legal assistance program in the nation. Free legal assistance in Chinese, Korean and Spanish will be available for those seeking to become American citizens.

According to Stavisky, applying for citizenship can be a costly and confusing process even for fluent English speakers.

“Becoming a citizen is a lifelong commitment to the ideals of this country and I applaud all of the applicants for their dedication and perseverance,” Stavisky said.

Koo said that assistance offered at the event would be a serious benefit to many of his constituents and encouraged the community to use it to their advantage.

“Becoming a citizen of a new country can be a complicated process that can leave applicants in a lurch due to missing documentation or inaccurate information,” Koo said. “Every day, my office receives dozens of requests from constituents seeking immigration assistance.”

Kim also encouraged Flushing residents to participate in the fair and to support the initiatives of CUNY Citizenship NOW!

“Many families in our community are looking for help and seeking consultation regarding their legal status in this country. The CUNY Citizenship NOW! Fair would provide a necessary service for those in our neighborhoods seeking to embark on a path to citizenship,” said Kim, who added that the attorneys, paralegals and volunteers at the fair were working to assist those looking to achieve the American Dream.

Eligible applicants must have lived in the U.S. as a permanent resident for at least five years (or three years if living with and married to the same U.S. citizen), must have lived in the U.S. for at least half of the three- or five-year period and must be at least 18 years old. Attendees should bring the following:

  • Green card
  • All passports since becoming a permanent resident
  • Proof of home addresses for the last three or five years
  • Parent’s naturalization information (if applicable)
  • School/employment history for the last three or five years
  • Children’s information (date of birth, A#, addresses if applicable)
  • Marital history
  • Certified dispositions for any arrests, tickets citations and MTA disposition letters (if applicable)
  • USCIS fee waiver assistance available if applicants are receiving a means-tested benefit from a state or federal agency, have a household income at or below 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, have a special financial hardship that USCIS should consider

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Mayor adds Lunar New Year holiday to NYC public school calendar


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alina Suriel

Mayor Bill de Blasio came to Flushing Tuesday morning to announce that the Lunar New Year will be an official public school holiday beginning in the 2015-16 school year, allowing students of Asian descent to celebrate with family without missing class.

The mayor made the declaration at P.S. 20 in Flushing, which counts 75 percent of the student body as being of Asian descent. The Lunar New Year has already been added to the NYC public school calendar and will take place next year on February 8.

“There was a lot we had to balance to get this right,” said de Blasio, who cited difficulties in ensuring that the state-mandated 180 yearly school days fit into the plan. “It took some work, but it happened.”

Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña emphasized the importance of keeping a steady education schedule for the 1.1 million students of the city and offered her support of new holiday. To make up for the school hours lost, two separate half-days already in the calendar will be lengthened to become full days of classes.

“Taking time off to honor people’s heritage is also important,” said Fariña.

This is the second time de Blasio had made moves toward cultural inclusion in the school calendar. In March he also declared the two holiest days in the Islamic calendar, Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Adha, as official public school holidays.

The mayor was joined by a host of officials and community leaders who had long been advocating for the change.

“For too long, families have been forced to choose between celebrating this important cultural holiday and sending their child to school,” said Councilman Peter Koo, a Shanghai native. “By including Lunar New Year in the school calendar, New York City shows that we are an ever-evolving city that takes pride in the cultural traditions of its diverse populations.”

“This holiday is not about kids just getting a day off from school,” added Assemblyman Ron Kim, who attended P.S. 20 as a student himself 30 years ago. “It’s about the City of New York telling hundreds of thousands of Asian Americans that their culture and heritage is part of the American fabric.”

Kim and Koo, along with Rep. Grace Meng and many other prominent members of the Asian-American community, have all pushed for the mayor to establish the school holiday after de Blasio promised to do so while on the campaign trail in 2013.

After seeing no movement forward in the initiative for the Lunar New Year, Kim took on the responsibility of pushing it forward himself this year by authoring state legislation which would have given all New York children the day off. While that bill is still pending, Kim has said that he would lay aside the legislation in the interest of collaborating with the de Blasio administration.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

YMCA questions its place in Flushing Commons project


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Flushing YMCA

A new recreational center is being built at Flushing Commons, but questions remain as to whether the Flushing YMCA will operate it.

Paul Custer, senior vice president of government affairs for the YMCA of Greater New York, told The Courier in an exclusive interview that the nonprofit organization is looking for answers regarding the project in planned meetings with Flushing Commons’ developers, F&T Group, and the city’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC).

The Flushing Y came on board with the Flushing Commons plan as the project’s “community benefit.” Original plans called for the new Flushing Y — which currently operates out of a 90-year-old building on Northern Boulevard — to be created on the second and third floors of a building erected during the project’s first phase.

Those plans, however, were amended in 2009 as a result of economic issues related to the project, Custer said. As part of a redesign, the Flushing Y was relocated to the basement of a retail and commercial building called “The Elm” to be constructed at the corner of 39th Avenue and 138th Street.

“It’s not a very viable place,” Custer said. “It’s kind of hard to make it a community center [from the basement].”

The changes, he noted, compromise the YMCA’s goals transforming its Flushing chapter into a 21st-century community center, allowing it to offer new programs and existing initiatives while also removing any physical obstacles preventing people from participating in them.

Michael Meyer of the F&T Group told The Courier that the group mutually agreed to explore “alternative locations or alternative buildings” at the Flushing Commons site for the Flushing Y.

“We will explore that with them and hopefully we’ll find a way to get there,” Meyer said. “But that’s all on the drawing boards and there’s no certainty.”

In future meetings with F&T Group and city representatives, Custer hopes the Flushing Y could find a more viable place at Flushing Commons. If that goal can’t be fulfilled, he noted, the Y will need to explore other alternatives while continuing to maintain an aging facility. It has reached out to local elected officials for assistance.

Meyer said the Flushing Y “has a home in Flushing Commons” and the F&T Group will construct a recreational center in the project, as required in its deal with the city. Should the Flushing Y choose to no longer participate in the project, he said, the F&T Group would seek another organization to operate the recreational center.

“We’re still building the facility,” he added. “That’s our agreement with the city. There’s no doubt about that.”

One elected official involved in the process, Councilman Peter Koo, was optimistic that a deal could be reached.

“The proposed YMCA in Flushing Commons would provide a tremendous boon to our community,” Koo said in a statement to The Courier. “I have encouraged both sides to come to the table to discuss how the project will move forward and remain optimistic that a mutually beneficial agreement will be reached between the two parties.”

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Hoping for Lunar New Year holiday, lawmakers move to end Brooklyn-Queens Day


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/File photo

State lawmakers introduced on Tuesday a bill that would eliminate Brooklyn-Queens Day from the New York City public school calendar.

The measure sponsored by state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky aims to clear a day on the calendar to permit public schools to close for the Asian Lunar New Year in the winter. Brooklyn-Queens Day, which falls on the first Thursday of June, marks the foundation of the first Sunday schools in both boroughs during the 19th century.

For decades, local Protestant churches celebrated Brooklyn-Queens Day with parades through their communities, but the parades stopped in recent years as Protestant congregations plummeted. The last major Brooklyn-Queens Day parade took place in Ridgewood in 2009, ending a century-long tradition.

Nevertheless, schools in Brooklyn and Queens remain closed the first Thursday of June, but many of them use the day for staff development.

The bill states that “there is no reason to continue this anachronistic holiday in state statutes when there is pressure to increase the time students spend in school.” However, Stavisky noted, the elimination of Brooklyn-Queens Day gives the city Department of Education (DOE) flexibility in adding another holiday such as Asian Lunar New Year.

“As a former teacher, I understand the mayor and the Department of Education have a mandate to make sure students are receiving as much classroom instructional time as possible,” Stavisky said. “But educating our students and allowing them to observe important cultural holidays should not be opposing goals. I believe that removing the now defunct Brooklyn-Queens Day and replacing it with the Lunar New Year is a pragmatic solution that the mayor and the Department of Education must consider.”

Among those who joined Stavisky at a Tuesday press conference in Flushing in support of the bill were state Senator Daniel Squadron, Assemblymen Ron Kim and Edward Braunstein, Assemblywoman Nily Rozic and City Councilman Peter Koo.

“The history of Brooklyn-Queens Day demonstrates how observance of this day on the public school calendar has changed over the years to meet the changing demographics of our city,” Koo said. “Today, approximately 15 percent of our New York City public school students identify as Asian-American, and we must take this into consideration as we prepare the school calendar for future years.”

According to Stavisky’s office, city public schools in Asian-majority neighborhoods report absentee rates as high as 80 percent on Lunar New Year, which is “the most important cultural celebration on the Asian calendar.”

Earlier this year, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed legislation declaring two Muslim holidays, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, as school holidays beginning this September. Koo criticized the mayor in March for failing to grant the same holiday status for the Asian Lunar New Year.

Last December, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation granting the DOE greater flexibility to close schools on cultural and religious holidays. By law, all New York City public schools are required to hold at least 180 school days every year.

RECOMMENDED STORIES 

First charter meeting for Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

City Council Member Peter Koo swears in the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce board of directors last Wednesday. (photo courtesy of Koo's office)

The Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce continued its growth on the afternoon of March 18 with its first membership meeting that attracted numerous civic and business leaders.

The chamber’s first formal task was to elect a board of directors to oversee the organization’s operation under the stewardship of co-chairs Simon Gerson and Chris Kui. The organization also appointed a council of advisers and approved its corporate bylaws and agenda for the months ahead.

“The Flushing Chamber is proud to provide leadership to ensure the continued prosperity of our community,” Gerson said. “Our local businesses will benefit from the networking, education and advocacy opportunities that the chamber provides.”

Greater Flushing looks to replace the void that the 80-year-old Flushing Chamber of Commerce left when it dissolved in 2012. Many blamed the group’s inability to change with the times and neighborhood’s demographics as key factors resulting in its demise.

But Greater Flushing Executive Director John Choe said the upstart group aims to create a “multicultural and modern” organization catering to all businesses and people in Flushing from every background. Greater Flushing already has about 70 businesses as members, and Choe hopes that number will double in the next few months.

“I think Flushing deserves a chamber that will advocate on behalf of the entire community,” he said. “We haven’t had a chamber for a long time, even though we’re the fourth-largest commercial district in the city.”

Greater Flushing already has a “very full plate” of programs aiming to serve and enrich businesses, residents and visitors alike, Choe added, including a free English language program in partnership with Monroe College. The chamber also wants to sponsor several street fairs this summer and launch free financial literacy programs.

The chamber is also considering creating a “formal lending circle” with established credit agencies, Choe noted. Traditional lending circles often practiced among immigrant families involve members donating funds into a central account, with the lump sum then provided to someone launching a business or buying a home, among other purposes.

The formal circle, Choe said, would follow regulations and ensure accountability with the borrowers.

City Councilman Peter Koo had the honor of installing the newly-elected board of directors and threw his support to the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce, saying the group would provide “small business owners with the resources they need to expand and grow.”

“We are still living in a climate of over-regulation that remains challenging for many small business owners, so the Flushing Chamber will be a welcomed addition to our diverse business community,” Koo said.

Greater Flushing’s board of directors consists of Gerson, Kui and Don Capalbi of the Queensboro Hill Flushing Civic Association, Perka Chan of HealthFirst, Michael Cheng of Epos Global Management, Taehoon Kim of Regen Acupuncture, Ellen Kodadek of Flushing Town Hall, Michael Lam of Century Homes Realty Group LLC, Alice Lee of HealthPlus Amerigroup, Alfred Rankins of the Latimer House Museum, Maureen Regan of Green Earth Urban Gardens and Leo Zhang of the law firm of Geng & Zhang.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Flushing senior center enriches members’ lives with technology


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

For a senior center in Flushing, innovation is measured by iPads and in megabytes.

The City Council allocated $150,000 to senior centers like the Benjamin Rosenthal Prince Street Innovative Senior Center so that it could continue to develop technological programs that, among other things, allow older people to connect with their families using Skype. The senior center is run by Selfhelp and was designated by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg as an “innovation center” along with seven other places in 2012.

“This Council has been determined to enhance senior services and Selfhelp is a great example,” City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said on Friday during a tour of the center.

Skype is used as the engine of the virtual senior center, which provides seniors with extra-large computer screens, so even those with failing eyesight can participate remotely in live events.

Such events include virtual tours of the Guggenheim and the Museum of Modern Art.

Councilmen Paul Vallone and Peter Koo joined Mark-Viverito on the tour, and both emphasized the importance of caring for the elderly and stimulating their minds with devices like the Nintendo Wii game console that the center has.

Vallone said that with the new allocation they would be able to make more centers “innovative.”

“My senior centers in northeast Queens are going to start experiencing this wonderful technology as we start phasing it in,” he said. “This is the beginning of something wonderful.”

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

Verizon heroes honored by City Council for stopping Flushing rape


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Councilmember Julissa Ferreras

Three Queens-bred Verizon technicians who thwarted a rape in Flushing in October were honored by the City Council Tuesday for their gallant rescue. 

“No one should ever have to experience such an atrocious crime as rape,” said Councilmember Julissa Ferreras, who chairs the Council’s Women’s Issues Committee.

Michael Popowich, Anthony Howley and John Gilday were on the job Oct. 30, when they said they saw a man push a woman down and pull down her underwear near 150-24 Northern Blvd.

The trio chased down the attacker and sat on him until cops arrived.

“I am proud that these courageous men stepped in and prevented a potential rape from occurring,” Ferreras said. “It is my hope that their example resonates with all New Yorkers everywhere to help those who are in need.”

The technicians were honored with a proclamation Dec. 10 by Ferreras, Councilmember Peter Koo and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

“It was a big honor. It was very humbling,” said Gilday, 53, of Douglaston.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

Flushing widow pushes for hit-and-run bill


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

The widow of a Flushing man killed last year in a tragic hit-and-run held back tears while she pushed for a bill to protect pedestrians.

“I’m very heartbroken, very angry,” said Taysha Dominguez. “There are no words to describe the pain and the suffering that my family is currently going through at this moment.”

Her husband, Dante Dominguez, was struck by a car while crossing 41st Avenue and Union Street on foot in Flushing last November. The driver, who is still unknown, fled and left the father of three to die, officials said. He was 45.

“Even when I step on someone’s foot, I hold accountability. I say that I’m sorry to that person,” said the widow, 30. “This person continued driving, didn’t have the heart to help save that victim. To leave the scene — that’s heartless. That is what has torn me apart.”

Lawmakers and Dante’s family returned to the scene of the crime last week to urge the City Council to pass a bill which would require more police action and the installation of nearly 200 red light cameras.

“We don’t want her husband to have died in vain,” said Councilmember Peter Koo.

The legislation would require the NYPD to make annual reports to the City Council on hit-and-runs that result in death or severe injury, detailing all actions taken to determine culprits. The city’s police department would also have to collect video surveillance from cameras near the crime scene.

The bill also calls for the city to install red light cameras in more than 150 intersections and create a tax credit for property owners who install their own devices.

Sources said the bill will soon be introduced in the City Council.

“Hit-and-runs are too frequent in Queens, and we need to do everything we can to make sure the police have the resources they need to find the drivers responsible for them,” said Councilmember Leroy Comrie.

Inspector Brian Maguire of the 109th Precinct urged anyone with information on Dante’s death to anonymously help by calling 1-800-577-TIPS.

“Getting into an accident is not a crime,” the precinct’s commanding officer said. “It’s only a crime when you flee the scene.”

Dominguez said her husband was a hardworking artist who toiled through long shifts to make ends meet. She added that their family is still reeling from the loss.

“I can’t say we’re okay when we’re really not,” said Dominguez. “We have no sense of closure. We’re hurt and we’re torn. There is not enough justice being done to find out who did this.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Public Advocate candidate Reshma Saujani kicks off Queens campaign


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Reshma for New York

New York City Public Advocate candidate Reshma Saujani kicked off her Queens campaign on the steps of Flushing Town Hall.

Saujani was joined by Councilmember Peter Koo as she launched a five-day tour of the boroughs. Of her campaign, Saujani said she wanted to speak for all New Yorkers and ensure everyone had fair opportunities.

“We have a responsibility to make sure that all New Yorkers who work hard and play by the rules have access to the American Dream,” she said. “We need a voice loud enough to speak for everyone, driving the change we need to create good-paying jobs, give our kids the education they need for the jobs of today and tomorrow, and make sure all New Yorkers have access to safe, affordable housing.”

Saujani is running in a five-way race against State Senator Daniel Squadron, Councilmember Letitia James, Cathy Guerriero and schools advocate Noah Gotbaum.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Queens businesses fear 7 subway suspension may hurt profits


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

File photo

Once more, western Queens business owners could potentially say goodbye to a profitable winter.

The No. 7 line weekend service between Queens and Manhattan is being suspended until the end of March, and many area business owners fear that this will affect the influx of customers they usually get.

The award-winning Chocolate Factory Theater in Long Island City is just one of the many organizations expecting a severe blow to their business this season.

“We [will be] unable to commission work, to present work,” said Sheila Lewandowski of the theater company. “If our audience can’t get here, what are we saying to our artists?”

The Chocolate Factory planned four shows for the coming winter months, and is expecting around 5,000 people to attend. They have artists coming in from all over the world, and, according to Lewandowski, artists who have been preparing for these shows for years.

“The No. 7 train is part of the ticket,” said Lewandowski, who fears that without the subway line, artists will have a difficult time getting to the theater, or that the number of attendees will significantly decrease.

Lewandowski also said that, had they been informed of the closures a month or two ago, shows could have been rescheduled. But, with the two weeks’ notice that the MTA gave, nothing can be done.

“Millions of people are disadvantaged and inconvenienced,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. “The people of Queens are being disrespected.”

Until March 25, the MTA will be working on tunnel, signal and track maintenance in the Steinway Tunnel, which connects Queens to Manhattan, and will replace tracks between the Court Square and Queensboro Plaza stations.

Van Bramer held a press conference on Friday, December 28, the day that marked the beginning of the closures, in front of the bustling Vernon Boulevard–Jackson Avenue train stop. He was joined by fellow Councilmember Peter Koo and area business owners, all protesting the MTA changes.

“If I seem a little angry, I am,” said Van Bramer. “Year after year this is too much to bear.”

In 2010, the No. 7 line was suspended for 12 weekends, and again for five weekends this past fall.

On December 8, Community Board 2 received a letter from the MTA, detailing the weekend closures. According to Van Bramer, there was no discussion or opportunity for input, simply a: “this is how it is, so deal with it.”

Going forward, the councilmember intends to work with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and the rest of the Council to urge the MTA to change course, and also advises that residents sign an online petition, on the City Council website, and also protest via social media.

For alternate service, straphangers can use the E, F, N and Q lines. On Saturdays and Sundays from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., the Q will be extended to Astoria-Ditmars Boulevard. Additionally, free shuttle buses will operate between the Vernon Boulevard-Jackson Avenue and Queensboro Plaza stations during those weekends.

-With additional reporting by Cristabelle Tumola