Tag Archives: Ray Kelly

Boston bombing suspects may have been heading to NYC to celebrate


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of FBI

According to NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, the Boston Marathon bombing suspects may have been on their way to New York City to celebrate after the attack, reported NBC New York.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who is now hospitalized and charged in the attack, told investigators that he and his older brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev were heading to Manhattan when they got into a gunfight with police that led to Tamerlan being killed, Kelly said. Dzhokhar fled the scene on foot and was found hiding in a boat in Watertown, Massachusetts on Friday.

The Boston Globe reported that after police talked with the carjacking victim that was allegedly held hostage by the brothers, they learned the suspects had told the victim about their role in the bombing.

The publication also reported that the suspects allegedly told the victim, “We just killed a cop. We blew up the marathon and now we are going to New York. Don’t [expletive] with us.”

Based on the interviews with the surviving Tsarnaev brother, Kelly reportedly said that investigators have come to believe that the two were not coming to New York to conduct additional attacks but instead to “party.”

 

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Democratic candidates tackle tough issues at Queens mayoral debate


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Four of five Democrats running for mayor would do away with stop-and-frisk or severely tweak it if they make it to Gracie Mansion.

City Comptroller John Liu, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and ex-Comptroller Bill Thompson said they were opposed to the controversial police tactic at a Queens mayoral debate last week. Former Councilmember Sal Albanese said it needed to be modified.

Front-runner City Council Speaker Christine Quinn was a no-show at the April 11 forum and has not publicly announced her stance on the issue.

“You think you’re reading about some third world dictatorship, not America and certainly not the City of New York,” Liu said. “It has to be abolished. That’s the way to . . . return our city to a state where it’s less of a police state and more of a city that we all came to America to see.”

The four candidates said the NYPD policy has caused rifts between police and communities. Liu, de Blasio and Thompson lambasted the practice as racial profiling.

“Somehow they’re being treated as suspects as a whole class of people,” de Blasio said of young minority males.

The public advocate also supported a plan to allow an inspector general to monitor the city’s police department. He and Thompson called for a new police commissioner, a mayoral appointment, to replace current department head Ray Kelly.

“Stop and frisk, when used correctly, is a useful policing tool,” Thompson said. “But it has been misused and abused by Bloomberg and by Commissioner Ray Kelly.”

Albanese said he would keep the policy in tact but would “focus on quality stops” and officer training. He also supported legalizing marijuana, but did not say if he would give Kelly the boot.

The mayoral hopefuls also discussed the city’s “abysmal” response to Sandy, the need to repair the public school system and plans to fix the city’s income gap.

Liu and de Blasio were in favor of hiking city taxes on incomes of more than $500,000 annually. Thompson said focusing on skill development in public schools would help close the city’s income gap.

“I always talk about the ‘tale of two cities’ we’re living,” de Blasio said. “It’s right in front of our eyes, these vast disparities that are going unaddressed.”

Albanese touted the 1996 passage of the New York City Living Wage Bill under his City Council tenure. But he warned against raising taxes on the wealthy, saying it would push the rich out of the city.

“It’s very sexy to say, ‘Let’s tax the rich.’ Bottom line is we want to generate revenue from services,” he said.

Liu, who wants to increase minimum wage to $11.50 an hour, said there was no evidence of wealthy residents hightailing it out of the city.

“I think it’s time that we stop holding our city hostage to those kinds of ideas,” he said.

 

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City speed camera program hits a red light


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Albany has put the brakes on the city’s speed cameras.

Despite a push from the Department of Transportation, the City Council, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, the State Legislature failed to include funding for the program in the 2013-2014 budget passed last week.

“I think the wrong decision was made by the Republican leadership of the State Senate,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. “It’s unfortunate because speed cameras would and can save lives. I hope that somehow [the State Legislature will] be able to pick this up again before the end of the session and pass the bill.”

Although it was initially supported by the Assembly, it faced opposition in the Senate, including local representatives Dean Skelos, Martin Golden and Simcha Felder.

Bloomberg publicly lambasted the three state senators during a press conference on Wednesday, March 27.

“Why don’t you pick up the phone and call your state senator and ask why they allowed that child to be killed?” Bloomberg said according to reports.

Recently-released data from the Department of Transportation showed that speeding was “the greatest single factor in traffic deaths.”

If the pilot program, which requires the state’s approval, does eventually move forward, it would install 20 to 40 speed cameras at high-risk locations throughout the city.

Drivers would face a fine of $25 to $50 for speeding between 10 and 30 miles above the limit and $100 for going 30 miles above it.

 

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No criminal charges to be filed in Grand Central Parkway shooting death of Army reservist


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Facebook

A Queens grand jury concluded Thursday that there will be no criminal charges filed in connection to the death of Army reservist Noel Polanco who was shot by a police officer on the Grand Central Parkway last fall, said District Attorney Richard Brown.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly requested the grand jury investigation just days after the 22-year-old was killed during a seemingly routine traffic stop.

According to the NYPD,  around 5:15 a.m. on October 4, 2012, officers in two unmarked vehicles spotted a Honda driving erratically, weaving between lanes and speeding on the Grand Central Parkway. The car allegedly tailgated another vehicle before cutting between the unmarked police cars. The officers signaled for the Honda to pull over near the exit for LaGuardia Airport. Police approached the vehicle and one of the officers, Hassan Hamdy, fired a single round into Polanco’s abdomen. He was taken to New York Hospital Queens where he was pronounced dead at 5:50 a.m.

According to Sanford Rubenstein, the attorney for Diane DeFerrari, one of the vehicle’s passengers,  Polanco complied with the officer’s request to keep his hands visible.

“There’s no question that she [DeFerrari] saw the driver with his hands on the wheel when he was shot,” said Rubenstein.

-Reporting by Alexa Altman and Cristabelle Tumola 

 

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MTA head Joe Lhota resigns to explore mayoral run


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of MTA/Flickr

Following the MTA board’s approval of his fare hike proposal, CEO and Chairman Joe Lhota announced that he will resign, effective December 31, to consider running for New York City mayor in 2013.

At the announcement, Lhota said that he would make “no further comment” on his mayoral candidacy until early January, when he will announce his decision.

The approved fare and toll changes, which raise the MetroCard base and unlimited fares, reduce the discount, as well as increases ticket prices on the Long Island Railroad and Metro-North, and raise tolls on MTA bridges and tunnels, are Lhota’s last hoorah as the agency’s head, and could conceivably hurt his chances among voters.

Post-Sandy polls showed that the majority of New Yorkers were pleased with how the MTA responded to the superstorm and its aftermath, but voters are fed up with the frequent fare hikes.

His party could also be an obstacle.

After two decades, the city will likely have a Democratic mayor again.

A November Quinnipiac University poll found that if Lhota ran for mayor as a Republican he would lose to an unnamed Democratic candidate 60 to nine percent. Forty-five percent of those surveyed also disapproved of how Lhota is handling his job as the head of the MTA.

Current mayor Michael Bloomberg, who ran for his first two terms as a Republican before switching to an Independent before his third run, is expected to endorse City Council Speaker and Democrat Christine Quinn, and reportedly even asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to run.

Another former mayor, Rudy Giuliani, however, is expected to endorse Lhota, who served as his deputy mayor for operations. Giuliani also reportedly encouraged him to run.

The MTA chair also worked in investment banking, was an executive vice president for the Madison Square Garden Company, and served as the city’s budget director and commissioner of finance, before Governor

Andrew Cuomo appointed him as head of the transit agency in November 2011.

Before facing a Democrat, Lhota needs to win the Republican primary, where he could run against newspaper publisher Tom Allon, billionaire grocer John Catsimatidis, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, former Bronx borough president Adolfo Carrión Jr. and Doe Fund founder and president George McDonald.

The same November Quinnipiac poll also found that Lhota would lose to Carrión 62 to 11 percent.

 

NYPD, DA bust Queens gun trafficking ring


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the District Attorney's office

A three-year undercover operation into an illegal gun trafficking ring in southeast Queens netted four indictments and a fifth arrest, according to officials.

The investigation began in August 2009 after the DA’s office received a tip of the illegal operation. Over the next three years agents conducted several undercover transactions with the defendants. Twenty firearms were seized during the investigation.

“We must remain vigilant in our efforts to keep illegal firearms out of the hands of criminals and off of the streets of Queens,” said District Attorney Richard Brown.

The illicit sales regularly occurred in public places during daylight hours, Brown said. Some of the defendants also face charges of selling cocaine.

“One year ago, Det. Peter Figoski was killed by a suspect who wielded an illegal firearm. It is in his legacy and on behalf of New Yorkers’ safety that NYPD investigators work tirelessly to prevent other families from suffering the same fate,” said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

Manuel DeJesus Caballero-Castillo, 24, Emilio Lopez, 38, Miguel Angel Tatis, 50, and Jose Toledo, 26, were indicted on charges of criminal sale of a firearm, criminal possession of a weapon, criminal sale of a controlled substance and unlawful possession of pistol ammunition. If convicted, Tatis faces up to 15 years in prison and the three-co-defendants face up to seven years behind bars. Enrique Ramos was also arrested and charged with criminal sale of a controlled substance.

The investigation was conducted by the New York City Police Department’s Queens District Attorney’s Squad.

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

 

Off-duty cop shot in Bronx in stable condition, 1 suspect dead


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

An off-duty cop, shot in the chest while attempting to break up an armed robbery, fired and killed one of the suspects while two others fled.

The incident occurred at 6:30 p.m. in the Bronx when off-duty officer Ivan Marcano’s girlfriend witnessed a robbery in progress while the pair drove on Harrison Avenue.  Marcano exited the car, identified himself to the two suspects and was fired at immediately, said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

After returning to the car and on the way to the hospital, Marcano saw the suspects exit a white Mustang.  The officer got out of the car and using one hand to cover his wound while holding his gun in the other, fired at the suspects, fatally hitting one while two others fled.

Police are looking aggressively for the two other suspects, Kelly said.  A $10,000 reward is being offered for information leading to their arrest.

A .380 caliber semi-automatic gun was recovered at the scene.

An ambulance stationed near the scene of the shootout transferred the 27-year-old officer to Bronx-Lebanon Hospital where he is in stable condition.

“Another evening at a hospital,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who joined Kelly at Bronx-Lebanon.

“This is another case of guns in the wrong hands leading to violence.”

This was the 12th officer shot this year.

On Tuesday, Nassau County officer Arthur Lopez was killed on the border of Nassau and Queens.

Marcano joined the force in 2007 and is assigned to Transit District 12.

Quinn leads crowded field for 2013 mayoral nod; More than a third of voters still undecided


| brennison@queenscourier.com

mayor-budgetw

Council Speaker Christine Quinn remained at the head of the field in the 2013 mayoral race, though her once wide margin has shrunk.

NY1-Marist Poll released a poll surveying registered city voters on next year’s race for mayor with Quinn coming out on top with the support of 23 percent of Democrats. She was followed by former Comptroller Bill Thompson with 15 percent, Comptroller John Liu at 9 percent and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio with 8 percent.

With any primary at least eight months away, 37 percent of Democratic voters remain undecided.

“There’s still a long way to go before Democrats go to the polls,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.

The amount of undecided voters actually increased from the last poll in April, when under 30 percent of voters were unsure. Quinn’s lead also shrunk over the past six months. In April, she held a 20 point lead over Thompson.

Manhattan Media CEO Tom Allon received 2 percent in the poll, double his support from the first poll, though he no longer is a registered Democrat. The poll was conducted before Allon switched parties to run in a less-crowded Republican field.

Forty-six percent of voters in the city do not want another possible Republican candidate — Police Commissioner Ray Kelly — to run.

Despite rumors of former Congressmember Anthony Weiner considering a 2013 run, 58 percent of voters said they do not want him to enter the race. Weiner fared better than actor Alec Baldwin, who two-thirds of New Yorkers do not want to see run.

Whoever takes over the office will be following a mayor 12 percent of voters will believe will be remembered one of the city’s best mayors. Forty-three percent of voters believe Mayor Michael Bloomberg will leave a positive legacy and 8 percent think he’ll be considered one of the city’s worst mayors.

Mother of unarmed man killed by NYPD meets with Queens DA


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Screenshot via NY1

A day before burying her son killed by police during a traffic stop, Cecilia Reyes met today with the Queens district attorney.

Noel Polanco’s mother, along with her lawyer Sanford Rubenstein, met with DA Richard Brown for about a half hour today, according to reports, and was told the case will likely be heading to a grand jury.

“The district attorney this morning committed to a independent investigation,” Rubenstein said to reporters on the scene outside the Queens County Courthouse.

Reyes said she just wants the investigation handled correctly.

“All I want is justice,” she said. “I don’t want this to be repeated.”

Brown released a statement saying the “decisions in this case will be based solely on the facts and the law.”

Earlier this week Police Commissioner Ray Kelly also said he expected a grand jury investigation.

Polanco was fatally shot on the Grand Central Parkway last week after being pulled over for erratic driving. Reports said Polanco was shot after reaching below his seat. Diane DeFerrari, a passenger in the car, said his hands never left the wheel. No weapon was found in the car.

Ray Kelly calls for grand jury investigation into Polanco death


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

PHOTO COURTESY OF FACEBOOK

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly is requesting a grand jury investigation following last week’s fatal shooting of 22-year-old Army Reserve member Noel Polanco by a police officer.

According to the NYPD, on Thursday, October 4 around 5:15 a.m., officers in two unmarked vehicles spotted an eastbound, black 2012 Honda Fit hybrid driving erratically, weaving between lanes and speeding on the Grand Central Parkway. The car allegedly tailgated another vehicle before cutting between the unmarked police cars. The officers signaled for the Honda to pull over near the exit for LaGuardia Airport. Police approached the vehicle and fired a single round into Polanco’s abdomen. He was taken to New York Hospital Queens where he was pronounced dead at 5:50 a.m.

During the incident, two other passengers were inside the car: Diane DeFerrari, a bartender and Polanco’s neighbor, and Vanessa Rodriguez, an off-duty police officer. DeFerrari was sitting in the passenger’s seat during the incident and Rodriguez was allegedly asleep in the back seat.

According to DeFerrari’s attorney Sanford Rubenstein, Polanco complied with the officer’s request to keep his hands visible.

“There’s no question that she [DeFerrari] saw the driver with his hands on the wheel when he was shot,” said Rubenstein.

The police officer who allegedly fired the shot is Hassan Hamdy, who according to published reports was involved in a 2007 lawsuit for use of excessive force.

The district attorney released a statement, assuring the public that the event will be investigated in a “full, fair and complete” manner by the New York City Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division. The DA’s office declined any further comment.

Moez Abouelnaga, owner of Ice Lounge NYC in Astoria where Polanco worked as a hookah preparer, remembered his co-worker as a good-hearted, friendly person.

“He was a good kid,” said Abouelnaga. “Anything you asked him to do he would do it. He never asked for extra anything. He was very friendly. He got along with everyone.”

Polanco, who was known by the nickname “Sparxx,” graduated from Hillcrest High School in 2007 and was a member of the Army Reserve unit stationed in Kingston, New York. Reports say he had aspirations of joining the NYPD.

“He was a humble kid, just a humble guy,” said a friend. “He never started any problems. He never had issues. He was happy and social for someone who had just lost his grandfather and father.”

Polanco’s grandfather passed away in February and he lost his father in July, according to the friend.

On Tuesday, October 9, Senator Jose Peralta wrote a letter to the Police Commissioner on behalf of Polanco’s mother Cecilia Reyes. Peralta applauded Kelly’s push for a grand jury trial and added that full public disclosure of the facts is critical to ensure that justice is served.

Multiple attempts to reach Hamdy’s lawyer, Philip Karasyk, went unanswered as of press time.

Apple thefts increase 40 percent, says NYPD


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Apple

As New Yorkers hit the streets with their new iPhone 5s, the NYPD is warning about the increase in Apple thefts.

Data shows that between January 1 and September 23 of this year, incidents involving stolen Apple products increased 40 percent over the period from last year, exceeding the overall increase in crime. In total, there were 11,447 incidents.

Along with reminding the public to be more cautious and aware of their surroundings when carrying electronic devices, the NYPD is now registering them free of charge.

On Friday, September 21, the day the iPhone 5 went on sale, the NYPD registered and engraved the new phones at 21 stores where they were being sold, free of charge. Anyone can also bring their devices to a local police station and have them engraved with a unique serial number.

Though engraving enables the NYPD to trace and indentify stolen property more easily, a better solution may be to give cell phones International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) numbers, so when a device is stolen, cell phone stores can permanently disable them, rendering them worthless.

This April, Senator Chuck Schumer and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly announced that major U.S. cell phone carriers and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) agreed to set up an integrated database of IMEI numbers.

But, according to the NYPD, iPhones and iPads are not part of this agreement.

 

A public service announcement reminding people to be aware of their surroundings when carrying electronic devices on the subway. (Video courtesy of the NYPD)

Gunman shot dead after killing former colleague near Empire State Building; 9 others wounded


| brennison@queenscourier.com

-2147460902

Two are dead — including the gunman — and nine bystanders wounded at a shootout outside the Empire State Building.

Recently fired Jeffrey Johnson, 53, stationed himself outside his former employers, Hazan Imports, and fatally wounded a 41-year-old former colleague.

After opening fire on the victim, Johnson fled northbound; a construction worker spotted him and alerted officers near the Empire State Building.

As the cops approached the suspect, Johnson fired at them.  The police returned fire, killing Johnson, said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

“This is a terrible tragedy and there’s no doubt the situation would have been even more tragic of not for the extraordinary acts of heroism actions of some police officers,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said about two hours after the shooting.

The nine victims were all taken to area hospitals and are expected to survive, the mayor said.

It is unclear at the moment if the victims were hit by the police or the suspect.

The disgruntled former employee was let go about a year ago from the women’s apparel company.

 

 

 

Queens gun buyback brings in more than 500 weapons


| tpetropoulosedit@queenscourier.com

File photo

With no questions asked, hundreds of people walked into New Jerusalem Baptist Church in Jamaica and turned in 509 guns over the weekend.

The gun buyback program, the first since 2009, netted an AK 47, tec-9, 245 revolvers, 168 semi-automatic pistols and a Calico 9mm with a 50 round capacity magazine.

Participants received $200 for handguns and $20 for rifles and shotguns in exchange for their weapons.

“I’m excited about [the gun buyback program], not in a good way, because I wish all these guns were not on the street, but I am excited that they are coming in,” said State Senator Malcolm Smith, who co-sponsored the program with Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and District Attorney Richard A. Brown. “With the feedback we had today, I am encouraged that the people are starting to say ‘You know what, enough is enough, I am going to be part of the solution.’”

As of August 5, shootings have seen a nine percent increase in New York City this year compared to last year, with 882 shooting incidents so far, according to NYPD data.

“I am all for this gun buyback program,” said Donna Hood, a member of the New Jerusalem Baptist Church who lost a son, Kevin Lamont Miller Jr., to a stray bullet in Jamaica in 2009. “I still have a son to raise, so if this program will make it a little safer for kids that we still have on the streets, that’s alright with me.”

NY voters split on stop-and-frisk, against soda ban


| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

New Yorkers dislike of the mayor’s proposed soda ban has grown, while city voters support of stop-and-frisk is split along racial lines, according to a new poll.

Half of New York City voters questioned in a recent Quinnipiac poll said they disapproved of the controversial police practice, though a large disparity persisted between black and white voters.

More than two thirds of black voters (69 percent) opposed stop-and-frisks, while 57 percent of white voters supported it. Fifty-three percent of Hispanic voters also approved the practice.

Though there was a difference in support of stop-and-frisk, all races approved of the job Police Commissioner Ray Kelly is doing.

The poll was conducted between August 8 and 12 with 1,298 New York City voters surveyed on land lines and cell phones. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 2.7 percentage points.

Voters are against Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to ban sugary beverages over 16 ounces with 54 percent opposing it and 42 percent in support. The opposition has grown since a June poll found 51 percent against the plan and 46 percent for it.

“New Yorkers are smart enough to make their own choices about what to eat and drink without government help,” said New Yorkers for Beverage Choices spokesperson, Eliot Hoff.

Bloomberg’s push to make baby formula less available to new mothers was opposed by 56 percent of voters with just 24 percent in favor of it.

“Voters disagree with Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s push to increase breast-feeding and to limit the size of sugary drinks, but they like the idea of cracking down on alcohol abuse,” Carroll said. “Overall, New Yorkers give Hizzoner good grades on public-health as they reject the criticism that it’s ‘nanny government.’”

There is also strong support from New Yorkers (73-20 percent) to provide employees sick days, a plan Council Speaker Christine Quinn said she is not ready to bring to a vote.