Tag Archives: Peter Vallone

Rockaway residents fear losing community’s last hospital


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder.

The Peninsula’s lone hospital is in critical condition.

Rockaway residents fear financial problems at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital will close the last safety net hospital in their community.

“Queens is a healthy borough, but we can’t continue to grow if we continue to lose hospitals,” said Peter Vallone, Jr., city councilmember and borough president candidate.

If St. John’s Episcopal were to close its doors, the nearest hospital, Jamaica Hospital, is more than a 20-minute drive away.

Changes, however, have already been made at St. John’s, which declined to disclose its financial situation to The Courier.

The detox unit has closed and several clinics and nursing homes are being outsourced, according to hospital officials.

Richard Brown, the hospital’s Interim Chief Operating Officer, said the unit’s closure will allow space for “much-needed” medical and surgical beds in the 257-bed building.

Additionally, St. John’s Family Practice, Internal Medicine and Pediatrics clinics have begun collaborative initiatives with the Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Centers.

However, St. John’s is “considering all necessary action, including possible layoffs” to maintain the hospital’s stability.

“We cannot let community healthcare disappear from the Rockaways,” said Bill de Blasio, public advocate, mayoral candidate and a staunch supporter of outer borough hospitals. “We have to stop these free-fall closures that hollow out neighborhood healthcare.”

The hospital board is also exploring merger options with other health systems. The community hopes for a merger with major hospital chain North Shore LIJ, but Brown said no overtures between the two have been made.

 

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Katz campaign raises over $280,000 in quest for Borough Presidency


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

File photo

Melinda Katz is taking a lead in campaign finances for the borough presidency as her campaign announced the former politician has raised more than $280,000 in the last four months.

“I am so appreciative to our hundreds of donors and their support for my candidacy,” Katz said in a statement. “Our fundraising success is a reflection of how well our message is being received among Queens residents.   The campaign, based on improving the lives of all Queens residents by increasing economic opportunities, and striking the proper balance with the needs of a community is resonating.”

The campaign has roughly $250,000 on hand; $40,000 of which can be matched by the city’s match fund, adding an extra $240,000 to her war chest, according to a campaign statement.

Katz, who hasn’t been in office since 2009, nabbed an endorsement from former Mayor Ed Koch last month in the hotly-contested race for Borough Hall.

She faces off against Councilmembers Peter Vallone and Leroy Comrie; State Senators Jose Peralta and Tony Avella; and former Deputy Borough President Barry Grodenchik – who stepped down from his position last month to run.

Vallone is reported to still lead on the fundraising front, having capped out how much he could raise some time ago.

 

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Controversial Astoria power plant to be dismantled


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Poletti1

After powering down several years ago, a controversial power plant is finally going to be dismantled.

Years of litigation, led by Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., ended with the shuttering of operations at the old branch of the Charles Poletti Power Plant on 20th Avenue in Astoria in 2010. The New York Power Authority (NYPA) announced this week that the defunct facility will be torn down beginning in early 2013. Since the closure of the plant almost three years ago, the councilmember and now borough president hopeful has fought diligently for its destruction — a fight, he said, that was not easily won.

“It’s dangerous, it’s an eyesore and they’re finally going to get rid of it,” said Vallone.

A NYPA spokesperson said they agreed to close the Poletti power plant as part of a commitment to improving regional air quality when plant officials applied for a license to build a new state-of-the-art 500-MW Combined Cycle Project, fueled by clean natural gas. Since 2010, NYPA has been planning the engineering needed for dismantling the Poletti plant and in September 2012 awarded a $21 million contract for its destruction.

The spokesperson added that the plant has never been a safety hazard.

According to Vallone, much of his push to have the plant destroyed stemmed from fear that operations could restart at the facility, as is common practice at many previously shut down plants. While he said Poletti does not pose the risk of exploding, it once ranked as the plant with the worst emissions record of any in the state. He also mentioned a study that claimed the plant’s emissions were worse than those of plants in all other New York City boroughs combined.

“The people of Western Queens can finally breathe a fresh sigh of relief knowing the old Poletti plant will be torn down and never create a dark cloud over their heads again,” said Vallone.

Senator Michael Gianaris, who has also been involved in the demise of the plant, said western Queens residents are rejoicing over the destruction of the city’s biggest polluter.

“Many of us remember all too well the toxic, dirty air emitted by the plant that plagued our neighborhood for decades, and it was thanks to our hard work that the plant finally closed,” said Gianaris. “As we prepare to ring in the new year, I look forward to celebrating the much-awaited deconstruction of this power plant as well as continuing our work to make western Queens a green neighborhood whose residents are healthy and air is clean.”

Astoria is home to five of the city’s major power plants, estimated by Vallone to produce nearly 80 percent of the city’s power supply.

Vallone officially announces borough president bid


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Photo by Alex DiBlasi

Councilmember Peter Vallone’s holiday surprise wasn’t all that surprising.

Vallone announced his bid for Queens borough president at his father’s annual holiday party on Tuesday, December 11, surrounded by friends and family. Throughout the year, rumors have swirled about the Astoria councilmember’s potential run for Borough President Helen Marshall’s soon-to-be-empty seat. However, Vallone never officially stated until the party that he intended to run for the borough presidency.

“I’ve been considering [running] for a long time now. I’ve been out there fighting for the borough I love for a long time. I’ve got a track record of doing that. I understand what Queens is about. I’m a product of Queens. I’m going to spend the rest of my life in Queens. I’d like to work with all of you to continue to make Queens even better and better,” Vallone said.

So far, Vallone has raised roughly $1.5 million for his borough president campaign — significantly higher than any other potential candidate.

Former Councilmember and Assemblymember Melinda Katz, Deputy Borough President Barry Grodenchik, State Senator Jose Peralta and State Senator Tony Avella have already announced their intentions to run for Marshall’s seat. Councilmember Leroy Comrie, a favorite of the Queens County Democratic Party, is rumored to be running for BP as well.

Vallone said his business background separated him in the crowded field.

“I understand Queens. I’ve spent my whole life here — raised my family here. I still live around the corner from my dad,” he said. “The law firm has been there since 1932. Queens is made up of small business owners like the people in this room, and I am the only candidate with any business experience.”

Electeds rally against relocation of Triumph of Civic Virtue to Brooklyn


| editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

BY CHRISTOPHER BARCA

The city may have won the battle regarding the relocation of the Triumph of Civic Virtue statue to a Brooklyn cemetery, but those opposed to the plan say the fight is not over.

“They’re taking one of the last pieces of fine art in Queens from us,” said Councilmember Peter Vallone. “They might as well put a bag over the statue’s head and put him in the back of a truck.”

The fence-enclosed statue, standing adjacent to Queens Borough Hall in Kew Gardens, has been the topic of bitter dialogue directed toward the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) from Community Board 9 and its constituents since July. At a November 13 public hearing, however, the NYC Design Commission ruled that the statue will be moved in the coming weeks to Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, where the family of Frederick MacMonnies, the statue’s sculptor, is buried.

To make matters worse, Vallone claims that he and other officials, who hosted a rally alongside Community Board 9 at the statue on Saturday, December 8, were kept in the dark about the meeting in order to negate their opposition to the controversial plan.

“It was clearly designed to be secretive,” Vallone said. “An email was sent out, but the message was sent six days after Sandy, when nearly everyone’s email was inaccessible.”

The statue features Hercules standing triumphantly, representing virtue, while two sirens, representing vice and corruption, are trampled underfoot. City politicians like former Congressmember Anthony Weiner have deemed the statue sexist in recent years, but CB9 district manager Mary Ann Carey scoffs at the claim.

“I don’t understand why people give this sculpture a meaning it doesn’t have,” she said. “They aren’t two women, they’re just two sirens. They have tails. I don’t know any women who have tails.”

Whether or not the statue is indeed sexist, the city sees the uprooting of Civic Virtue as a necessary measure.

“The relocation of Civic Virtue by Frederick MacMonnies to Green-Wood is part of a public-private initiative to ensure the long-term preservation of the sculpture, which will be conserved this spring,” said a spokesperson for the city. “Civic Virtue will remain fully accessible to the public, and we are working on establishing a vibrant, welcoming public space in Queens while the statue is on loan to Green-Wood.”

The statue’s preservation will be paid for by the Brooklyn cemetery, officials said, and no other option were proposed for the restoration.

When the statue is actually moved, the base will remain at its current location, as there is a preliminary plan in place to turn the area into a public sitting plaza. According to a statement from Borough President Helen Marshall, seeing the statue go is bittersweet, but Queens residents should still benefit from the Civic Virtue site, even if the statue resides elsewhere.

“I’m glad that the statue will be restored and we’ll work to see that the base of the statue and the area around it will be transformed into a public sitting area with benches and landscaping,” Marshall said. “I would like the area to pay tribute to outstanding women who have made significant contributions to our borough and city.”

Queens Morning Roundup


| brennison@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Thursday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 48. West wind 9 to 13 mph. Thursday night: Mostly clear, with a low around 37. West wind 7 to 10 mph.

EVENT of the DAY: Borough’s Largest Holiday Tree Lighting

Borough’s Largest Holiday Tree Lighting at Resorts World at 5 pm. A special Christmas choir and Santa Claus will be on hand. Attendees can help light the tree. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Winning Powerball tickets sold in Arizona and Missouri; jackpot nearly $580M

People who bought Powerball tickets in Arizona and Missouri are going to wake up rich today after matching the six numbers for last night’s drawing. Winning Powerball tickets were sold in those two states, lottery officials reported this morning. Read more: NY Post

Rockaway residents, still without power, are coming into the light thanks to solar-panneled trucks

Many Rockaway residents, still without power, are coming into the light thanks to the solar-panneled trucks that have rolled into their storm-savaged communities. Solar energy could play an important role in helping to fuel the recovery of the Rockaways, about a third of which was still without power on Wednesday, LIPA officials said. Read more: Daily News

MTA Source: Direct subway service to return to Rockaways in mid-2013

Expect to wait until summer for the Rockaways commute to return to normal. Hurricane Sandy almost totally destroyed the A train tracks in Broad Channel, which connect the peninsula to the rest of the city. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority now buses people from Howard Beach to the Far Rockaways and back. Read more: NY1

Queensmamas.com network steps in to help Hurricane Sandy victims

When Superstorm Sandy hit, Leni Calas and members of her Queens Mamas network went into overdrive collecting donations and answering calls from people in need. But Calas, who started the successful website Queensmamas.com, soon found herself more involved than she ever imagined. Read more: Daily News

Lindsay Lohan arrested for fighting at NYC nightclub: police

Lindsay Lohan is in hot water again. The troubled starlet, 26, was arrested early this morning after getting into a fight at a New York City nightclub, police told The Post. Read more: NY Post

Councilman Peter Vallone writes letter urging deportation of Czech animal abuser

City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. is launching a letter-writing campaign to get a convicted animal abuser booted out of the country. Milan Rysa, 32, who threw his 50-pound pooch out of his Astoria apartment window last year, served time in jail and now faces deportation to the Czech Republic. Read more: Daily News

Avella announces borough president run


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Tony Avella

A northeast Queens legislator has joined the large circle of Democrats vying for next year’s borough presidency.

State Senator Tony Avella, 61, announced he will run to replace outgoing Borough President Helen Marshall.

“I think Queens needs a voice, and I don’t think we’ve had that,” said Avella, who won re-election to his Senate seat earlier this month. “The office of the borough president could be much more involved in handling the borough-wide issues. I just think we could do a much better job.”

The former two-term city councilmember said he is “continually frustrated” at unhandled problems in Queens, including tree maintenance, curb replacement and school issues.

Superstorm Sandy, Avella said, could have also been less devastating if the borough leader fought for resources that instead went to other parts of the city.

“It runs the gamut,” he said. “What really made the decision for me was the lack of preparation and response to Queens after the hurricane. I thought the office of the borough president could have been much more visible and much more active.”

Other big name Democratic candidates who have announced their intent to vie for the seat include Councilmember Leroy Comrie, State Senator José Peralta and former legislator Melinda Katz.

Councilmember Peter Vallone and Deputy Queens Borough President Barry Grodenchik are also rumored to be eyeing the position.

“I think I have widespread name recognition throughout the borough,” Avella said. “I think I take a much more hands-on approach, which I think is really necessary.”

Avella said he would seek an endorsement from the Queens County Democratic Committee but would run regardless of the party’s support.

Vallone ready to run next year


| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Councilmember Peter Vallone’s name will appear on a ballot next year, that much is sure.

“I cannot imagine not running,” the soon-to-be-term-limited councilmember said during a recent sit down at The Queens Courier’s offices with reporters and editors. Which race Vallone will jump into remains unclear.

Most speculation surrounding the Astoria politician regards his expected entrance into the borough president race, a candidacy he is not yet ready to declare.

“There are a couple of wide open fields out there like public advocate that don’t even have a Queens candidate in it,” Vallone said. “One of the reasons I haven’t announced is because there are a lot of opportunities out there. We’ll see soon when I announce.”

Vallone formed a new state committee at the beginning of the year that currently has more than $110,000, keeping his options open for any office that becomes available. His borough president war chest contains nearly $1.5 million.

If he were to throw his hat into the borough president ring, which already has former Assembly and Councilmember Melinda Katz and State Senator Jose Peralta, Vallone said he would continue fighting on a borough-wide scale for issues he considers important.

And what does he find to be most important? Public safety.

Vallone has branched out to areas of Queens he doesn’t currently represent on a public safety tour, speaking about why crime is up and what communities can do to stop it. An Astoria neighborhood watch program was recently resurrected by Vallone.

The chair of the council’s Public Safety Committee has been vocal about the need for the police department to continue stop-and-frisk. The controversial practice is the only way — barring federal legislation that closes loopholes — to get guns off the streets before they are used, the lawmaker said.

While he admitted stop-and-frisk is not always done properly – “there are bad cops out there,” he said – and may strain communities with a disparate number of stops, he said most of the tension is generated by “irresponsible elected officials.”

“When you have elected officials who are constantly accusing the entire police department of being racist, when you have elected officials saying that and leading rallies against police, that is going to turn community members against the police,” Vallone said, calling it “slander of the worst kind.”

The councilmember’s staunch support of stop-and-frisk often places him at odds with the more liberal-leaning Democrats on the city council and more in line with Republicans throughout the city.

“I have supporters in every party. And I have a lot of opponents in every party. The radical base of both sides doesn’t like me. The middle likes me,” said Vallone.

Having the support of the middle, the self-proclaimed conservative Democrat would not rule out running on the Republican line if he found himself blocked on the Democratic ticket of whichever office he chooses to run for. He garnered the Conservative line all three times he ran for city council, and was on the Republican line during his 2005 re-election.

“I think in Queens a Republican can have a shot.”

When Vallone decides what race he will enter, he certainly won’t be running for the job he wants most.

“If terms limits weren’t in existence, I would stay [in the city council],” Vallone said. “I wouldn’t even be looking at different offices.”

Melinda Katz kicks off campaign for borough president


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence Cullen

Noting that it was crucial to determine what the common needs of a diverse borough like Queens were, Melinda Katz, former member of the City Council and Assembly, embarked Wednesday, October 10 on a year-long run for the borough president’s office — after incumbent Helen Marshall steps down at the end of 2013 due to term limits.

“It is such an important office in our city,” said Katz as she began her run at Portofino’s in her native Forest Hills. “Queens is a diverse borough, and part of the job of a borough president, I believe, is when to make sure that when you are representing so many different groups, so many ethnic backgrounds, so many religions, so many languages throughout this entire borough, part of your job is to find the common core of what people truly want for their families.

Katz was joined by former colleagues in the Assembly including Assemblymember Jeffrion Aubry and now Congressmember Joseph Crowley. Crowley also heads the Queens Democratic Party — which is not expected to endorse any of the several Democratic potentials for the post in the near future.

Of his former colleague’s record, Crowley said Katz had always been a go-getter, resilient and has many years to add on her already tenured political career.

“She’s a tough cookie,” Crowley said. “You have to be tough in this business, I think, in New York City politics. She is someone I think is well rounded in her Queens tradition. She knows this borough very, very well.”

Katz left the City Council at the end of 2009 after serving two terms representing District 29, which includes Forest Hills and Rego Park. Before that, she served in the Assembly — representing relatively the same neighborhoods — from 1994 to 2001. Her political career began with three years working at Borough Hall under long-time Borough President Claire Schulman. In the meantime, she’s served as a shareholder at Greenberg Traurig, a Manhattan law firm where she specializes in government affairs and land use.

Among potential competition are State Senator Jose Peralta and Councilmember Peter Vallone, who’s term limited out of the chamber at the end of next year. While Peralta has officially announced his candidacy — and has a kick-off planned on October 22 — Vallone says he’s “seriously considering” a run.

And while it’s uncertain when a multi-way primary will take place, Katz said she’s ready for what lies ahead in her quest to lead the borough.

“I feel strong,” she said. “I love government, the majority of my adult career has been in government. It’s always been my wish to be able to do what I can for this borough. It’s going to be a good year.”

Queens Morning Roundup


| brennison@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Thursday: Areas of drizzle before 10 a.m., then a chance of showers between 10 a.m. and noon, then showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm after noon. Areas of fog before 10 a.m. Otherwise, cloudy, with a high near 81. East wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New rainfall amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible. Thursday night: Mostly cloudy, then gradually becoming mostly clear, with a low around 64. Northwest wind around 8 mph.

EVENT of the DAY: Play By Ear

Mime Rob List combines anti-conceptual movement, dance and song to connect to his audience in a direct, modest and intimate way. Play By Ear strives to create a magical event without trickery and to let the work and the moment speak for themselves. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Obama and Romney, in First Debate, Spar Over Fixing the Economy

Mitt Romney on Wednesday accused President Obama of failing to lead the country out of the deepest economic downturn since the Great Depression, using the first presidential debate to invigorate his candidacy by presenting himself as an equal who can solve problems Mr. Obama has been unable to. Read more: NY Times

Endorsements, cash flow in 15th District Senate race

Things are heating up in one of the most contentious state races in Queens this fall. Councilmember Eric Ulrich topped the list of those required to file a 10 Day Post Primary Campaign Disclosure Report with a war chest that boasted six-figures. Read more: Queens Courier

Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey’s fight during ‘American Idol’ auditions got ‘intense,’ says host Ryan Seacrest

Tuesday night’s shrieking smackdown between “American Idol” judges Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey will be great for the aging show, says host Ryan Seacrest. Minaj, a wig-wearing wacko rap superstar and Carey, a notoriously difficult diva, blew their stacks at each other when they disagreed about a contestant during “Idol” audtions in Charlotte, N.C. Read more: Daily News

Gotti at GOP fundraiser whips up interest in Queens state senate race

Aurelio “Tony” Arcabascio may not be a “connected guy,” but his association with a member of the Gambino crime family is leading to unexpected attention in his long-shot bid to unseat incumbent Democratic Queens Senator Michael Gianaris. “From a purely selfish perspective, I thank you and all the press for all the attention you’re finally giving me. But I have been at this since March,” said Arcabascio. Read more: NY1

Bogus ‘no parking’ signs along 31st St. in Astoria linked to film production, Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. charges

Bogus no parking signs popped up along a busy stretch of 31st St. in Astoria on Tuesday, the same day a TV comedy show was slated to begin filming there, prompting a local elected official to question who put up the signs. “There’s no doubt in my mind that the signs belong to them,” said City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), whose office is on the affected street. “We have never seen these signs in the area and one day before filming this happens?” Read more: Daily News

Feds bust spy ring who smuggled ‘cutting-edge’ US technology to Russian military since 2008

A large-scale ring that for years allegedly illegally exported cutting-edge microelectronics through JFK Airport to Russian military and intelligence agencies has been busted up by federal authorities, officials announced today. The 11 defendants charged in an indictment unsealed today “spun an elaborate web of lies to evade the laws that protect our national security,” said Brooklyn US Attorney Loretta Lynch, whose office is prosecuting the case. Read more: NY Post

Katz creates campaign team for Queens borough president run


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

She’s already held two political seats in Queens, and now Melinda Katz is eyeing a third.

Katz, who formerly served as assemblymember and councilmember, confirmed she would be running for borough president next year — throwing her hat into the ring with potentials like Councilmember Peter Vallone.

Katz said she was organizing a campaign team, and hoped to make a formal announcement sometime next week.

She cited her three years working in the borough president’s office as an inspiration for running.

“I know the job very well, and I was proud to serve there for the entire borough for three years,” she said.

A love of Queens and a history of holding public offices was important to her decision in running for the spot, Katz said, noting that she still lives in the Forest Hills home where she grew up.

“I’m bringing up my two boys in my old bedroom,” she said. “Queens has been my home, my family’s home, for generations.”

Katz left politics in 2009 to work at Greenberg Traurig, a law firm where she specializes in several fields including government affairs and zoning. In the assembly, she represented areas of central Queens and would go on to do the same on the council level.

Katz’s partner is radio personality and Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa, with whom she has two children.

Whoever wins the race will succeed incumbent Helen Marshall, who has overseen the borough for three terms. Vallone currently has the biggest war chest for the campaign, boasting that he has raised more than a $1 million for the run.

 

Vallone brothers rescue kids from drowning


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Peter Vallone

A relaxing afternoon at the beach became a dangerously close save when Councilmember Peter Vallone and his younger brothers, Paul and Perry Vallone, rescued two young girls from drowning at a New Jersey beach.

The brothers, who spent their adolescent summers lifeguarding on the same Long Branch coastline, were enjoying the sand and sun on Saturday, July 21. Peter sat in a beach chair reading a newspaper as his brothers waded knee-deep in the rough surf. Lifeguards had closed off swimming at the beach earlier that day due to inclement weather and a treacherous undertow. At 5 p.m., the lifeguards vacated the beach.

Perry and Paul watched a group of six kids walk into the choppy water. They scanned the beach, but the children’s parents were nowhere in sight.

When Perry turned back to check on the children, they were already in trouble.

Two girls, ages eight and 10, were swept out by the rough current, moving quickly towards a rock jetty. Paul and Perry dove in to pull them out as Peter saw what was happening and bolted down the beach towards the water. As the three former lifeguards swam the girls to the shore, their parents noticed what was happening. Once safely on the shore, the girls thanked their saviors repeatedly.

“If not for my brothers, they would have drowned,” said Peter.

Both Peter and Perry said the scenario, even for former lifeguards, was terrifying.

“I have a healthy respect for the ocean,” said Perry, who had saved someone when he was a teenager working as a lifeguard at the same beach. “When there’s anyone in that situation in that kind of water it’s a scary situation.”

Peter said the situation is a nod to beach safety and the importance of obeying lifeguard rules as well as keeping a steady watch over children.

“Don’t take your eyes off your kids,” said Peter. “Do not swim if rough water when there are no lifeguards around. It’s bad enough in calm water.”

Controversial statue may move to Brooklyn


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

A city agency is sneakily planning to restore and move a controversial Queens statue, which has been bashed as sexist by politicians, to what could be its final resting place — a Brooklyn cemetery.

The Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) plans to bury the near century-old Triumph of Civic Virtue statue, which sits near Borough Hall, in the privately-owned Green-Wood Cemetery said Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr.

However, the DCAS did not inform residents or Community Board 9.

“We’re against it,” said CB9 Chair Andrea Crawford. “We believe that we should have been contacted. Whether the officials like the artwork or not, it belongs to the people of Queens.”

After Vallone was informed the about the fate of the 22-foot public artwork, the councilmember wrote letters to DCAS Commissioner Edna Handy to keep the statue where it is.

“The statue used to have a working fountain and kids used to play in it,” Vallone said. “That’s the way it should be now.”

Vallone praised the city for finally trying to restore the piece, which is crumbling, discolored and covered with pigeon droppings, but questioned the process of how the city transfers public property to a private entity.

The city has held firm.

“The city is looking into options that preserve the sculpture and best serve the community,” DCAS said.

The statue, which was originally completed in 1922, was designed by renowned New York sculptor Frederick MacMonnies and placed in front of City Hall.

It features a bare Hercules, who represents virtue, standing firm as mythical sirens, which symbolize vice and corruption, curl around his legs.

The artwork was given to Queens in 1941, to commemorate the opening of Queens Borough Hall, and because then Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia couldn’t tolerate seeing a “naked man” outside City Hall every day, according to Vallone.

A few years ago, then Congressmember Anthony Weiner and Councilmember Julissa Ferreras viciously attacked the statue, saying that it degrades women because the Sirens embody feminism.

“As chair of the Women’s Issues Committee, I felt that [way] because you see this huge man stepping on two women,” Ferreras said. “I’m glad that it’s leaving Queens. It’s a great location in the cemetery.”

Weiner placed the statue on craigslist for sale, with shipping not included, and said the proceeds would go to benefit the city.

However, since then, officials from CB9 have fought to keep it, and Vallone has joined the battle to defend the statue of the heroic demi-god.

“They want it moved, because it’s sexist,” Vallone said. “I don’t agree with that at all. Hercules represents virtue and the sirens represents vice and corruption. And we need more of that [virtue] in government today.”

The family of MacMonnies is going to pay for the statue to be restored and transported to Green-Wood, where the sculptor’s family members are buried, but not MacMonnies himself.

“Green-Wood Cemetery has offered to be the permanent home for Civic Virtue,” Richard J. Moylan, president, said. “While we have had discussions with city officials, nothing has been confirmed at this point in time.”

Borough President Helen Marshall, another public official known to have found the statue distasteful, has now said she is disappointed it won’t be returned to Queens and talked about the future of the site in Kew Gardens.

“Informal discussions have already taken place about the future of the site,” Marshall said. “It is my desire and my wish to create a public plaza and sitting area that will honor a woman or women from Queens.”

 

Vallone: Don’t name landmarks for the living


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. wants to give the death knell to renaming landmarks after individuals that are still alive.

The Astoria councilmember made waves recently when he announced he would draft legislation banning the renaming of city property after living persons.

That honor, Vallone said, should be reserved for people who have perished and not used to curry favor.

“When city property is renamed after a living person there is the possibility that it was done for an endorsement or contribution or because the person was powerful,” Vallone said.

Vallone adamantly opposed renaming the Queensboro Bridge after Ed Koch, but said he’s disappointed the former mayor got caught up in the maelstrom.

Street co-namings is another area that has gotten out of hand, said Vallone.

Vallone’s father, former Council Speaker Peter Vallone, Sr., neatly fits the category the councilmember believes should wait until they are departed for their name to grace city property.

“I think my father would deserve some sort of honor, but if it’s city property it would have to wait until after he’s deceased,” Vallone said. “And that’s not something I even want to think about.”

Wave of crimes hit Queens with heat wave


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

In a week filled with shootings throughout the city, Queens did not remain bulletproof.

Between July 4 and July 7, the borough had four deaths, one man critically wounded and an MTA cop suffering a sight-threatening injury.

Councilmember Peter Vallone, who chairs the Public Safety Committee, said this spike in citywide crime comes from several factors.

“It’s a pretty simple equation: fewer cops plus more criminals equals more crime,” he said.

Because of budget cuts, Vallone said, the NYPD has fewer cops covering more crimes. He also mentioned the state’s repeal of the Rockefeller era drug laws. These factors — along with soaring temperatures — were causing a higher-than-normal spike in crimes, he said.

On early Saturday, July 7, three men were fatally shot, and a fourth wounded, in Jamaica. Police said were two shooters — one of whom fired 63 rounds from an AK-47. This was one of several shootings or stabbings to take place over what was considered the Fourth of July weekend. At deadline, police said there still had been no arrests and the investigation was ongoing.

It was reported that the Jeep Grand Cherokee the men occupied was double parked as it dropped a friend off. The men were followed, several newspapers reported, after one had reportedly given a look to a woman at a Brooklyn night club.

Vallone said it was rare to see an AK-47 being used, and attributed it to the federal government not cracking down on gun laws. The three-term councilmember said he’d already set forth a resolution to get rid of what he called loopholes in purchasing guns, such as background checks not required at gun shows or online through sites like Craigslist.

A few days earlier, Edgar Owens — who had a history of attacking cops — came at MTA officer John Barnett at the Jamaica LIRR station on the morning of July 4. Owens stabbed Barnett, who has served as an MTA cop for almost 13 years, in the left eye. Had the stab been an inch deeper, an MTA spokesperson said, the knife would have hit his brain.

Despite the injury, Barnett was still able draw his weapon and fire four shots at the attacker, hitting him in the chest, jaw and hip, according to an MTA press release.

Barnett was released from the hospital the following day to the applause of fellow officers. An MTA spokesperson said there has not been any prognosis as to his eye. And though he is due for reconstructive surgery, it is unclear yet if he will regain his sight.