Tag Archives: Public Advocate Letitia James

Thousands relive past World’s Fairs at anniversary festival, call for third Fair


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre


It wasn’t quite a third New York World’s Fair, but Sunday’s anniversary festival left that impression.

Thousands flocked to Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the site of the 1939-40 and 1964-65 World’s Fairs, to honor the 75th and 50th anniversaries through a myriad of free activities, exhibitions and various food, sponsored by the Queens borough president’s office and the Parks Department.

People mostly from around the city, Tri-State area and Long Island came to relive the memory of the World’s Fair and pass along that feeling to the next generation.

“For me, just to come back and pay respects 50 years later is [great],” said Carlos Rios, a Harlem native who attended the 1964-65 World’s Fair. “It’s deja-vu.”

Surrounding the iconic Unisphere, there were inflatable rides for children, international food courtesy of LIC Flea & Food, free tours, exhibitions from Queens educational institutions, memorabilia from past Fairs, and music from various bands— including Beatles tribute band, the Liverpool Shuffle.

Despite the festivities, the celebration just didn’t compare to an actual World’s Fair, some said.

“This is not a World’s Fair, this is just a reunion-type thing,” Marc Cutler, a Brooklyn resident who collects World’s Fair memorabilia said. “There’s no comparison.”

But the festival triggered so many memories of the Fair, some people are now calling for a third fair, and politicians are already on board.

“We need conservation, preservation, and more economic development [in Queens], and I think a World’s Fair would do all of that wrapped up in one,” Public Advocate Letitia James said.

Many watched and listened as the band Raices and others performed in front of the Unisphere. 

Learning the history of the World’s Fair is great, but for kids, bouncy houses are also fun.  

International food vendors, such as Koso’s Korean cuisine, were available at the festival courtesy of LIC Flea & Food. 

AT&T unveiled charging stations— a must-have in modern times. 

A festival isn’t a festival without classic cars. 

An original Batmobile from the Batman TV series in the mid-1960s. It was not part of the 1964-65 World’s Fair, but Autoseum added it to the classic cars selection because it is a fan favorite. 

New York State Pavilion advocates were around to give tours and information on the structure as well as ask people to sign petitions to save it. 

 

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UPS workers rally in Maspeth to save 250 drivers’ jobs


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Follow me @liamlaguerre

 

Elected officials and UPS workers held a rally in front of the company’s Maspeth distribution center Friday to save the jobs of 250 drivers—more than half the fleet—who were recently handed termination slips.

The cuts were made after workers for the parcel delivery service held a rally—while on the job—on February 26. The first demonstration protested the firing of Jairo Reyes, a UPS employee of 24 years. UPS showed Reyes no love on Valentine’s Day, when he was fired, escorted out of the facility, and had his employee card taken away.

“That was my Valentine’s Day gift from UPS,” said Reyes, who is married with two children.

Teamsters Local 804, which represents the workers, said Reyes should have had a hearing and meeting with his business agent before getting the hook.

Reyes filed a grievance with two co-workers before he was fired, arguing that junior workers were allowed to start earlier than their seniors, but the employee contract states earlier start times are based on seniority, Reyes said. He was fired officially for “admitted dishonesty” because he started his shifts earlier. But Reyes said a manager verbally okayed his punching-in early, starting from Jan. 6.

“They took a grievance with one employee and turned it into notices of termination with 250 workers,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. “That’s outrageous. These are good, hardworking employees who have a contract for UPS. To try and break this contract, break this union, is something that is unacceptable and we can’t tolerate.”

The company and the union were in ongoing talks about Reyes’ and other workers’ grievances, but negotiations broke down recently. Then UPS decided to ax the 250 workers for “illegal and unauthorized work stoppage,” following the initial rally.

“UPS takes its commitments to its customers very seriously, and must take action to ensure unauthorized employee actions resulting in refusal to work, does not prevent the company from meeting its service and delivery commitments,” the company said in a statement.

Union representatives and Public Advocate Letitia James passed along a petition with more than 100,000 signatures after the demonstration on March 21, to get the company to negotiate a settlement.

Reyes hopes to at least get his job back.

“I’ve dedicated my years to the company, my passion, my life. That would be good to have my job back,” he said. “I have a family to support.”

 

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Groundhogs see shadows, predict six more weeks of winter


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYC Mayor's Office's Flickr

Get ready to bundle up because winter is here to stay, according to the nation’s two most famous groundhogs.

Both Charles G. Hogg, also known as “Staten Island Chuck,” and Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil saw their shadows Sunday morning predicting six more weeks of cold weather.

Photo courtesy of Punxsutawney Phil’s Facebook Page

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Public Advocate Letitia James celebrated in Staten Island for the city’s Groundhog Day celebrations.

De Blasio did not get a warm response from the audience when he said Staten Island Chuck “likes the polar vortex” after the prediction was made.

He also did not receive a friendly response from Chuck, who de Blasio dropped as he was trying to hold him during the ceremony.

It wasn’t the first time the groundhog had an awkward encounter with a New York City mayor. In 2009, he bit then-mayor Michael Bloomberg’s finger.

 

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Queens Borough President Melinda Katz sworn in by Mayor de Blasio


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Mike DiBartolomeo

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz was officially sworn into office Thursday in a star-studded political gathering.

“It’s an exciting time for me,” said Katz, in front of hundreds of supporters and a lengthy list of dignitaries. “I’m humbled and I’m honored to be the Queens Borough President.”

The 48-year-old Forest Hills mom of two was installed Jan. 9 by Mayor Bill de Blasio, with the help of Congressmember Joe Crowley.

“I have to tell you that Melinda brings so much to this job,” de Blasio said. “She has a real passion for the people she serves. She loves this borough. I can tell you that because I’ve seen her stand up for Queens many times.”

The mayor said the “exemplary” and diverse borough “epitomizes the American Dream.”

“Melinda Katz gets to be the person who brings all those beautiful strengths together and makes this borough work for the people,” de Blasio said.

The newly elected borough president, dedicating the night to her parents, took her oath of office with her hand upon her father’s copy of the Old Testament.

Crowley, citing Biblical figures, said he hoped for Katz “the wisdom of Moses, the leadership of Joshua and the valor and the strength of Esther.”

“She possesses many of those qualities and more,” Crowley said. “We’re going to have the opportunity to see her grow.”

The standing-room-only ceremony at Queens College’s Lefrak Concert Hall also featured U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, Public Advocate Letitia James, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and dozens of Queens legislators.

Katz’s partner, Curtis Sliwa, and the couple’s two sons, Carter and Hunter, watched from the audience.

Katz, a former member of the City Council and state Assembly, was elected Nov. 5 to be the 19th borough president of Queens. She succeeds Helen Marshall, who held the seat since 2001.

Her plans for the borough include making the Rockaway ferry permanent and pushing for more primary and urgent care facilities.

“Let’s move it forward,” Katz said. “Let’s make it a place for families to have everything they need right here in the borough of Queens.”

“My only wish is I never let you down,” Katz said.

 

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