Tag Archives: rally

Families at Pan American homeless shelter reportedly bused to movies during third protest


| editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Residents of the controversial Pan American Hotel homeless shelter were kept away from protestors during another rally against the opening of the site, according to a published report.

About 550 residents gathered Tuesday to hold another protest in front of the hotel located on Queens Boulevard and prior to the rally, the Department of Homeless Services arranged to have 230 children and adults from the shelter bused to the movies, DNAinfo reported.

The residents were taken to see “How to Train Your Dragon 2” paid for by the agency at a theater in Jamaica in order to remove the children from any hatred that “potentially could be exhibited” during the July 22 rally, according to DNAinfo.

Last night’s rally is the third held by residents opposing the shelter which currently houses more than 180 families. The community has said that the hotel was turned into the shelter, by nonprofit Samaritan Village, without residents and elected officials being given prior notice.

The last protest, which coincided with Community Board 4’s meeting with the DHS and residents, was filled with hundreds of protestors shouting criticisms back and forth with shelter residents.

Two weeks ago, just a neighborhood away, DHS approved the conversion of the 121-room Westway Motor Inn in East Elmhurst into a permanent homeless shelter as well.

Community members and elected officials in that area also say they were not told or asked about the decision.

The hotel previously was used as an emergency overnight site for homeless families, but two years ago the DHS has said it would not turn the motel into a permanent homeless shelter.

An emergency town hall meeting and public protest against the East Elmhurst homeless shelter is scheduled for Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria.

 

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Elmhurst residents say no to homeless shelter at Pan-American Hotel


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos by Salvatore Licata

Updated: 6/19/2014 2:17 p.m. 

SALVATORE LICATA

Hundreds of protestors flocked to the Pan-American Hotel in Elmhurst to push back on the city’s initiative to house more homeless families in the neighborhood.

“We must step up to the plate now and stop this from going any further,” Roe Daraio, president of the nonprofit Communities of Maspeth & Elmhurst Together Inc. (COMET) Civic Association and organizer of the Tuesday protest, said to the crowd. “We must call to attention the issue of homelessness and how the city is choosing to deal with it.”

In a plan that is supported by Mayor Bill de Blasio, nonprofit Samaritan Village proposed the Pan-American Hotel, located at 7900 Queens Blvd., to house 200 homeless people, including the 36 families already residing there.

This is the fourth homeless shelter in Elmhurst and for residents of the community, it is one too many.

“They did this without any input from the community,” Hilda Chu, one of the protestors, said. “We have three already and now they want to add a fourth. This is so unfair to us.”

Councilman Daniel Dromm addressed the crowd during the June 17 protest and said he was disappointed by the Department of Homeless Services’ (DHS) lack of communication with local officials. He was outraged that he was given no advance notice that the closed-down hotel would now house homeless families, but said protestors must act civilly in their protest and engage in a discussion to figure out the best way to combat the situation.

“Elmhurst is overburdened [with the homeless],” Dromm said. “It is bad policy to bring that many needy people into one place.”

Pan-American Hotel officials declined to comment on the subject.

The DHS will provide the families with three meals a day until the agency can move them to an alternate shelter, the agency said.

“As the number of families with children residing in temporary, emergency shelter grows, we must consider all available options to address our capacity needs and meet our legally mandated right to shelter,” the DHS said in a statement. “In the short term, DHS is using the Queens Boulevard facility to provide essential shelter and supportive services to families with children.”

Advocates previously claimed that both the mayor and City Comptroller Scott Stringer approved the plan, but Stringer’s office said he only approved payments for family shelters across the city but had not weighed in on any specific location.

“[Stringer] believes that communication and adequate community notification are critical parts of this process,”  said a Stringer spokesman.

 

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Maspeth UPS cuts 250 workers, drivers to rally Friday


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Follow me @liamlaguerre

 

What can brown do for its workers? Rehire them.

UPS employees and public officials are planning to host a demonstration in Maspeth Friday, hoping the company will rehire 250 drivers that were recently handed termination slips.

The delivery service, which has a center in the neighborhood, cut the drivers following a rally on Feb. 26, according to the union that represents the employees.

The workers organized the rally, because a long-time driver was terminated recently for frequently clocking in early, sources close to the situation said.

The union said the firing of the workers is a violation of their contract, and is hoping to save all the drivers’ jobs.

 

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College Point principal resigns after protests and allegations


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File Photo

The so-called “terror-driven reign” of a College Point principal is over.

Jennifer Jones-Rogers resigned as head of P.S. 29 last week, education officials confirmed, after dozens in the community urged the city to fire her earlier this summer.

“I think that this is a step in the right direction, but it’s not everything,” said Gloria Huachamber, who has a 9-year-old son in the school. “Why did this happen in the first place? As much as I am happy, what happens to all the damage that was done? We need to follow the trail.”

Critics said Jones-Rogers wrongfully placed a handful of students in special education classes without notifying parents and created a “hostile environment” that drove away teachers and caused parents to pull their kids from the elementary school.

“The behavior of Principal Jones-Rogers as described by parents and teachers was simply unacceptable, and it became clear that she had lost control of the school,” said State Senator Tony Avella.

Jones-Rogers quit October 8, a spokesperson for the city’s Department of Education (DOE) said. 

Jill Leaky-Eisenberg, a veteran educator with more than 20 years of experience under her belt, replaces her. She was the assistant principal of P.S. 21 in Flushing before the switch, the DOE said.

“I don’t think this was a resigning. I think this was more avoiding the issue. People don’t just leave overnight,” Huachamber said. 

According to the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators (CSA), Jones-Rogers recently gave birth and is leaving to support her husband’s new job out of New York.

“We’re very happy that her husband got a great, new job out of state and they’re moving,” said CSA spokesperson Chiara Coletti. “I’m sure she’ll continue to work there.”

About two dozen parents and teachers rallied in front of P.S. 29 in August to call on the city to fire Jones-Rogers and start an investigation into apparent mismanagement of funds.

Educators say she did not provide a copy of the school’s budget to the United Federation of Teachers chapter president for the past two years as required and also got rid of the school’s library and computer lab.

The principal’s bullish tactics were also allegedly used on teachers who complained about her, according to many who said they had their desks taken away as punishment.

“Now there’s peace at the school — for now,” Huachamber said.

According to Avella, the Office of the Special Commissioner of Investigation probed the administrator’s handlings.

Jones-Rogers could not be reached for comment.

A similar rally held last year to remove an unpopular principal at Martin Van Buren High School yielded the same result.

Marilyn Shevell, who was called an “ineffective leader” by members of the PTA and community, retired from the Queens Village school last July after the protest, according to the DOE.

Van Buren has since improved a full letter grade from a “D” to a “C” under new leadership from Sam Sochet, the latest progress report shows.

P.S. 29 scored a “B” on its most recent report. The school received an “A” in 2010 during Jones-Rogers’ first term.

 

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Bayside rallies to save after-school program


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A community rallied in Bayside to save a beloved Beacon program from another year of budget cuts.

“This feels like déjà vu. Year in and year out, we have more and more budget cuts,” said Assemblymember Nily Rozic. “We cannot balance budgets on the backs of our students.”

The after-school enrichment program at M.S. 158 Marie Curie is slated for closure at the end of the school year. It was saved from the chopping block by the City Council last year after the Department of Youth and Community Development tried to shut down seven Beacons across the city.

“These types of cuts go on year after year. It’s a continual battle with the city to restore the funding,” said State Senator Tony Avella. “We have a fight on our hands, but the community stands behind this Beacon center.”

Beacon has been a “support system” for 20 years and the only program within Community Board 11, said Martenia Miller, site director of the school’s Beacon program.

More than 100 students take part in the enrichment program daily. Nearly 70 of them are on the school’s honor roll, Miller said.

Community Board 11 chair Jerry Iannece said the city mistakes the program as a luxury.

“This is a necessity,” he said. “Although we live in an affluent area with nice homes, lots of the kids who go to the Beacon program are kids who need it. We all have to rally our forces, circle our wagons and do everything we can to keep this program here.”

Beacon operates after school, on weekends, school holidays and throughout the summer. It focuses on leadership and skill growth, serving youth and adults.

There are 80 Beacon programs citywide.

Miller said the program at M.S. 158 boasts a talented chamber orchestra, a dance team, literacy classes and gym.

“Beacon helps kids get a place to stay, helps unemployment, helps kids socialize and become more active,” said Anna Poubouridis, 13. “In my opinion, those are some very important things.”

 

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This Morning’s Headlines


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Mets Owners Sell Team Shares Following $162M Settlement With Madoff Victims’ Trustee

Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz last week sold 12 minority stakes in the troubled franchise worth $240 million, using the proceeds to pay off Major League Baseball and reduce the team’s crippling debt, The Post has learned. With the moves, the team now has breathing room with its lenders and — combined with yesterday’s Picard settlement — appears to have saved the franchise. Read More: NY1

 

Mets owners could actually make money in Madoff settlement

It’s the biggest win for the Mets since 1986 — but a huge letdown for the fans. The team’s stingy owners will remain at the helm after striking a sweetheart settlement with the lawyer tasked with recouping billions from Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme — and the deal actually casts them as victims of the fraud. The deal heads off a risky jury trial, where a loss could have cost owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz up to $383 million and control of the franchise. Read More: New York Post

 

Rangers edge Devils, clinch playoff spot in East

Brandon Dubinsky scored shortly after a fight-filled opening faceoff, and the Rangers became the first Eastern Conference team to earn a playoff spot by beating the New Jersey Devils 4-2 on Monday night. Three fights broke out at the outset and that seemed to jump-start the Rangers, who had lost two straight and five of seven as their once commanding lead in the East dwindled to almost nothing. Read More: New York Post

 

Trayvon Martin shooting: Feds to investigate killing of unarmed black teen by Florida neighborhood watch captain

The growing national attention – and outcry – over the case of an unarmed black teen in Florida who was fatally shot by a neighborhood watch captain has culminated with the federal government’s announcement that it will launch an investigation. The announcement late Monday by the Justice Department followed a day of protests calling for the arrest of George Zimmerman, 28, who claims he shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin last month in self-defense during a confrontation in a gated community. Read More: Daily News

 

Cops nab burglary suspect — but hunt for ‘Vaseline Bandit’ continues

Police who were already hunting for a burglar who has brazenly pulled off 14 apartment break-ins in Upper Manhattan — using Vaseline to block door peepholes — captured another apartment thief re-handed, casually watching TV, in the middle of a heist tonight. But law enforcement sources said the 20-something perp is not the so-called Vaseline Bandit, who is in his 50s. Read More: New York Post

 

Government may make it easier for airlines to allow passengers to use personal electronic devices during takeoffs and landings

The government is taking a tentative step toward making it easier for airlines to allow passengers to use personal electronic devices such as tablets, e-readers and music players during takeoffs and landings. The Federal Aviation Administration said Monday it is “exploring ways to bring together all of the key stakeholders involved” – including airlines, aircraft manufacturers, consumer electronics makers, and flight attendant unions – to discuss whether there are practical ways to test devices to see if they are safe for passengers to use during critical phases of flight. Read More: Daily News

 

Peyton Manning finalizing contract with Broncos

All that’s needed is Peyton Manning’s autograph. After being pursued by teams around the NFL, the QB with four MVP awards is headed to the land of John Elway and Tim Tebow, agreeing to a contract with Denver that could make the Broncos an instant Super Bowl contender. It could also send one of the NFL’s most intriguing young players packing. So much for Tebowmania. Manning called Elway on Monday morning and told the Broncos executive that he had chosen Denver over the Tennessee Titans and San Francisco 49ers in the wildest free-agent chase of the offseason. Read More: Yahoo Sports

 

3 wounded in Harlem shooting

A gunman shot three men across from a Harlem playground this afternoon, police said. The unknown assailant blasted his victims in front of a deli across from the St. Nicholas Playground on West 129th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue about 2:30 p.m., cops said. A 30-year-old man was wounded in the left hand and leg, a 25-year-old was shot in the left leg, and a 23-year-old was wounded in the butt, authorities said. Read More: New York Post

 

NYPD Ups Security In Wake Of Jewish School Shooting In France

The NYPD yesterday deployed hundreds of cops to synagogues and Jewish neighborhoods citywide after a gunman fatally shot three kids and a rabbi at a Jewish school in France. “Obviously, we’re concerned about what happened in Toulouse,” Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said of the shooting. Read More: NY1

 

Jail guard shot

An off-duty Rikers correction officer was shot by her boyfriend last night outside a Queens diner, police sources said. The woman was hit in the stomach near the USA Diner on Merrick Boulevard in Laurelton at 10:50 p.m., cops said. The shooter fled. It wasn’t immediately clear what sparked the fight. Read More: New York Post

 

‘Gangster’ sought in groom slay

They picked the wrong guy to push around. The Staten Island restaurant worker reportedly thrown to the ground by groom-to-be Anthony Lacertosa and his boozing buddies was purported Albanian gangster Redinel Dervishaj, who then allegedly killed Lacertosa with a butcher knife. Investigators believe Dervishaj, 35, has since fled the city, a law-enforcement source said. Read More: New York Post

 

‘Mad Men’ star Jon Hamm sticks to his guns in calling Kim Kardashian an ‘idiot’

Square-jawed “Mad Men” actor Jon Hamm is sick of your stupid shtick. Channeling his straight-shooting character Don Draper,  Hamm put Kim Kardashian in her place Monday, dissing the curvaceous celebutard yet again. NBC “Today” show host Matt Lauer asked the AMC retro-series actor to clarify the earlier comments he made to Elle UK about Kardashian being a famous-for-being-famous “idiot,” which the reality starlet called “careless.” Read More: Daily News

Rally to remove ‘ineffective’ principal at Van Buren


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Local leaders and parents hope to expel the unpopular principal of a failing school.

According to PTA President Helen Young, Martin Van Buren High School is brimming with “ineffective leaders,” starting with Principal Marilyn Shevell, who several members of the community called “uninvolved.”

“The [city] still hasn’t gotten it right, and the parents want [these leaders] removed right now,” Young said at a rally held in front of the school on February 9. “I strongly feel that principal Shevell lacks the skill to be a leader and lacks the vision and ability to take our kids to their highest level. It’s time for a change in leadership.”

Martin Van Buren received a “D” in the most recent Department of Education (DOE) progress report, which is based on student progress toward graduation, performance on standardized tests and coursework and student attendance. The Bellerose school scored a “C” in the last two years as well.

“Clearly, the school is failing, and we need to change the leadership to get a new, fresh approach,” said Senator Tony Avella.

The Department of Education (DOE) recently moved eight low-achieving Queens high schools into the School Improvement Grant Program known as Turnaround — which involves the closure and immediate reopening of the school under a different name, along with the replacement of the principal and 50 percent of the teachers.

Although Martin Van Buren is not one of the eight schools slated for Turnaround, Avella said he wanted agency officials to take action before it’s too late.

“I don’t want a situation where next year they get another failing grade, and then you have to say to the community, to the parents and the students, ‘We’re closing the school.’ That’s going to happen unless something changes here. Let’s not dare wait until then. Let’s make the change,” Avella said. “We cannot allow another one of our neighborhood high schools to fail. We cannot let Martin Van Buren become the next Jamaica High School.”

Young said the now “hardly recognizable” school has become a site of plummeting morale since Shevell took over in 2002.

Likewise, sophomore Wendell F. expressed unrest inside the building, telling The Courier he recently got suspended from school after a female classmate punched him in the face.

“I didn’t hit her, but they still suspended me for five days,” he said. “The teachers and the deans, they don’t listen to any of the students. They just suspend us for anything, and we miss days of school. I’m upset about everything, the way they treat all of us. If they end up shutting down this school, I hope it gets reopened into a better school — or I hope they get a different staff.”

The DOE — who Shevell directed questions to — declined to comment.

Verizon workers rally for contract


| dbeltran@queenscourier.com

DSC_0137w

Verizon workers, without a contract since last August, are sending a clear message: “Can you hear me now?”

Over 300 workers, including many Communications Workers of America union members, rallied in front of the Verizon telephone building in Jamaica and in front of a nearby Verizon Wireless store.

According to Amy Muldoon, employees are currently working under an extension of their last contract, but said bargaining negotiations for a new contract are going nowhere.

“We’re trying to bargain but there’s no movement,” said President Jerry Bulzomi of the C.W.A. Local 1106. “They want to take away our medical benefits, pension fund, anything that costs them money. We want to know why they’re trying to take it off on our backs.”

However, John Bonomo, a Verizon spokesperson, said that most of the landline workers don’t pay anything for health insurance premiums.

“The telecommunications business is undergoing huge changes and the new contract should reflect those changes,” said Bonomo. “We’re not the monopoly in the phone area anymore. People are going to the cable companies for some services.”

According to Verizon’s bargaining facts web site, the number of Verizon landlines has gone down fom 55 million in 2003 to 25 million in 2011.
At the rally, workers chanted, “no contract, no peace” and, “C.W.A., we won’t go away.” A few even stood outside the Verizon store handing out flyers informing people why they were rallying and asking people to consider a switch to AT&T, which they say supports union workers.

“This is not one contract,” said one worker. “We are fighting a corporate climate across the country. Don’t be afraid to fight for your contract.”

“We’re not going to apologize for being a successful business,” said Bonomo. “Being successful means we can provide jobs and competitive wages.

According to Muldoon, Verizon workers’ last contract lasted from 2009 to August of last year and they’re looking to preserve everything they bargained for.

Bulzomi, along with many other workers, said it comes down to corporate greed. Despite already having gone on strike last year, and only making small progress in negotiations, workers aren’t ready to give up.

“People struck for us to have protection,” said one worker. “I will not give that up without one hell of a fight.”

J.H.S. 194 parents, pols protest elimination of school buses


| tcimino@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Bob Doda. The Department of Education said 7th and 8th grade students must wait at an MTA bus stop down the block for the two-bus, 90-minute trip to school.

As the school bus pulled away, virtually empty, not only were parents angry, they were protesting.

City Councilmember Dan Halloran and several elected leaders from northeast Queens joined parents from J.H.S. 194 in College Point on Friday, November 4 at a rally protesting the elimination of the school’s buses.

“The Department of Education [DOE] must provide transportation to ensure that students travel safely to and from school,” said Councilmember Peter Koo. “It is unacceptable for the DOE to make budget cuts or reductions to services that adversely impact the well-being of tomorrow’s leaders. The safe transport of students is the responsibility of the DOE and they should immediately resume yellow bus service. During these difficult and challenging times, parents have enough to worry about and we should not further burden them with the concern for their children’s safety when traveling to and from school.”

Organized by J.H.S. 194 parents, the rally was held at the school bus stop for 6th grade students at the intersection of 6th Avenue and College Point Boulevard.

But rather than permit 7th and 8th grade students to ride the desolate bus, the DOE has said they must wait at an MTA bus stop down the block for the two-bus, 90-minute trip to school.

Parents at 194 were informed one day before school started in September that 7th and 8th grade students would not be eligible for school bus service this year as they had been in the past, as a cost-cutting measure by the mayor.

“College Point is one of the most underserved communities in New York City,” said Halloran. “It is shameful that 11-year-old children from this community have to take a dangerous, complicated two-hour commute twice a day just to get to school and back. It’s unsafe and unreasonable, and they deserve better. Every time an empty school bus drives by this bus stop, it represents a waste of the taxpayers’ money and a slap in the face of College Point.”