Tag Archives: Queensboro Bridge

Silvercup Studios seeking permit approvals again for delayed expansion


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Renderings courtesy Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners LLP

The stalled Silvercup West development, a planned $1 billion expansion of Silvercup Studios in Long Island City just south of the Queensboro Bridge, is back in the spotlight — for special permit renewals.

The land use committee of Community Board 2 is reviewing the application and is expected to bring the matter to a full board vote in the next public meeting on Oct. 2.

The permits are for various design elements in the project, including a proposed 1,400-space parking garage, which was granted three years ago, but has expired since.

A representative for Silvercup at a recent community board committee meeting said they expect to get the approvals quickly without issues, because of past consents.

The Silvercup West plan first debuted about eight years ago with tons of media coverage. The project includes eight new soundstage studios as part of a larger 2.2 million-square-foot complex containing an office tower, high-rise apartment towers with 1,000 residences, retail space, a catering hall and cultural space.

The community board, the borough president, City Planning and the City Council all gave their blessings for the land use case of the project in 2006, and it was supposed to be completed by 2010, according to published reports.

However, the project is being held up by New York Power Authority (NYPA) generators on the site, which have to be decommissioned and removed. The generators, which have 150-foot smoke stacks on each one, are sitting on three acres of land.

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Silvercups’ plan to restore the near century-old landmarked terracotta building at 42-10 Vernon Blvd. have been proceeding well, according to a spokesman, and other plans are seeing movement as well, but the generators are stopping progression.

“We have worked with DEC on getting plans approved for remediation, and have gotten Army Corps approval to install a new bulkhead,” spokesman Russ Colchamiro said. “However, we cannot proceed with the project unitl the NYPA generators are removed.”

If the permits are renewed by the board, the application moves to City Planning for review.

View more renderings and information for the project here.

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Artist arrested in Queensboro Bridge climb


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Video/Screenshot via YouTube/Anthony Sneed

Police have arrested a Brooklyn street artist after a YouTube video was posted of him scaling the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge to install one of his pieces last week, the NYPD said.

Brendan Fagan, 35, turned himself in at Manhattan’s 19th Precinct Friday morning, while accompanied by his lawyer, according to officials.

He has been charged with criminal trespass, reckless endangerment and violation of local law, police said.

A video that went up Saturday shows the artist, who goes by the name Judith Supine , as he makes his way across the bridge before his nighttime climb, then cuts to the artist perched on top of the span with views of the city skyline before he installs his work.

The climber made the trek up the bridge just after midnight on March 24, according to the NYPD.

After seeing the footage, police said  they were investigating the incident earlier this week.

The video coincides with the March 29 opening of Supine’s show at the Mecka Gallery in East Williamsburg.

Supine told Fox 5 New York he pulled the stunt to get publicity for his work.

In 2009, he placed a piece on top of the Williamsburg Bridge and two years earlier he lowered one from the Manhattan Bridge.

This latest incident has raised concerns over security in the city following recent breaches at the World Trade Center.

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NYPD investigating after street artist installs piece on Queensboro Bridge


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Video/Screenshot via YouTube/Anthony Sneed

Police are investigating after a YouTube video was posted over the weekend of a Brooklyn street artist scaling the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge to install one of his pieces.

The video shows Judith Supine as he makes his way across the bridge before his nighttime climb, then cuts to the artist perched on top of the span with views of the city skyline before he installs his work.

The NYPD said it is reviewing the footage and no charges have been filed yet.

Supine’s trek up the East River bridge coincides with the March 29 opening of his show at the Mecka Gallery in  East Williamsburg.

This isn’t the first time Supine has pulled a daring stunt in the name of art.

In 2009, he placed a piece on top of the Wiliamsburg Bridge and two years earlier he lowered one from the Manhattan Bridge.

This weekend’s incident raises more concerns over security in the city following recent breaches at the World Trade Center.

 

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Op-ed: Make traffic safety a priority


| oped@queenscourier.com

COUNCILMEMBER COSTA CONSTANTINIDES

The 21st Street corridor between Queens Plaza and 20th Avenue has always been notorious for pedestrian fatalities.  It serves as a conduit between the Queensboro and Robert F. Kennedy Bridges, resulting in cars, trucks, and other heavy vehicles using the street to move quickly between these two points.

21st Street is also home to major senior and youth developments, such as I.S. 126, Long Island City High School, Bishop Iakovos Senior Housing, Vallone Family Senior Residence, Variety Boys & Girls Club, Queensview and North Queensview.  The increase in youth and senior populations, combined with increased commercial and cycling traffic, brings a need for improvement of traffic flow and an awareness of pedestrian safety.

According to data analyzed from the New York State Department of Transportation, New York State Department of Motor Vehicles and the New York Police Department, traffic on this stretch of 21st Street caused seven deaths and left 102 people with injuries from 2002 to 2011.

And these statistics have not improved since then. That data also showed that Queens had the highest incidents of fatalities due to traffic accidents in the city in 2013.

It’s easy to see why these deaths and injuries are occurring.

Some intersections along 21st Street have no crosswalks or countdown clocks at all. Many pedestrian crosswalks are bumpy, obscured with gravel or cracked asphalt, or otherwise impossible to cross if you’re in a wheelchair or pushing a stroller.  Some crosswalks are impossible to cross because the lights are non-existent or don’t allow for enough time to make it to the other side of the street.

This is an issue that plagues our entire city.  According to a Daily News analysis of NYPD reports, pedestrian deaths from vehicles, especially the number of children, are increasing and we are on pace to outnumber 2013 deaths in 2014.  So far, there have been 11 pedestrian deaths in 2014 across the city.

We clearly need a solution.

Earlier this month, we held a press conference on 21st Street, calling on the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) for action. State Senator Michael Gianaris, Assemblymember Aravella Simotas, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, local advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, Community Board 1,  parents from local schools, neighborhood community groups and senior centers, and other local activists joined. They agreed that real change is required to make 21st Street safer for everyone.

I therefore ask that the DOT conduct a traffic study of the 21st Street corridor, with the goal of creating a more safe and accessible street for all.

We need calming measures, such as countdown clocks and traffic lights for pedestrians, as well as well-maintained flattened crosswalks with no physical impediments for pedestrians with disabilities or children in strollers.

Our growth in population and small businesses is a boon to our local economy, but we need to make sure our infrastructure keeps up with increases in traffic. There is no excuse for us not to reduce the number of pedestrian fatalities by vehicles to zero.

Costa Constantinides represents the New York City Council’s 22nd District, which includes his native Astoria along with parts of Long Island City, Woodside, East Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights. He serves as the chair the City Council’s Sub-Committee on Libraries and sits on seven standing committees: Civil Service & Labor, Contracts, Cultural Affairs, Environmental Protection, Oversight & Investigations, Sanitation, and Transportation.

 

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DOT, NYPD announce nighttime closure of Queensboro Bridge outer roadway lane to reduce speeding


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ File Photo

A few weeks following the fatal accident of an off-duty police officer off the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge, the Department of Transportation (DOT) and NYPD have implemented a new change looking to increase safety for drivers and pedestrians.

The DOT and NYPD announced on Tuesday the single lane of the Queens-bound outer roadway of the Queensboro Bridge will be closed each day to vehicular traffic from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., starting Monday, Dec. 30.

The nighttime closure hopes to reduce the possibility for speeding and any other dangerous driving at night when the lane is not being used. All traffic capacity on Queens-bound inner and upper roadway lanes will not be affected.

“This upgrade to the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge is just the latest step we’ve taken to keep the more than 180,000 daily drivers crossing safely on one of the city’s most iconic bridges,” said DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.

The daily closure and reopening of the outer roadway lane will be organized by NYPD traffic officers who are already stationed at the bridge to manage the weekday reversal of the two upper roadway Queens-bound lanes.

The closure comes after the DOT conducted a review of current safety measures, traffic volumes and travel speed following the death of 10-year NYPD veteran Elisa Toro, 36,  on December 10.

Toro was heading off the bridge’s exit ramp around 1:50 a.m. when she struck a guardrail, then a cement barrier, said police. The car then flipped onto its passenger side, hitting a vacant storefront on Queens Plaza South at Crescent Street  in Long Island City. Toro, a Bronx resident, was pronounced dead at the scene. No one else was injured in the accident, said police.

“I applaud the DOT for finally giving this dangerous stretch of road the attention it deserves,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris who asked the DOT to improve traffic safety in the area and redesign the bridge’s exit ramp, after a series of accidents in 2011. “Hopefully, the nighttime closure of the Queens-bound outer roadway will provide the time for a proper evaluation of the street design coming off the Queensboro Bridge exit ramp so we can eventually solve this problem once and for all.”

According to the DOT, the outer-roadway closure joins other traffic measures installed by the Queens Plaza South exit ramp since 2011. The traffic measures include three 20 mph messages, “shark teeth” markings on the road, 14 yellow and 12 white 36”-by-8” aluminum-backed reflectors, four sets of rumble strips warning drivers they are approaching a reduced speed zone, and much more. Throughout the day, the agency plans to continue monitoring traffic volumes, safety measures and driving conditions on the bridge. 

 

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Vallone introduces legislation to remove Ed Koch from Queensboro Bridge name


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYC Mayor's Office Flickr/By Edward Reed

One local politician is taking the next step to bring the Queensboro Bridge back to the borough.

Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. introduced legislation on Tuesday to reestablish the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge to its original name, the Queensboro Bridge.

The city renamed the bridge in 2011 after the former Mayor Ed Koch, who passed away on February 1. Vallone led the opposition against the renaming of the bridge in 2011, along with 12 other councilmembers.

Vallone’s bill instead calls to rename the Manhattan Municipal Building, located at 1 Centre Street in Manhattan, as the Ed Koch Manhattan Municipal Building.

“While I realize this bill will not pass before the end of my term, I wanted to start the process so that Queens elected officials who come after me can restore the Queensboro Bridge to its rightful owners, while simultaneously providing an appropriate honor for the late Mayor Koch,” said Vallone.

 

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Fire shuts down Queensboro Bridge


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Twitter/Dave McCoroy

A truck fire on the lower level of the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge temporary shut down traffic in both directions for a few hours Friday.

The fire begun at 11:08 a.m., according to the FDNY, and no injuries have been reported.

The blaze was under control as of about 1 p.m., according to officials.

 


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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Monday: Partly cloudy with thunderstorms and rain showers in the afternoon. High of 95. Winds from the WNW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 20%. Monday night: Partly cloudy in the evening, then clear. Low of 79. Winds from the NW at 5 to 10 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Jamaica Jam Drum Circle

Mike Veny is a drum circle aficionado known for his high-energy grooves and ferocious backbeat. Participants will receive basic instruction before playing in a drum circle. Pre-registration is required; space is limited. Free at the Queens Central Library. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Protesters rally in Times Square for Trayvon MartinThrongs of marchers crowded into Times Square Sunday night following George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, blocking traffic amid calls for federal civil rights charges to be filed in the case. Read more: NBC New York

Councilman: Koch’s name doesn’t belong on Queensboro Bridge

City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. will introduce legislation to remove deceased former Mayor Ed Koch’s name from the Queensboro Bridge. Read more: NBC New YorkOpponents furious at plans for gas pipeline under Brooklyn, Rockaways
Opponents protested Sunday against a planned natural gas pipeline that would pass through Brooklyn and the Rockaways. Read more: CBS New York/APGov. Cuomo approves funding for breast cancer mapping

Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation authorizing the funding of breast cancer mapping. Read more: Fox New York

‘Glee’ star Cory Monteith found dead in Vancouver hotel

Cory Monteith, the heartthrob actor who became an overnight star as a high school quarterback-turned-singer in the hit TV series “Glee” but had battled addiction since his teenage years, was found dead of undisclosed causes in a hotel room, Vancouver police said. He was 31. Read more: AP

 

Pols want to speed up bike share expansion in western Queens


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Cristabelle Tumola

With the much-anticipated Citi Bike Share scheduled to begin by the end of the month, local politicians are calling on the Department of Transportation (DOT) to speed up expansion into western Queens.

On May 9, DOT set the Citi Bike Share’s start for the week of Memorial Day for annual members who sign up by May 17. The program is slated to open to daily and weekly members on June 2.

The program, which is operated by NYC Bike Share, will offer specially designed, durable bikes at docking stations around the city. Members can rent the bikes with special keys. They be available 24 hours a day year-round for 30 to 45 minutes at a go depending on the user’s membership plan.

The DOT plans to set up bike stations in Long Island City and Sunnyside within the year. Those are the only parts of the borough currently set to be covered by Citi Bike Share.

“Our community has worked for years to make western Queens more bike-friendly, and our efforts have been largely successful,” said Senator Michael Gianaris. “I am pleased to see that Long Island City is included in future plans, and I hope that the program will be quickly expanded to more western Queens neighborhoods.”

In recent years, western Queens has been the recipient of many bike-related amenities. Queensboro Bridge now features improved bike access. Also, developments like the Queens East River and North Shore Greenway have delivered transportation alternatives to and from Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Gianaris and Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer will continue to work with DOT, Citi Bike Share and local groups to speed up the process of bringing bike stations to Long Island City and the rest of western Queens.

“While we are initially placing the stations in the densest contiguous parts of the city that would generate the most use of the bikes, there will be a chance to expand in the future based on demand and resources,” said DOT spokesperson Scott Gastel.

You can find a map of stations included in the current plan at citibikenyc.com/stations.

 

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Man indicted in fatal Queensboro Bridge accident


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Photo via Facebook

A Brooklyn DJ whose drunken joy ride allegedly killed a pedestrian and destroyed two businesses under the Queensboro Bridge now faces up to 25 years in prison.

Grant Riddell, 38, was indicted on charges of drunk driving, vehicular manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and three counts of vehicular assault in connection with the March 28, 2011 incident.

Around 4 a.m., Riddell was driving his red 2007 Volkswagen Rabbit on the Queens-bound off-ramp of the outer roadway of the bridge when he struck the guardrail at the intersection of Queens Plaza South and Crescent Street. The car flipped over and slid across the street, striking and killing Anthony Buscemi Jr., 68, who was walking on the sidewalk.

Riddell’s vehicle also crashed with into two businesses on Queens Plaza South — the Villa De Beaute Salon and Espinal’s Caribbean Restaurant — causing significant damage.

Front-seat passenger Melissa Cohen suffered severe head and body trauma, a broken right ankle, broken pelvis and a collapsed lung in the accident. According to reports, Riddell, who goes by the DJ pseudonym K1W1, lost his left arm.

After being taken to the hospital, the defendant’s blood was drawn and tested, indicating he had a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit of .08 percent at the time of the crash. Riddell admitted to consuming several alcoholic beverages prior to operating his vehicle. Records also showed the defendant did not have a valid New York State license to operate a motor vehicle.

At Riddell’s December 13 court appearance, his lawyer submitted a plea of not guilty.

According to published reports, the owners of the damaged businesses have filed a $1 million lawsuit against Riddell and the city, citing poor construction of the ramp. Within 10 days, two cars crashed into the salon. The business owners could not be reached for comment as of press time.

Queens Morning Roundup


| brennison@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Friday: Sunny, with a high near 52. West wind 8 to 13 mph. Friday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 39. Northwest wind around 9 mph.

EVENT of the DAY: Carols ‘n’ Cookies ‘n’ Cocoa ‘n’ Cheer

Celebrate the season with warm wishes, delicious treats and the renowned choral group Voices That Blend. There will also be an Aquinas Honor Society video presentation of Jacob’s Gift, the story of how Jacob Riis brought Christmas caroling to the U.S. in 1911. Free admission and free parking on the grounds.  Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Gov. Cuomo, Gov. Christie and Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy demand quick action from Congress to provide $60 billion in disaster aid for states devastated by Sandy

The governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut and 125 powerful CEOs issued an extraordinary plea to Congress on Thursday, demanding quick action on $60 billion in disaster aid for states devastated by Hurricane Sandy. Read more: Daily News

Five people arrested in Queens gun-trafficking crackdown

Authorities say five people have been arrested in a crackdown on gun trafficking in southeast Queens. The arrests were announced Thursday by District Attorney Richard A. Brown and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. Read more: NY Post

Air Serv JFK security workers vote to authorize strike

Security workers at JFK Airport who work for Air Serv authorized a strike Thursday for December 20, the middle of the Christmas rush, if their concerns are not addressed. The officers employed by Global Elite will vote Friday. Read more: NY1

‘Drunk’ driver in fatal Queensboro Bridge crash faces up to 25 years in jail after turning down plea deal

A man who turned down a six-month plea deal after cops said he drunkenly drove his car off a Queensboro Bridge ramp — killing a pedestrian and destroying two businesses – now faces up to 25 years in jail. Read more: NY Post

Benefit events the next step in Sandy recovery

The hammers and work gloves are giving way to guitars and open wallets. Now that the initial chaos and cleanup has subsided, local groups and officials are shifting their focus toward galas and concerts to benefit those whose lives were torn asunder by Superstorm Sandy. Read more: Daily News

Queens nightclub owner acquitted in Teaneck double-homicide

Jurors in Hackensack on Thursday acquitted a Queens nightclub owner of a double street killing in Teaneck, rejecting prosecutors’ arguments that a cocaine scheme gone awry, an electronic trail to the crime scene, and his conflicting statements to police proved his guilt. Read more: The Record

Susan Rice pulls out as candidate for Secretary of State

Embattled UN Ambassador Susan Rice has taken her name out of the race for secretary of state, three months after her controversial comments on the Benghazi attack, according to broadcast reports today. Read more: NY Post

 

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.”

Chunk of Queensboro Bridge falls on Mercedes


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Chunk of Queensboro Bridge falls on Mercedes

A New Jersey man was driving to Queens Tuesday evening when he got an unexpected surprise — a piece of the Queensboro Bridge crashed through his Mercedes Benz. Andrew Campbell, 40, of Bergenfield, was heading to an indoor soccer game in Jackson Heights when he said a large screw and a piece of metal shattered the windshield of his white luxury car about 7 p.m. on the bridge’s lower level. Read More: New York Post

Playmate strips NY of $1.2M

Busty former Playboy Playmate Stephanie Adams was awarded $1.2 million yesterday after a Manhattan civil jury ruled she was the victim of excessive force by the NYPD. “I waited six years for this,” an emotional Adams said after the jury gave her $350,000 more than her lawyer had asked for from the 2006 run-in with cops, which was sparked when a cabby told cops the first openly lesbian Playmate threatened to shoot him — even though she sat in the back of his cab in a skimpy, skintight outfit that could barely conceal a cigarette lighter. Read More: New York Post

 

Mets strike out Kosher-dog vendor

Religious Jews attending Mets games at Citi Field on the Sabbath will have to stick to peanuts and Cracker Jacks. A judge yesterday ruled against a vendor who made a federal case out of the team’s order that it not peddle kosher hot dogs on Friday nights and Saturdays. Internal memos showed that team officials felt that Sabbath hot-dog sales did not cut the mustard under Jewish law and feared offending observant Jews. Read More: New York Post

New Agreement Could Bring 440-Seat Public School To Woodside

According to officials, a new 440-seat public school is coming to a lot at 57th Street and 39th Avenue in Woodside, Queens, and it will ideally provide some relief to the overcrowded PS 11. Read More: NY1

 

Queens Woman Claims Mold Drove Her From Home

A Queens woman says she’s struggling to find a new place to live after her apartment was recently overtaken by mold. Patrina Smith says she first noticed the problem in her bathroom last year. She asked her landlord to fix it, and a contractor came to clean it up but the mold came back just days later. Now, after months of back and forth, the mold has spread throughout her home. Smith says it’s taking a toll on her health. Read More: NY1

Watch Mayor Bloomberg dance to Lady Gaga in State of the City intro video


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Bloom

Before Mayor Michael Bloomberg made his way to the podium for his 11th State of the City speech, he was introduced by a short, entertaining video chronicling his “journey” to get to this year’s speech.  Along the way he poked fun at himself — he danced to Lady Gaga who helped him ring in the new year with a kiss — and issues he has fought for over the years, including bike lanes and taxis in the outer boroughs.  Numerous city officials were featured in the video — Chancellor Dennis Walcott, press secretary Stu Loeser, Health Commissioner Thomas Farley and Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan all made appearances.  The scene stealer, though, was former Mayor Ed Koch standing at the entrance of the former Queensboro Bridge shouting at drivers welcoming them to “his” bridge.  Watch the full video below.  What do you think of the video?

Mayor Michael Bloomberg makes his State of the City speech


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Mayor Michael Bloomberg made his State of the City highlighting ambitious plans to continue his overhaul of the “broken system” he faced when he entered office.

Before the mayor made his way to the podium a short video was played chronicling his “journey” to get to this year’s speech.  Along the way he poked fun at himself — he danced to Lady Gaga who helped him ring in the new year with a kiss — and issues he has fought for over the years, including bike lanes and taxis in the outer boroughs.  It also featured former Mayor Ed Koch welcoming motorists to “his” bridge, the former Queensboro Bridge.

Bloomberg opened up his 11th State of the City speech at Morris High School in the Bronx outlining the successes his administration has had.

“We did” became a running theme through the beginning of the speech.

“We said we’d launch a new East River ferry service, balance the budget and hold the line on taxes. And in partnership with Speaker Christine Quinn and the City Council — we did,” Bloomberg said.  ““We said we’d seek to attract a world-class university to build a new science and engineering campus here – the brainchild of EDC President Seth Pinsky and Deputy Mayor Bob Steel — and we did.”

The bulk of the speech focused on education and his commitment to continue improving the system.

“We took on the broken system, and by stressing accountability and innovation and ending social promotion, we’ve made real progress turning it around,” the mayor said.

His plan included retaining top teachers through pay raises, attracting top flight teachers by agreeing to pay student loans and by toughening guidelines for evaluating teachers.

Stay with The Queens Courier for the full story.