Tag Archives: Public Advocate Bill de Blasio

Poll: De Blasio surpasses 40 percent needed to avoid runoff


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Instagram/de Blasio NYC

The Democratic nominee for mayor could be decided by next week according a new Quinnipiac University poll.

With 43 percent of likely Democratic voters saying they would pick Public Advocate Bill de Blasio to head the city, he surpasses the 40 percent needed to avoid a runoff.

The survey results, released Tuesday, show former City Comptroller Bill Thompson with 20 percent, followed by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn with 18 percent, former Congressmember Anthony Weiner with 7 percent , 18 percent, City Comptroller John Liu with 4 percent, former Councilmember Sal Albanese with 1 percent and 8 percent undecided.

De Blasio has been the front-runner since an August 13 Quinnipiac poll, and surged ahead to 36 percent in an August 28 survey.

Previously, Quinn had been the leader in the mayoral race, but has fallen to third place since last week’s poll.

“Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s collapse could be part of a seeming New York tradition of throwing female candidates under the bandwagon wheels. Well-known women such as Carol Bellamy, Mary Codd and Ruth Messinger all came up short,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

In the September 3 poll, women likely Democratic primary voters went 44 percent for de Blasio, 19 percent for Thompson and 18 percent for Quinn. Male voters went 41 percent for de Blasio, 20 percent for Thompson and 18 percent for Quinn.

Though the poll showed a runoff may not be necessary, in that situation, de Blasio would win over Quinn 66 to 25 percent and Thompson 56 to 36 percent. In a Thompson-Quinn runoff, Thompson would lead over Quinn 59 to 33 percent.

 

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De Blasio surges ahead in latest mayoral race poll


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

After taking over as the front-runner earlier this month, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio now has a double-digit lead over his mayoral primary opponents, according to the latest Quinnipiac University poll.

In the August 28 survey, 36 percent of likely Democratic voters said they would vote for de Blasio.

That number is close to the 40 percent needed to avoid a runoff. If the September 10 primary winner does not reach that percentage, the top two vote-getters will face each other in an October 1 election.

Following de Blasio in the poll was City Council Speaker Christine Quinn with 21 percent, former City Comptroller William Thompson with 20 percent, former Congressmember Anthony Weiner with 8 percent, City Comptroller John Liu with 6 percent, former Councilmember Sal Albanese with1 percent and 8 percent undecided.

The poll also showed that de Blasio would win over Quinn and Thompson in a runoff by a healthy margin. In that situation, he would lead Quinn 59 to 30 percent and Thompson 52 to 36 percent.

 

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Man arrested in alleged interracial attack on Long Island City couple


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com


An interracial couple was attacked after leaving a Long Island City restaurant by a group of men who began yelling racial and homophobic insults at them, according to reports.

On Saturday, August 17 at 1:45 a.m. Jacob James-Vogel, 37, and his wife Billie, 40, were assaulted in front of 47-20 Center Boulevard, said police.

According to published reports, the couple was leaving Shi restaurant with a gay friend after celebrating Billie’s birthday when they were approached by a group of men who began yelling homophobic and racial slurs. Both Jacob and his wife received injuries from an altercation during the attack.

“Reports of a possible hate crime on Center Boulevard in Long Island City are deeply disturbing,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. “There is no place for hatred in our City and I condemn this attack and all others in the strongest possible terms.”

Van Bramer also said he has made sure the hate crimes unit is  investigating to figure out if the attack was motivated by hate. He is working with the the Anti-Violence Project to monitor the case and lead the community’s response against all bias related attacks.

“These attacks are hateful, ugly and un-New York,” said mayoral candidate and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. “We won’t let racism take hold where we’ve fought so hard to stamp it out. Whatever has spurred on these acts of violence, we’ll protect our people. New Yorkers have a right to live free from violence and fear. We must do more to affirm that right, by bringing more security cameras into the NYPD network so we can find perpetrators more quickly, and by joining police and communities in closer cooperation.”

Shih Lee, owner of Shi restaurant, said he saw a “fight” occurring around the corner of the restaurant and called the police. He is now working together with the police to put together information on what happened Saturday night.

“As a business serving Long Island City and beyond, we have a very diverse clientele and are very involved in the community,” said Lee. “We strongly condemn discrimination in all forms…”

The NYPD has arrested Nikolaos Katsos, 28, and charged him with assault and harassment. The investigation is still ongoing as police look for other suspects.

 

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Weiner falls to fourth place in latest poll


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

After losing his lead in the mayoral race in one poll last week, Anthony Weiner has fallen to fourth place in another survey of voters.

In a Quinnipiac University poll released Monday Weiner received 16 percent of the likely Democratic primary vote, down from 26 percent in a July 24 Quinnipiac survey, where he placed first.

“With six weeks to go, anything can happen, but it looks like former Congressman Anthony Weiner may have sexted himself right out of the race for New York City mayor,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

Pulling ahead of Weiner is City Council Speaker Christine Quinn with 27 percent, followed by Public Advocate Bill de Blasio with 21 percent and former Comptroller Bill Thompson with 20 percent.

Finishing behind Weiner in the poll were Democratic opponents Comptroller John Liu, who garnered 6 percent, and former Councilmember Sal Albanese who had 2 percent.

The poll also found 53 percent of Democratic primary voters believe Weiner should drop out of the race following the former Congressmember’s latest sexting scandal.

If Weiner does withdraw his bid for mayor, the poll showed Quinn would still receive the most votes in the primary, but a runoff would still be likely.

In a runoff between Weiner and Quinn, the poll found Quinn would come out on top. But if the City Council Speaker faced Thompson, then she would lose the primary.

 

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Anthony Weiner loses lead in new poll


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner has lost support among voters after it was revealed he continued sexting following his resignation from Congress, a NBC 4 New York/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll released today found.

In a June poll, 25 percent of registered Democrats said they would vote for Weiner and 20 percent said they would chose City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. The new poll, conducted Wednesday, showed Quinn leading with 25 percent, and 16 percent of voters supporting Weiner.

In a runoff situation, Weiner is virtually tied with Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and former Comptroller Bill Thompson, who both are at 14 percent, according to the new poll results.

The poll also found his favorability rating has dropped from 52 to 30 percent since last month, and 47 percent of registered Democrats believe Weiner doesn’t deserve another chance, down from 59 percent in June.

 

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Pols push for sewer upgrades as Queens homes take on water


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Jim Gallagher

An outdated sewer system is leaving large swathes of Queens vulnerable to serious flooding, according to a pair of elected officials.

“Year after year, Queens residents have been fighting the trauma and financial burden of flood damage to their homes and lives,” said Assemblymember Nily Rozic. “We cannot continue to let our working families weather the storm alone.”

For decades, poor infrastructure in Fresh Meadows has caused basements and garages to flood with sewage during heavy rainstorms, local leaders said.

“If we have a torrential downpour, all the water gets backed up,” said Jim Gallagher, president of the Fresh Meadows Homeowners Civic Association.

He added that sewer pipes in the neighborhood can only handle about an inch and a half of water per hour. Any more rainfall causes water to pour into homes.

The problem also extends to Glendale, where rainy weather shut down the flood-prone Cooper Avenue underpass last weekend.

The closure between 74th Street and 69th Road was due to “construction and the anticipation of flooding,” according to city alerts. It lasted from Friday afternoon to Saturday night.

Last August, three residents were caught in a deluge there. Cars were submerged under several feet of water and emergency responders had to rescue the trio.

A spokesperson for Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley said the city’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) plans to add new catch basins to the underpass, but the department has not committed to major infrastructure improvements.

Thousands in southeast Queens say they have also been suffering from mold spores and flooding since the city took over the water supply in 1996.

According to DEP spokesperson Christopher Gilbride, the city has “invested hundreds of millions of dollars upgrading the sewer system in Queens” over the last decade and will continue to make improvements.

But Rozic and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio last week said they wanted the department to speed up the sewers upgrades and reexamine reimbursement policies for homeowners until then.

“Put simply, severe weather is the new normal,” they wrote in a joint letter to DEP Commissioner Carter Strickland.

The pair urged the department to make flood-prone neighborhoods a priority in capital plans and expedite short-term flood mitigation measures like street landscaping to reduce storm runoff.

“After the wake-up call Sandy delivered, there’s just no excuse for inaction,” de Blasio said. “We can’t keep leaving families high and dry.”

Yolanda Gallagher of Fresh Meadows shows how high flood levels reached in Utopia Parkway homes after a storm last August.

 

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Comptroller John Liu officially launches mayoral bid


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Office of the New York City Comptroller

Comptroller and former Queens councilmember John Liu has formally kicked off his campaign for the mayor of New York City.

“This can’t be the city of the rich and poor, of them and us. New York City needs to be one city. One city where everyone gets a fair wage and a fair shot,” Liu said at the announcement on the steps of City Hall Sunday afternoon.

Earlier in the day, Liu went on a five-borough tour to meet voters.

“With your help, I’ll be a mayor who fights not only for every borough—but for every block in every neighborhood,” he also said during his announcement.

Liu is entering an already crowded Democratic primary that includes Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who launched her campaign last weekend, and Bill Thompson, who served as comptroller before Liu.

The first Asian-American to be elected to a citywide office in New York, Liu has served as comptroller since 2010 and represented Council District 20 from 2002 to 2009.

After immigrating to the U.S. from Taiwan as a young child, Liu attended P.S. 20 in Queens, later graduating from the Bronx High School of Science. He currently lives in Flushing with his wife and son.

Liu mentioned his immigrant roots in his speech today.

“My parents truly believed in that promise–that an immigrant family named Liu could work their way up to become like a family named Kennedy. That’s why they named me John—and if you don’t believe me—feel free to ask my brothers Robert and Edward,” he said.

Though a recent Quinnipiac University poll found that 15 percent of city voters are enthusiastic and 72 percent are comfortable with an Asian candidate, it also found that in a Democratic mayoral primary against Quinn, Thompson and de Blasio, Liu would come in last.

Even before officially entering the race, Liu’s candidacy has faced issues over the arrest of two of his campaign aides last year in connection to illegal contributions towards his mayoral bid.

Liu has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

 

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Quinn officially announces mayoral run


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Official NYC City Council photo by William Alatriste

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is officially running for mayor.

The long-term city rep kicked off her campaign Sunday, becoming the second to do so, after more than a year of speculation.

“I’m about keeping New York City a place for the middle class to live and grow,” she said in a video officially announcing her campaign. “And to help all of those hard working people get into the middle class.”

Along with protecting the middle class, Quinn’s platforming on her record fighting for New Yorkers’ civil rights and a record of passing seven balanced budgets.

The speaker will now begin a “walk-and-talk” tour, in which she’ll walk through city neighborhoods to gauge the needs of a community.

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio kicked off his campaign for mayor last month. The dems can also expect former Comptroller Bill Thompson and incumbent John Lui as opponents.

 

 

 

Quinn increases mayoral lead in new poll


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Official NYC City Council photo by William Alatriste

BY ANTHONY O’REILLY

Christine Quinn’s chances of becoming the next mayor of New York City seem more likely, a new survey finds.

A NY1-Marist poll found that City Council Speaker, who has not formally announced her candidacy, is heavily favored by 37 percent of registered Democrats in the city, up from 23 percent in October,

Quinn gave her last State of the City address as speaker on Tuesday, February 12 where she focused on the middle class.

Former City Comptroller Bill Thompson is far behind in second with 13 percent and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio is currently in third with 12 percent.

On the Republican side, former MTA chairman Joe Lhota holds an advantage with 20 percent of registered Republicans favoring his run for mayor. George McDonald, founder of the Doe Fund, a charity that supports the homeless, is currently in second with eight percent of the vote, followed by billionaire John Catsimatidis with five percent.

 

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Former Councilmember Sal Albanese kicks off mayoral campaign


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Albanese for Mayor 2013

Former Councilmember Sal Albanese, who recently announced he’s running for mayor as an independent Democrat, has high hopes for improving public safety and the city’s education system.

Albanese, who represented mostly Bay Ridge for 14 years, said he was building a campaign based on voter needs and not special interest groups.

“We’re building a grass-roots campaign around the city,” Albanese, 63, told The Courier. “I want to get to City Hall with a broad base of support.”

Albanese spent 11 years as a teacher and said he would partner with education colleges throughout the city and strengthen the student-teacher program if elected mayor.

Albanese said he would hire 3,800 new police .officers for patrols in the outer boroughs where crime might be ignored or under-reported. “If you have nobody on patrol…these things can drive people out of neighborhoods,” he said.

For Queens, Albanese said he would focus on ensuring continued development is done properly, and the borough recovers and rebuilds after Sandy.

All options and effects should be explored before officially jumping on a project such as the proposed Major League Soccer stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. “[It] could really be a positive thing,” he said. “But we have to balance that with the parkland.”

Despite a lengthy term on the council, Albanese has not been in public office for about 15 years and is running in a primary against many Democratic incumbents. Some opponents include: City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Comptroller John Liu, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and former Comptroller Bill Thompson.

On the Republican front:

Less than a week after his announcement, and after a long-expected endorsement, Republican Mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis picked up the backing of the Queens GOP on Friday, February 1.

“John Catsimatidis has the right experience as an independent businessman to lead New York and solve our city’s problems with common sense,” said party chair Phil Ragusa in a statement. The grocery store magnet is one of only a handful of candidates whose career hasn’t been in public service. Upon his endorsement, Catsimatidis noted his father worked as a bus boy at Riccardo’s in Astoria.

“I am very pleased to accept the Queens County Republican Party’s official endorsement,” Catsimatidis said. “My father who came over from the old country when I was just six months of age worked hard for our family and taught me the value of hard work and because he worked hard we never knew we were poor.”

 

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Report: Bloomberg asks Hillary Clinton to run for mayor


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of State

Although she is stepping down as secretary of state at the end of President Obama’s first term, Mayor Michael Bloomberg doesn’t want Hillary Clinton to end her political career.

More specifically, he thinks she should replace him as New York City’s mayor.

According to the New York Times, a few months ago Bloomberg called up the former first lady and urged her to consider a run in the 2013 race.

He reportedly told her she would be “a perfect fit,” but Clinton, who represented New York in the U.S. Senate from 2001 to 2009, said no.

If she had said yes, Clinton would have had to establish New York City residency before she ran.

“He is looking for somebody he can feel comfortable handing the reins over to,” Hank Sheinkopf, a New York City political operative who worked on Mr. Bloomberg’s last campaign, told the Times.

Though the race isn’t lacking likely Democratic candidates, including City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and Comptroller John C. Liu, Bloomberg’s call to Clinton may mean he isn’t confident in any of them, even Quinn, whom he is expected to endorse.

At a press conference today marking the groundbreaking of Hudson Yards, where Bloomberg and Quinn both spoke, he complimented Quinn on the job she’s done leading the city council and said she has made an enormous amount of difference.

With both politicians at the event, Bloomberg’s call to Clinton inevitably came up, but he didn’t deny or confirm the report, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“Why do you think I encouraged Hillary Clinton to run for mayor? I mean, were you — did you hear me say that?,” he said.

When asked if he was unhappy with the current list of likely mayoral candidates, Bloomberg refused to comment and insisted that a media-driven fight between Quinn and himself was never going to happen,  the publication also reported.

But Quinn did discuss Clinton’s qualifications for mayor, stating that the secretary of state would “excel in any position she ever takes.”

New law to help customers contesting costly water bills


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

(Photo: DEP)

Following a record number of disputed water bills, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio introduced legislation today that prevents late fees, liens and foreclosure on home and business owners fighting the charges.

He made the announcement at a Queens Chamber of Commerce small business forum that was held this morning at the Queens Library Flushing branch.

At the event, which highlighted city regulations and small business fines, de Blasio focused on disputed water bills because of the high number of customers that “contested sky-high water bills in 2011 after the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) installed new automated meters,” said de Blasio.

If home and business owners feel they have been unfairly charged, fighting the bill can be a long and difficult process. In the meantime, the DEP will send warnings to customers about escalating late fees and a lien sale, which can directly lead to foreclosure, said de Blasio.

They will often abandon the appeal process so they won’t lose their home or business, he added.

The legislation that de Blasio introduced to the City Council will allow owners to fight their water bills without the threat of late fees or foreclosure.

“In this tough economy, small business is struggling to survive. The last thing they need is to get soaked by the city’s unreasonably high water bills, due to faulty meters,” said councilmember Peter Koo, one of the legislation’s sponsors.

The water bill fines are just an example of the rapidly increasing fines that make it harder for small businesses to succeed, said de Blasio.

The story he’s heard from businesses all over the city, said de Balsio, is that increased fines over the last five years have “made it harder to keep the business going [and] harder to keep employing new people.”

 

 

 

After Queens library assault, call for stricter laws


| editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

BY TERENCE M. CULLEN AND MAGGIE HAYES

Police are looking for a suspect who reportedly sexually assaulted a 10-year-old girl at the Pomonok branch of the Queens Library in the middle of the day.

“There are a lot of little children that are in [the library] by themselves,” said a 14-year-old who lives nearby. “You have nobody watching you. Instead you have people like this walking in, doing things and walking out.”

The suspect, described as a Hispanic man in his early to mid-20s, molested the girl around 4 p.m. on Monday, October 15. Police describe the man as 5’10” and 200 pounds, of light complexion with slick black hair pulled back in a bun.
“In this neighborhood, the library is like a babysitter,” said Patricia S., who lives just up the block from the branch on

Jewel Avenue and also frequents the library. “[Kids] run around through the aisles, no one is looking out for them.”
Police could not release any other details at this time, as the investigation is ongoing.

There are several registered sex offenders living within the vicinity of the library, according to the advocacy website Familywatchdog.us.

The teen noted that she has seen younger children get dropped off at the Pomonok branch by their parents or wait there after school to be picked up.

Joanne King, communications director for Queens Libraries, said the system always tries to ensure that everyone who frequents any branch feels safe and in a good environment.

“Queens Libraries are secure, family-friendly environments for education and enrichment,” she said. “The safety of our patrons and staff is always our number one priority.”

While sex offenders are banned from entering playgrounds, courts have ruled it unconstitutional to ban them completely from public libraries.

Just this summer, a man with a history of sexual-related run-ins with the law was arrested for inappropriately touching two young girls outside of the Flushing Library.

Councilmember Peter Vallone and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio as a result wrote letters to state legislators calling for registered sex offenders to at least be banned from the children’s reading rooms of libraries.

Following the Pomonok assault, de Blasio released a statement calling again for tighter laws against known sex offenders in children’s sections of libraries.

“Today in New York City, a sexual predator could walk into a children’s room at any library, and there’s nothing we can do to stop them,” he said. “We need a tougher law that bans convicted offenders from children’s rooms to deter would-be attackers and empower law enforcement to quickly intervene. We intend to work closely with the State Legislature to protect children in our libraries.”

Macy’s, local pols to meet about moving fireworks back to East River


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

liducks fireworks2

Macy’s executives are planning on meeting with local politicians, including Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., to discuss moving its Fourth of July fireworks back to the East River. The meeting was scheduled for today, but was cancelled, said Vallone.

This July 4 was the fourth year in a row that the Macy’s fireworks display was on the Hudson River, leaving nowhere in Queens to see fireworks on the holiday.

Joining Vallone will be New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and State Senator Daniel Squadron of Brooklyn. To help their case, they will present Macy’s with a petition to return the fireworks to the East River. Since it was launched on June 28, over 3,000 people have signed the petition, said Squadron spokesperson Amy Spitalnick.

Vallone has been urging the department store to return the fireworks to the East River for years, but with de Blasio and Squadron’s help, Macy’s has finally agreed to sit down and discuss the move. “The East River is the heart of New York City and the people of Queens and Brooklyn should have front row seats,” he said. “Having it here on the East River helps Queens and Brooklyn businesses.”

Though Vallone would prefer that the fireworks were on the East River each year, Macy’s is likely to agree to alternating them between the Hudson and East rivers.

 

Ban sex offenders from library children’s rooms say pols


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

After a man sexually abused two children at the 41-17 Main Street branch of the Queens Public Library last month, New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and Councilmember Peter Vallone want to ban convicted sex offenders from entering children’s reading rooms.

Joel Grubert, who on July 7 was arrested for sexually abusing a 6- and 9-year-old at the library, is a registered sex offender. In 2004, he was convicted for possession of child pornography, and served time for kidnapping, reported the NY Post. Last year, a similar incident happened at another Queens Public Library branch in Astoria.

Currently sex offenders are not legally allowed to enter a playground, but the courts have ruled that a policy of banning sex offenders from libraries altogether is unconstitutional.

De Blasio and Vallone have written a letter to New York State Legislative leaders asking them to pass legislation that would make entering a designated children’s room at a public library a criminal offense for a sex offender.

“It is common sense that we keep sexual predators away from areas where young kids congregate,” said Vallone. “Children’s rooms in libraries are really indoor playgrounds for growing minds, and our kids need every protection we can give them.”