Tag Archives: Rochdale

Queens Library in Rochdale celebrates opening of Adult Learning Center

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Queens Library


The ribbon has finally been cut at the Adult Learning Center at the Queens Library in Rochdale in celebration of the $5.18 million in expansions made over the past three years.

Elected officials and community leaders joined in the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sept. 25 to officially open the center.

The Adult Learning Center has been expanded to more than double the existing space to accommodate the hundreds of adult students it serves every year. The center is one of seven in the Queens Library system that offers programs for adults who are learning to read, learning English as a second language and taking pre-GED classes.

“The Queens Library is a vital cultural, informational and educational resource for the entire community. Its Adult Learner Program has aided countless men and women by helping them develop the basic literacy and language skills they need to perform routine functions, achieve professional advancement and gain knowledge,” Councilman Ruben Wills said. “I am honored to have contributed to the modernization and expansion of the Rochdale Adult Learning Center so it may enhance the program’s efficiency and productivity, and better serve my constituents’ needs.”

All seven of the centers are equipped with a full-time professional staff and volunteers who tutor literacy groups and facilitate English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) conversation groups. The centers offer basic adult education classes, video groups, writing groups and technology-assisted instruction.

“The expanded Adult Learning Center at Queens Library at Rochdale Village is an inspiring space in which to learn. It will encourage even more adults to take the next step toward improving their English fluency or to work toward a high school diploma. It is a wonderful gift to the community,” said Bridget Quinn-Carey, interim president and CEO of Queens Library.

The renovations expanded over 1,700 square feet to include more classroom space, more computers and listening stations, and more study and conversation group space. Additionally, the roof, heating ventilation and air conditioning, and fire alarm equipment were replaced with much of the funding provided by Wills and the City Council, Mayor Bill De Blasio, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and state Assembly member Vivian Cook. They are hoping to build new handicapped-accessible restrooms shortly.

“Learning is a lifelong process, and the expansion of the Rochdale Village Library’s Adult Learning Center will enhance literacy of adult students every year. The expansion has transformed this library into one that is befitting of a world-class library system and will serve as a strong example of how public investment can directly impact neighborhoods and uplift communities,” Katz said.


Councilman Wills once again indicted on corruption charges

| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

File photo

Councilman Ruben Wills is racking up quite a rap sheet.

The city councilman, who had already been indicted, was indicted again on Tuesday for charges alleging that he filed false financial disclosure reports. He pleaded not guilty.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and state Comptroller Thomas Di Napoli charged Wills with allegedly filing false documents about his finances to the New York City Conflicts of Interest Board. Elected officials in New York City must file these documents for public scrutiny and to guard against any potential conflicts between their personal and city business.

“Submitting false documents to the New York City Conflicts of Interest Board is a serious crime,” Schneiderman said.  “My office’s partnership with the comptroller is designed to combat corruption in the public sector, and we will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that the public trust is not undercut by public servants who are not truthful in their disclosures.”

Schneiderman and DiNapoli charged Wills with five counts of the class E felony of offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree. Schneiderman and DiNapoli claim that from 2011 to 2013 Wills purposely omitted certain financial dealings. If convicted, Wills faces up to four years in prison.

And the history between the state attorney and Wills goes back to 2014.

Back in May 2014, Wills, who represents the 28th District, which includes Jamaica, Richmond Hill, Rochdale and South Ozone Park, was indicted on charges by Schneiderman for allegedly stealing public campaign funds and using the cash for a Louis Vuitton handbag and shopping sprees at Nordstrom, Century 21 and other locales. He’s also accused of taking a $33,000 member item from since-convicted former state Sen. Shirley Huntley for his fake charity but pocketing most of it. Those charges are pending.


Councilman Ruben Wills arrested on corruption charges

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Updated 2:25 p.m. 

Councilman Ruben Wills was arrested Wednesday after a corruption investigation discovered he allegedly stole public campaign funds and state grant money.

The Queens politician, who represents the 28th District, which includes Jamaica, Richmond Hill, Rochdale and South Ozone Park, was indicted on charges of grand larceny, scheme to defraud, falsifying business records and offering a false instrument for filing, according to the indictment.

Jelani Mills, a relative who works for Wills, and allegedly helped him redirect some of the cash, was also indicted Wednesday on charges of grand larceny and falsifying business records.

Wills is accused of stealing from both the Campaign Finance Board (CFB) and the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS), according to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office.

He is charged with redirecting $11,500 in matching funds he received from the CFB during his 2009 City Council campaign–with the help of Mills–to New York 4 Life, a nonprofit Wills started, and using the money for personal purchases, according to court documents. Wills allegedly bought a $750 Louis Vuitton handbag at Macy’s, among other items.

The councilman had been under investigation by the attorney general for $33,000 in state funds provided through a grant that was unaccounted for after it was given to New York 4 Life, according to published reports and the attorney general’s office.

Those funds were earmarked by former state Sen. Shirley Huntley while Wills was serving as her chief of staff.

New York 4 Life signed a contract with OCFS to receive that money, promising to conduct four public service projects, officials said, but the nonprofit allegedly only came through on one program that cost about $14,000. Wills is accused of pocketing the remaining $19,000 and using it for political and personal expenses, including purchases at Nordstrom’s and Century 21.

Huntley was arrested in a unrelated case in August 2012 and later pleaded guilty for covering up money funneled through a nonprofit she helped establish. It was revealed last May that Huntley had secretly recorded the conversations of seven elected officials, including Wills, while she was still in office at the request of federal prosecutors.

“The City Council takes these troubling allegations from the New York State Attorney General very seriously and will be reviewing them thoroughly, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said in a statement. “New Yorkers expect and deserve a government that is ethical and responsible and that is the standard we’re seeking to uphold.”

Wills, who was first elected to the Council in a 2010 special election, has been prohibited from doling out member items, or city funds, to his district, the Queens delegation chair and City Council speaker’s office will now designate them for him, reports and a source said.

He has also agreed to give up his chairmanship of the Council’s subcommittee on drug abuse, according to published reports.

Wills, who did not enter a plea and was released without bail, said Wednesday he had no plans to resign, reports said.


City cashes out over 2010 blizzard

| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

New York City is still settling with residents who suffered personal injuries or property damages during the blizzard of 2010 – and the costs continue to snowball.

Across the five boroughs, the city has already reached settlements on 620 claims, doling out $1,855,152.53 due to damages its agencies caused during the snow storm.

Queens has had the most claims settled with 224, and residents have received $567,780.49 in payments thus far – the second highest total behind Brooklyn. The borough has accounted for 36.1 percent of the claims and 30.6 percent of the settlement money.

The highest single claim in Queens was $45,000, paid out to Alethia Cassimy of Rochdale, who suffered multiple body injuries, including a laceration to her lip, after she was struck by a garbage truck/snow plow on December 30, 2010. A similar incident, during which a sanitation truck “backed into” Elmhurst resident Ana Herrera, cost the city $25,000. Herrera suffered a fractured arm, as well as injuries to her neck, back and knee.

According to a spokesperson from the office of City Comptroller John Liu, the totals are not finalized, as many claims have yet to be settled.

“These claims are among the highest for any storm,” said Liu. “There is still a cloud of additional claims hanging over the city, but the silver lining is that agencies have learned from last year’s blizzard and seem better prepared.”