Tag Archives: Peter Vallone Jr.

Astoria lawyer John Ciafone enters 22nd Council District race


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

John J. Ciafone has announced he will be running to fill Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr.’s spot in the 22nd Council District.

“I’m running for Council in the 22nd District because our community is facing serious problems,” said Ciafone. “Until we change these issues, our community will continue to suffer and we will lose our friends, businesses, neighbors and families to other cities.”

Ciafone has been a lawyer based on Steinway Street for the past two decades. The Astoria native was the former president and treasurer of Community School Board 30. He currently serves as the executive officer of the Aldo’s Democratic Club and is counsel to the New York State Fraternal Order of Police Big Apple Lodge.

Ciafone will run against Democrats Tony Meloni, the founder and executive director of the New York Anti-Crime Agency and Costa Constantinides, deputy chief of staff for Councilmember James Gennaro.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Wednesday: Mostly cloudy with a chance of a thunderstorm and a chance of rain in the afternoon. High of 77. Winds from the West at 5 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 50%. Wednesday night: Overcast with thunderstorms and rain showers, then a chance of rain after midnight. Fog overnight. Low of 52. Winds from the SE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 60% with rainfall amounts near 0.3 in. possible.

EVENT OF THE DAY: The Big Thing

At the Laughing Devil Comedy Club , get the New York area’s  freshest jokes by comedians vying to be the next big thing and become a club regular. The show also features some special guest headliners. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Council Speaker Christine Quinn blasts Councilman Dan Halloran’s ‘arrogance’

City Councilman Dan Halloran was a no-show Tuesday for the first council meeting since he was pinched by the feds last week, as Speaker Christine Quinn eviscerated him for sending out a “stupid” press release. Read more: New York Daily News

New York City councilman proposes crackdown on costumed characters

New York City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. introduced legislation Tuesday that would either ban or introduce tight regulations on costumed characters in New York City. Read more: CBS New York

Temptress who swindled elderly Queens man arrested after 6 years on lam

A temptress on the lam for six years after she was convicted of milking an elderly Queens man out of his life savings has been busted halfway across the country, authorities said Tuesday. Read more: New York Daily News

Quinn suffers small drop poll shows, but still outpaces opponents

A couple of weeks of constant battering cost City Council Speaker Christine Quinn a few points in the latest mayoral poll. Read more: New York Post

FEMA: Building a sea wall would change home elevation requirements

The community board in the Rockaways announced Tuesday that the city will spend $4 million on each of the five new lifeguard stands planned for this summer and $2 million on each of two public bathrooms to be built on Rockaway Beach. Read more: NY1

Obama budget targets millionaires, replaces sequester cuts

The White House on Wednesday proposed a budget that sharply trims the U.S. deficit over three years by forcing millionaires to pay more in taxes and enacting spending cuts that replace the “sequester” reductions that went into place last month. Read more: Reuters

Borough President candidates making the rounds


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

BP candidates

BY ANTHONY O’REILLY

Borough President candidates are blazing through Queens, participating in forums and allowing the community to hear their positions.

The six Democrats hoping to replace current Borough President Helen Marshall most recently gathered at the Hollis Hills Jewish Center in Fresh Meadows and attended the Ridgewood Democratic Club’s monthly meeting.

State Senators Tony Avella and Jose Peralta joined City Councilmembers Peter Vallone Jr. and Leroy Comrie, former Assembly and Councilmember Melinda Katz and former Deputy Borough President Barry Grodenchik to speak to members of several Democratic clubs across Queens.

In Fresh Meadows, discussion of mayoral control of the Board of Education (BOE) dominated the forum.
Grodenchik said he has mixed feelings towards the issue, but he wants to “bring some measure of control back to the boroughs.”

The controversy surrounding development of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park was also heavily debated. Peralta said he in favor of the proposed Major League Soccer (MLS) stadium, but would ensure that the park space used not only has to be replaced, but improved.

“It has to be better,” he said, calling soccer “the sport of the world.”

Despite his support for the stadium, he is opposed to the proposed plans for a shopping mall and an expansion of the United States Tennis Association (USTA) center.

Vallone said that he wanted to eliminate overexpansion in the park and bring it to areas in the borough that are “yearning for that kind of development.”

Avella, however, said he is the only candidate that is steadfastly against all three proposals for development.

All of the candidates will continue to campaign and participate in forums across Queens until election day on

Tuesday, November 5. The next forum will be held at St. John’s University on Friday, April 12.

 

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Borough president candidates pick up endorsements


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

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As the candidates start to get out and campaign, the race is heating up for the next Queens borough president.

Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., who has led in terms of fundraising since mid-2012, was the most recent candidate to officially kick off his campaign with an event on Monday, March 11 in his native Astoria. Norman Seabrook, president of the New York City Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association, gave the group’s endorsement at the rally.

Former councilmember and former assemblymember Melinda Katz has picked up the backing of the late former Mayor Ed Koch, and the Rev. Floyd Flake, a former congressmember and current senior pastor of the Greater Allen A. M. E. Cathedral of New York.

“It’s been 20 years,” she said of her relationships and endorsements. “I’ve been extremely fortunate in my life to have made a lot of friends.” As former chair of the Land Use Committee, Katz said she gained considerable experience working with the entire borough, either to preserve neighborhoods or help economic growth in others.

State Senator Jose Peralta, representing mainly Corona, has been an advocate for replenishing portions of his district, particularly developing Willets Point and cleaning up Roosevelt Avenue. Union 32 BJ SEIU endorsed Peralta’s candidacy on Friday, March 8.

“No one fights harder for working families and immigrant New Yorkers than SEIU 32BJ, and I am thrilled that they have joined our campaign,” Peralta said. “The thousands of 32BJ members who live in Queens know that we need new leadership to make sure that every child receives a great public school education, that families have a chance to succeed no matter where they come from, and that no neighborhood or borough is left behind when it comes to city services and public safety.”

Former Deputy Borough President Barry Grodenchik has been backed by Queens-based Local 3 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. “It is an honor to have the support of Local 3, and the thousands of Queens residents that belong to this great union,” Grodenchik said. “Together we’re going to bring hands on, visible leadership, and continue the fight to bring good paying jobs to Queens.”

Representatives for Councilmember Leroy Comrie and State Senator Tony Avella were contacted regarding their races, but did not return calls as of press time.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Monday: Partly cloudy in the morning, then clear. High of 48. Winds from the North at 5 to 15 mph. Monday Night: Partly cloudy. Low of 36. Winds from the NNE at 5 to 10 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: RGB by Satoshi Tsuchiyama

Inspired by his personal experience with the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, artist Tsuchiyama created two multimedia works, RGB and The Flow and the Geometry. His art is a hybrid of photography, video and installation that explores the notion of uncanny and absurdity in the urban dystopian situation. His solo exhibition will last till March 6 at Resobox in Long Island City. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Person struck at Queens subway station

A person was struck by a subway car in Woodside, Queens on Monday morning. Read more: Fox New York

New poll shows Vallone ahead in crowded field of Queens Borough President candidates

City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. is pulling ahead of the pack of Queens Borough President candidates, according to a new poll obtained by the Daily News. Read more: New York Daily News

Man stabbed on subway; at least 3 in custody

A man is in the hospital and at least three people are in custody after a stabbing on the subway. Read more: ABC New York

Trial set to begin in “Cannibal Cop” case

An NYPD officer accused of plotting to cook and eat women is going on trial. Read more: NBC News

“Argo” storms to Oscar victory on night of surprises

“Argo” stormed to Best Picture victory at the Oscars on Sunday on a night of surprises that ended in disappointment for frontrunner “Lincoln” and handed the most overall wins – four – to “Life of Pi.” Read more: Reuters

Pope changes conclave rules; Cardinals can move date

Pope Benedict XVI has changed the rules of the conclave that will elect his successor, allowing cardinals to move up the start date if all of them arrive in Rome before the usual 15-day transition between pontificates. Read more: ABC New York

 

City Council candidate Austin Shafran gains second union endorsement


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File photo

Austin Shafran has gained the endorsement of UFCW Local 1500 in his bid for City Council.

“This is a high-priority council race for our members, and we know that Austin is the candidate who will fight the hardest to strengthen and expand the middle class,” said Bruce Both, president of the state’s grocery workers union.

Shafran, the 32-year-old former mainstay in the Cuomo administration, is in a four-way Democratic primary race to unseat incumbent Republican Dan Halloran in the 19th District. He was the vice president of public affairs for the governor’s Empire State Development until he resigned to run for office.

“I am deeply humbled and honored to have the endorsement of a union whose members and leader have done so much for working families,” Shafran said. “Retail is one of the fastest-growing sectors of our local economy, and I plan to work closely with Local 1500 to improve the quality and quantity of retail jobs that are the backbone of a strong middle-class-first economy.”

Shafran also recently gained the support of the Teamsters Joint Council 16.

He will take on Democratic State Committee Chair Matthew Silverstein, former Assemblymember John Duane and attorney Paul Vallone — the son of former City Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr. and brother of Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr.

The district extends from College Point to the borders of Nassau County.

 

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Cuomo administration mainstay resigns to run for Queens City Council seat


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Austin Shafran

A former mainstay in the Cuomo administration has officially announced his intent to run for City Council.

Austin Shafran, 32, resigned from his post as vice president of public affairs for Empire State Development (ESD) on January 18 to enter what is now a four-way Democratic primary race for the 19th District.

“I’ve played a leading role in Governor Cuomo’s efforts to make government work better, cost less and produce more for taxpayers,” Shafran said of his ESD job, “and now I want to put that same record of results to work for the communities I grew up in.”

He will take on Democratic State Committee Chair Matthew Silverstein, former Assemblymember John Duane and attorney Paul Vallone — the son of former City Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr. and brother of Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr.

The primary winner will likely face off with incumbent Councilmember Dan Halloran in the November election if no other Republican contenders surface.

Shafran is the Democratic leader in the 25th Assembly District. The ESD’s mouthpiece for nearly two years, he also served as senior advisor to the agency’s head, Kenneth Adams. Prior, he was a community liaison for former Congressmember Gary Ackerman and communications director for then-Councilmember David Weprin.

“Working with Congressman Ackerman and Governor Cuomo, I’ve developed the experience and the clear vision to deliver better schools and safer streets and an economy that works for middle class families,” Shafran said. “Those are things that we’ve been lacking in these communities for the past four years. We can do better.”

The district extends from College Point to the borders of Nassau County.

 

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What City Council members wish for their constituents in 2013


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

2013

The Queens Courier asked the City Council what they wish for their constituents in 2013. Here are some of the responses:

Speaker Christine Quinn: To help New Yorkers still reeling from Sandy recover fully and quickly, & rebuild New York City to protect New Yorkers from the impact of climate change.

Daniel Dromm: To see comprehensive immigration reform including the Uniting American Families Act (for families headed by same sex couples) and the Dream Act passed by Congress in 2013.

Mark Weprin: My New Year’s wish for my constituents is that a bipartisan spirit will appear in Washington, leading to fiscal sanity and sensible gun laws.

James Gennaro: They should have good health, the comfort and peace of a strong faith, abiding happiness, freedom from want and love and compassion for others.

Jimmy Van Bramer: I wish for my constituents a healthy and happy year full of joy and with far fewer tragedies. I want more understanding and appreciation of our uniqueness as people, a safer world at home and abroad.

Peter Vallone Jr.: I hope for the Queensboro Bridge back, and I hope other boroughs keep their hands off of our stuff.

Eric Ulrich: Health, happiness, and prosperity in the new year and a return to normalcy for those affected by Sandy.

Karen Koslowitz: I wish all a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. I am hoping that the year 2013 brings new opportunities, friendships and successes for all.

Dan Halloran: I wish my constituents a New Year full of peace, prosperity and a renewed sense of pride in our neighborhoods, as we continue to preserve our community’s character.

Leroy Comrie: I hope that we have a healthy, happy, prosperous, and protective new year. Also that people stay charitable, that we can continue to look out for each other and be supportive of those in need.

 

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Potentials eye Vallone’s seat in 2013


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

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With Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr.’s eyes on a larger prize, two Astoria natives have their sights set on his seat.

Democrat Tony Meloni, the founder and executive director of the New York Anti-Crime Agency, has already announced his intent to run for office in the 22nd Council District in 2013, while Costa Constantinides, who is serving as the deputy chief of staff for Councilmember James Gennaro, is “strongly considering” entering the race – now that Vallone is term-limited and cannot seek re-election.

Vallone says he is seriously mulling over a run for borough president, and that he has already begun raising money and discussing the possibility with officials throughout Queens. The councilmember went on to say he has yet to endorse a candidate to replace him, and will make that decision at a later time.

“I’ve worked with Tony for many years on Astoria issues, especially as they relate to public safety,” Vallone said. “He’s been working in the Astoria neighborhood for decades. I think he’s going to make a very formidable candidate. Costa has not announced, but I’ve been to a few of his fundraisers and said good things about him.”

Meloni plans to run on a platform focused on aiding small businesses, improving air quality and increasing public safety – particularly preventing another rash of gropings and sexual assaults, which have recently plagued Astoria. “Between the New York Anti-Crime Agency, the Immigration Advocacy Services, Community Board 1 and a large number of community organizations, I’ve been involved in the community for 27 years,” said the 56-year-old Meloni. “I wouldn’t be in this if I didn’t think I could win. I think I have a very strong base in our community and neighborhoods. I’ve been fighting for the community for many years, and this position could help me make a bigger difference. I feel I have the pulse of the community, and I know what we need to do in our area to keep it the vibrant and safe community that it is.”

Constantinides, who would also run as a Democrat if he opts to throw his hat in the ring, was previously president of the Queens County Young Democrats and legislative director for Councilmember Darlene Mealy. He is also currently the Democratic leader for 36th Assembly District.

“I’ve been meeting with civic and community leaders, elected officials and union leaders to gauge my support for City Council, and right now I’m getting overwhelming support,” said Constantinides, who claims he has already raised $33,000 through an exploratory campaign committee. “I’m a lifelong Astoria resident, and I love this community. I know what it takes to get things done. I’ve worked in the City Council for almost the last six years. I’ve been Democratic district leader for over three years, and in that time I’ve worked on things like saving the post office on 30th Avenue and making traffic safer for pedestrians on 21st Avenue.”

If he elects to run, Constantinides hopes to improve health care in the area, decrease overcrowding in neighborhood schools and make air quality cleaner.

The 37-year-old believes he could be very successful in the election, but spoke highly of his potential opponent, calling Meloni a “wonderful guy” who he has the “upmost respect for.”

Vallone hosts holiday fair


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. and the East River Development Alliance (ERDA) hosted a holiday fair on December 15, during which over 200 underprivileged children from the western Queens housing development received toys, posed for pictures with Santa Claus, socialized with elves and participated in arts and crafts and other family activities.

“We are so glad to share the holidays with community members in western Queens and to provide gifts courtesy of Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr.,” said Bishop Mitchell Taylor, president and founder of ERDA. “There is no better way to celebrate the end of the year than gathering together with the families that make our community in western Queens so strong.”

ERDA, a Long Island City non-profit organization working to improve public housing neighborhoods across the city, organizes the toy drive each year with the cooperation of a sponsor. When the organization’s sponsor rescinded, Vallone urged the Astoria community to donate to the local cause, using his office as a drop-off location. After numerous generous submissions from the neighborhood, the drive’s goal was exceeded, and the toys were ready for the fair at the Astoria Houses, located at 4-25 Astoria Boulevard.

“The generosity of the people of Astoria never ceases to amaze me,” said Vallone. “In a few short days a simple request to collect toys for some of our kids who needed them most was not only met but exceeded. I want to thank ERDA, Quontic [Bank], and all who participated in our successful toy drive. As we learned from Cindy-Lou Who, Christmas is not about toys, but it’s always nice to see the look of joy on kids’ faces. Astoria is truly blessed.”

 

Community tackles crime, rallies in Astoria


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Crime may never sleep, but the residents of Astoria are planning to put it to bed.

Following a wave of illegal activity that recently rolled through the neighborhood, members of the community and local elected officials united at an anti-crime rally on November 16.

A variety of crimes were discussed at the gathering, held at 21-77 31st Street, including numerous incidents of groping, the most recent of which occurred at Broadway and 31st Street; an attempted rape on 21st Street; the inappropriate touching of a young girl by an unidentified man in the Steinway Library; cases of car vandalism and robbery and three shootings.

“Astoria is one of the best neighborhoods in New York to raise a family, and we will not allow a few deplorable individuals – especially those who prey on women and children – to threaten that,” said Assemblymember Aravella Simotas, who announced that she is introducing legislation to increase sentences for certain sex crimes and close legal loopholes that allow sex offenders to avoid facing serious penalties. “It’s important that we use every resource at our disposal, including passing tougher laws, to send a message that we will not tolerate these types of acts in our community and criminals will be held accountable.”

In an effort to promote cooperation within the community, Senator Michael Gianaris is introducing legislation that expands upon “Good Samaritan” laws, allowing local businesses and non-profits to act as safe havens to individuals in danger without being liable for damages or injuries they incur while doing so.

“We must do everything in our power to combat the recent uncharacteristic crime wave in our community,” Gianaris said. “Protecting small businesses that rush to aid someone in distress will increase the safe havens available to crime victims and make our streets safer.”

New crime-fighting initiatives and techniques were also announced during the rally, including the proposed reinitiating of community patrol groups.

Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., who chairs the Public Safety Committee, hosted a meeting on November 17 to organize a neighborhood watch program – the first of its kind in over 25 years.

The councilmember, who was joined at the meeting by several Astoria anti-crime experts, announced that he will work with the 114th Precinct, the New York Anti-Crime Agency and the 114th Civilian Observation Patrol in creating the watch program. As part of the group, block captains will be established and the districts will be divided into sections.

“Make no mistake our police officers are doing a great job of preventing and fighting crime – but precincts are operating at half strength and need help – that’s where we come in,” said Vallone. “Our neighborhood watch will act as an additional deterrent and crime fighting tool.”

Some residents of Astoria, outraged and saddened by the illegal activity plaguing their neighborhood, appeared confident the community’s involvement would cease the crimes.

“I’m appalled at all of this crime that has taken place recently,” said John Pellitteri, an Astoria resident for 68 years. “This is our community, not the criminals’ community. We have to work hand in hand with the police and assist them in any way we can. We have to show these criminals that they are not welcome in Astoria and their crimes will not be tolerated. I’m glad elected officials are taking the steps necessary to help the people of Astoria, and to discourage anyone from coming into our community with thoughts of hurting people. I definitely feel better now with a community watch, and most of the people I’ve spoken to are happy we are getting started with it.”