Tag Archives: Queens District 19

Participatory budget projects announced in districts 19 and 23


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alina Suriel

Councilmen in northeast Queens announced the winning projects to be funded with their participatory budgeting allowances, a democratic process in which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget.

Councilman Paul Vallone announced the four winning projects from District 19 in a press conference in his Bell Boulevard office on Monday, with a crowd of community members waiting on his every word to see if their favored project would be chosen. This year 2,300 votes were cast the district.

The project that received the most votes in District 19 was to build a state-of-the-art music studio for Bayside High School for $400,000. The proposal received 1,430 votes, and will serve 350 students in the school’s “Career and Technical Education” program for music production and performance.

“Participatory budgeting was a great experience for our students and we look forward to the positive effect the new music studio will provide to our academic programming,” said John Hirata, Bayside High School assistant principal of operations.

An auditorium upgrade for P.S. 169 received the most votes after the Bayside High School music studio with a total of 1,041, and will also cost $400,000. The elementary school will receive replacements in lighting, curtains, seating and a sound system for the auditorium that students share with middle school Bell Academy.

“We are so thrilled to have this auditorium upgrade because both our schools really need it,” said Orit Foresta, a parent coordinator at P.S. 169. “We do a lot of arts, a lot of shows in our schools.”

The other two projects to be funded in District 19 are $90,000 in technology upgrades for P.S. 159 and the installation of three NYPD security cameras throughout the district for $105,000.

Photo courtesy of Mark Weprin's office

Photo courtesy of Mark Weprin’s office

Councilman Mark Weprin announced the winning participatory budget proposals for District 23 on Friday, April 24. Weprin was one of the first eight City Council members to offer participatory budgets to constituents in 2012, the initiative’s first year. Twenty-four districts have since adopted the process.

“It is my hope that next year, more of my colleagues embrace participatory budgeting,” Councilman Weprin said. “It’s a great way to get community residents involved — especially those who may not be actively involved in the political process.”

A District 23 proposal with 1,146 votes received the most support, and will see $455,000 in technology upgrades coming to nine local schools. All of the schools serve children at elementary grade levels except for one, the Queens High School of Teaching.

A entry for fitness equipment at Alley Pond Park was in second place for most votes in District 23, with a total of 1,065 voting in favor of the $450,000 project. The last proposal to be funded is a plan to use $300,000 for renovations at the physical education facilities of Benjamin N. Cardozo High School in Bayside and Martin Van Buren High School in Queens Village.

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Halloran dropping re-election bid amid federal charges


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

DAN HALLORAN

With an uphill legal battle underway, Councilmember Dan Halloran will not to run for re-election later this year, widening an already crowded race for his seat.

A source close to Halloran originally confirmed the embattled legislator is withdrawing from the race.

“Regrettably, I must now focus my attention on clearing my name and restoring my reputation, while I continue to discharge my sworn duties as a member of the New York City Council,” Halloran said in a statement. “After much thought, I have concluded that it is impossible for me to properly do these things and take on the enormous demands of a political campaign, so I will not to pursue another term in the Council.”

Halloran has maintained his innocence on federal corruption charges alleging he helped a state legislator try to buy his way onto the Republican mayoral ballot. Halloran entered a “not guilty” plea in court last week.

Several Halloran staffers, including his chief of staff and his legislative director, resigned in the days and weeks after Halloran was arrested on April 2. Federal prosecutors accuse Halloran of taking $20,000 in bribes and arranging payouts for GOP bosses in Queens and the Bronx with the aim of getting Democratic State Senator Malcolm Smith the Republican mayoral nomination.

Halloran started focusing on his re-election campaign in District 19 after losing a congressional election for the newly-drawn Congressional District 6 last year. Some political insiders viewed him as a long shot and he had trouble raising funds.

Democratic primary candidate former Assemblymember John Duane, Paul Graziano, Paul Vallone and Austin Shafran announced their candidacies for the District 19 seat prior to Halloran’s arrest last month. Chrissy Voskerichian, Halloran’s former chief of staff, filed papers with the city’s Campaign Finance Board.

Several calls were placed to Voskerichian for comment.

But since then, fellow Republicans have begun to eye the seat. Dennis Saffran, a Douglaston attorney, announced his candidacy last week. The move, backed by the Queens GOP, will likely force a primary.

Since his arrest, Halloran has also come under media scrutiny for an alleged affair with a former staffer while Halloran was still married.

The New York Post subsequently reported Halloran was having an affair with a former intern. The intern was reportedly in Halloran’s home during his early morning arrest. Because Halloran has not immediately stepped down, he is still open to a misconduct investigation by the council on sexual misconduct allegations reported earlier this week.
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