Tag Archives: Rockaways

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Wednesday: Mostly cloudy with a chance of a thunderstorm and a chance of rain in the afternoon. High of 77. Winds from the West at 5 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 50%. Wednesday night: Overcast with thunderstorms and rain showers, then a chance of rain after midnight. Fog overnight. Low of 52. Winds from the SE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 60% with rainfall amounts near 0.3 in. possible.

EVENT OF THE DAY: The Big Thing

At the Laughing Devil Comedy Club , get the New York area’s  freshest jokes by comedians vying to be the next big thing and become a club regular. The show also features some special guest headliners. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Council Speaker Christine Quinn blasts Councilman Dan Halloran’s ‘arrogance’

City Councilman Dan Halloran was a no-show Tuesday for the first council meeting since he was pinched by the feds last week, as Speaker Christine Quinn eviscerated him for sending out a “stupid” press release. Read more: New York Daily News

New York City councilman proposes crackdown on costumed characters

New York City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. introduced legislation Tuesday that would either ban or introduce tight regulations on costumed characters in New York City. Read more: CBS New York

Temptress who swindled elderly Queens man arrested after 6 years on lam

A temptress on the lam for six years after she was convicted of milking an elderly Queens man out of his life savings has been busted halfway across the country, authorities said Tuesday. Read more: New York Daily News

Quinn suffers small drop poll shows, but still outpaces opponents

A couple of weeks of constant battering cost City Council Speaker Christine Quinn a few points in the latest mayoral poll. Read more: New York Post

FEMA: Building a sea wall would change home elevation requirements

The community board in the Rockaways announced Tuesday that the city will spend $4 million on each of the five new lifeguard stands planned for this summer and $2 million on each of two public bathrooms to be built on Rockaway Beach. Read more: NY1

Obama budget targets millionaires, replaces sequester cuts

The White House on Wednesday proposed a budget that sharply trims the U.S. deficit over three years by forcing millionaires to pay more in taxes and enacting spending cuts that replace the “sequester” reductions that went into place last month. Read more: Reuters

Rockaway hockey rink set for repair


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Mike Leahy

A Rockaway roller hockey rink is getting some help from the Parks Department after damage from Sandy nearly put a summer league on ice.

Waves pummeled the boards on the seaside rink near Beach 108th Street, which underwent renovations only a few years ago. The 20-year-old rink was not completely destroyed, but because the boards and other safety walls were gone, it poses a risk to younger players.

“The [asphalt] surface of the rink is okay,” said Rockies Hockey Commissioner Mike Leahy. “But I never would let a kid skate on there.”

Leahy said he’s been working with the Parks Department on getting the rink repaired in time for the summer league, which has players ranging in age from four to adult. But until recently he hadn’t heard much in terms of fixing the rink.

In the next week, however, he’ll meet with a Parks official to discuss how to fix the rink for this summer and improve it for the long run, said both Leahy and a Parks spokesperson.

Damage to the rink was one of several public facility casualties between Beach 87th and 108th Streets, according to the Parks spokesperson. There are no immediate plans to rebuild any of those amenities, the rep said.

Originally, Leahy said, Parks told him he’d have to raise money for repairs himself if he wanted the league to start rolling this summer.

“Up until this point we’ve been in limbo,” he said, adding Parks told him about three weeks ago that “we could make any repairs we could do.”

The league commissioner called Councilmember Eric Ulrich’s office to seek help after the talks seemed to go nowhere. Ulrich, who before the storm had set aside $300,000 to completely refurbish the rink, was able to arrange for Leahy to work directly with Parks officials.

Leahy said he’s happy to start somewhere in discussions, and has high hopes in the meantime that players of all ages will be dropping puck soon.

“I’m going up the ladder,” he said, “and they’re being thoughtful. So far I’m happy. I’m always optimistic until I hear otherwise.”

 

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Grant to replace books at Sandy-damaged libraries


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Queens Public Library

A nonprofit is helping Queens Library get back on its feet by putting books back on its shelves.

The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City is giving a $250,000 grant to the Queens Library Foundation to replace more than 140,000 books and other library materials that were damaged by Sandy.

“Our public libraries provide essential resources to New York City residents,” said Megan Sheekey, president of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. “We are grateful to the Queens Library System for its dedication to keeping its doors open in impacted neighborhoods and serving community members.”

Library branches in communities such as Howard Beach, Broad Channel and the Rockaways were particularly damaged from flooding and are still trying to get back up on their feet.

The Broad Channel Library just reopened in early March. During Sandy, two feet of water inundated the building, ruining 16,000 books and ultimately costing $940,000 in damage.

Other branches have yet to reopen. During repairs, temporary facilities are serving the community.

“The Rockaways and Broad Channel lean on their community libraries for computer and broadband access, education, schoolwork support, job skills training, consumer health resources and their daily information needs. We are so grateful that the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City will help Queens Library restock the empty shelves and provide the critical information that will help the community rebuild,” said Thomas W. Galante, president and CEO of Queens Library.

Officials say a total of $2.2 million in books, DVDs and magazines must be replaced, including picture books and homework help materials for children, large print books, books in Russian, Spanish and other languages, materials for job-seekers who want to learn more about employment trends and build their skills, and so much more.

In addition, to the Mayor’s Fund grant, $1 million in additional grants have already been raised for replacement costs.

 

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Rockaway residents take to City Hall, demand say in Sandy rebuilding


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Terence M. Cullen

By day 143, Rockaway residents had had enough.

Scores traveled to the steps of City Hall on Saturday, March 23 to call on Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the city to help residents rebuild after Sandy.

Shoulder to shoulder with elected officials and candidates for mayor and borough president, resident after resident told personal stories of their prolonged recovery and demanded a say in how the peninsula is rebuilt.

“Now, as community residents of the Rockaway peninsula and Broad Channel, we demand to always have our voices heard on what goes on with all future projects, and most importantly, to be part of the process when implementing them to protect our community from another Sandy, or any type of possible future disasters,” said Danny Ruscillo, president of the 100th Precinct Community Council. Ruscillo held a sign that became one of the chants during the hour-long press conference: “United we stand. Divided we drown.”

Senator Charles Schumer recently secured money to rebuild New York beaches, and take measures to prevent flooding.

 

The Army Corps of Engineers, which has been conducting surveys on protecting the beach-front community for more than a decade, recently said the study would take at least another year-and-a-half.

But residents like Margaret Wagner think that’s too long. Wagner said she took the trip to lower Manhattan while her husband was at home putting up sheetrock in their Broad Channel home.

“We want the studies to end tomorrow,” said Wagner. “Give us a plan today. Not a year-and-a-half from now.”
John Cori and Eddie Pastore, who run Friends of Rockaway Beach and organized the City Hall rally, have long campaigned to build better beach protection.

This was not the first time Rockaway residents have criticized Bloomberg and his administration for what they believed was a delayed reaction to the storm. On a visit to Breezy Point in November, Bloomberg was lambasted by a resident; spectators at the St. Patrick’s Day parade on March 2 booed him when he marched.

Councilmember Eric Ulrich and State Senator Joseph Addabbo both said it was crucial that those who live there have the final say in how the communities are rebuilt.

“These residents have to live with what’s left behind,” Addabbo said. “Let’s get to work for these people.”

“We heard about the federal money that Senator Schumer was able to secure and we’re very grateful for that,” Ulrich said. “But the community needs to be kept in the loop as to how that money is going to be spent.”

 

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Councilmember Eric Ulrich

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Thursday: Overcast with snow, then rain in the afternoon. High of 39 with a windchill as low as 21F. Windy. Winds from the North at 25 to 30 mph with gusts to 45 mph. Chance of precipitation 70% . Thursday night: Overcast with snow and rain, then snow after midnight. Low of 32 with a windchill as low as 21. Windy. Winds from the North at 20 to 25 mph with gusts to 40 mph. Chance of snow 80% with accumulations up to 2 in. possible.

EVENT OF THE DAY: World premiere of Robert Wuhl’s Hit-Lit

At the Queens Theatre on Thursday, March 7, world famous playwright Robert Wuhl debuts HIT-LIT, a mistaken-identity screwball comedy about an ambitious young editor who is searching for the next best seller. Runs until March 17. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Broken Muni-Meters are giving Queens drivers more headaches

Finding a parking spot in some Queens neighborhoods is a tough enough task. But now drivers say they are battling testy Muni-Meters that cheat them out of precious minutes and reject their coins and credit cards. Read more: New York Daily News

Sandy-damaged coastal communities prepare for flooding as winter storm approaches tri-state

Already-battered Tri-State Area coastal communities are dealing with another hit in the form of a winter storm packing rain, snow and high winds. Read more: CBS New York

NYPD sitting on cash for surveillance cameras in Rockaways, stakeholders charge 

A plan to install extra sets of police eyes in the Rockaways has been blinded by red tape, local stakeholders say. Read more: New York Daily News

Cranked-up earbuds next on Mayor Bloomberg’s health hit list

After launching campaigns against the Big Gulp, “big” salt and “big” junk food, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is embarking on a new target. Read more: CBS New York

Police suspect flying object spotted near JFK was model plane 

As the FBI continues to look into a report of an unmanned aircraft spotted near JFK Airport on Monday, police think it may have been a model plane. Read more NY1

NY police eye return of crash suspect held in Pa.

Police in New York were awaiting the return of a man arrested in Pennsylvania in connection with a gruesome car crash that killed a pregnant woman and her husband on their way to a hospital. Read more: AP

Op-Ed: Recovery through economic activity and investment


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

BY ASSEMBLYMEMBER PHILLIP GOLDFEDER

Last year, the legislature passed a bill, as the first step in the process to amending the state constitution, allowing enhanced gaming in up to seven locations across the state. While this was only the beginning, it was a huge victory for Queens families who have already benefited from the economic development and jobs created by Resorts World at Aqueduct and realize the potential for growth. In his annual state of the state address, Governor Andrew Cuomo shared a vision for the future of our state and I look forward to our continued partnership and collaboration in an effort to boost every community across the state.

In southern Queens and Rockaway, Sandy has left a path of unimaginable devastation and destruction and it will take the coordinated efforts of the public and private sector to fully recover. Now, more than ever, we need to find new and creative ways to help our small businesses to create good-paying jobs and rejuvenate our local economy. Creating a full-scale, enhanced gaming casino at Resorts World would not only increase revenues for the community and the state, but the impact would be felt immediately in terms of economic activity and job creation for southern Queens and Rockaway families.

Expanding gaming also provides opportunities for continued investment in southern Queens and Rockaway infrastructure. I continue to be a staunch advocate for the complete restoration of the abandoned Rockaway Beach Rail Line, as it would be the right solution to not only encourage economic development but to increase transit options for all of Queens’ families. Created at the turn of the century, the Rockaway Beach Rail Line, also known as White Pot Junction, was owned and operated by the Long Island Rail Road. Strategically placed within a major network of trains throughout New York City, the rail line provided residents with safe, affordable and expedient access to other parts of Queens and the rest of the city.

There is no need to look any farther than Resorts World at Aqueduct, a proven location for enhanced gaming and reliable community partner. Since their first year anniversary, Resorts World has set records in slot machine gaming, beating out the casinos in Atlantic City and Las Vegas, contributing millions of dollars towards the education of our children. Further, Resorts World has been a valuable neighbor that has worked hand-in-hand with elected leaders, the NYPD and our community to ensure a seamless development at the Aqueduct facility. Resorts World is the perfect example of partnership and we need to give them the tools necessary to continue to succeed so that our families and small businesses may continue to recover and become even more resilient.

In addition to their success as a casino, Resorts World is committed to a long term partnership with our community and has continued their positive relationship through vital investments in our local organizations and standing on the front lines of Sandy relief and recovery. Given the right tools, Resorts World will continue to exceed every expectation, expand on our local workforce and stimulate our local economy, in addition to creating opportunities for the continued success and recovery of Queens.

Goldfeder represents the 23rd Assembly District including Ozone Park, Lindenwood, Howard Beach, Broad Channel and the Rockaways.

 

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Schumer pushes for co-op, condo Sandy relief


| mchan@queenscourier.com

New York’s senior senator has joined the ranks of leaders pushing for relief to storm-damaged co-ops and condos.

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer penned a letter to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) last Wednesday asking the agency to establish Sandy relief program guidelines for co-ops and condos.

Co-op and condo owners currently cannot receive Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants for Sandy-inflicted damages because they are categorized as “business associations,” according to elected federal officials. The title makes them eligible for federal loans but not grants.

“After Sandy, FEMA was able to help many communities. However, due to inflexible bureaucratic rules, co-op and condo homeowners were left in the wake,” Schumer said.

The Stafford Act, which governs how FEMA responds to major disasters, does not include the word “co-op” in the law, according to Congressmember Steve Israel. But there is no statute that purposefully bans co-op owners from being eligible for grants, a privilege given to homeowners.

Schumer called on HUD officials to use Community Development Block Grants Disaster Recovery funds to help co-op and condo owners repair and rebuild.

HUD allocated $5.4 billion to the recovery program early last week. New Yorkers are eligible to receive about $3.5 billion of that total.

Some Queens co-ops suffered $1 million in damages, including Cryder Point Co-ops, a waterfront community which has to repair its shambled pier.

More than half of the total buildings in Glen Oaks Village endured “moderate to severe shingle loss,” according to Bob Friedrich, the co-op’s president. The co-op will have to shell out $250,000 for infrastructural damage.

And nearly 3,000 Mitchell-Lama co-ops in the Rockaways are forced to shoulder repair costs, said Dolores Orr, co-op owner and president of the Rockaway Beach Civic Association.

“It is astonishing to me that residential co-op buildings are not being afforded any financial assistance in the recovery from Sandy,” she said. “We are homeowners just like those who live in … family houses.”

 

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Doe Fund cleans up Broad Channel


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

Broad Channel is seeing blue.

Nine workers from the Doe Fund, dubbed “the men in blue,” will help clean up a two-mile stretch of Cross Bay Boulevard in Broad Channel, as the island still continues to recover nearly four months after Sandy hit.

The cleanup effort, which officially began on Friday, February 15, will run from the foot of the Joseph P. Addabbo Memorial Bridge to the American Legion Post 1404.

The Doe Fund gives homeless men and women a second chance by providing jobs and starting a new life. Staten Island, Coney Island and the Rockaways have been other areas the Doe Fund has cleaned up in wake of the storm. The men will pick up the roadside trash and haul it on to Department of Sanitation trucks.

“The garbage and the litter and the debris are still here,” said Councilmember Eric Ulrich. “People are going to be so impressed. They’re [the workers] going to do a top-notch job.”

Ulrich said he reached out to Doe Fund chair George McDonald two weeks ago to help clean up Broad Channel’s main thoroughfare, which is still littered with debris. Flanked by Doe Fund members and representatives from the National Park Service and the Department of Sanitation, Ulrich said the “Men in Blue” would be on Cross Bay Boulevard, picking up trash until the job is done. The goal, he added, is to have Cross Bay back to its pre-storm look, if not better.

Cross Bay Boulevard is the first view of the Rockaways visitors get and the road needed to keep that vista positive, Ulrich said.

The relationship between the Doe Fund and south Queens goes back to long before the storm, according to Community Board 14 chair Dolores Orr. The organization helps clean up Beach 116th street, an economic hub in Rockaway, every spring, Orr said.

“It’s equally important for the residents trying to recover themselves,” Orr said.

McDonald, who’s also running as a Republican for mayor, said the men and women of the organization were hard workers and dedicated to getting their life back on track.

“It’s on behalf of all the citizens of New York that we come here and help clean up,” McDonald said. “We are thrilled to be able to give back. I know this partnership is going to do great things for this community and I thank Councilmember Ulrich for thinking of us.”

 

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New policy forces mentally ill out of adult homes


| mchan@queenscourier.com

DSC_0085

Adult homes in Queens are now forced to evict hundreds of mentally ill residents and shut out new entrants under a new state policy.

Privately run adult homes in the state, including nine in Queens and nearly 50 in the city, will have to cut their mental health population down to 25 percent, according to regulation put in place by Governor Andrew Cuomo last month.

The homes have less than 120 days to move out residents into smaller supportive housing units where they will live on their own.

“Displacing these residents without the proper preparations for their new living will have an adverse effect on patient care and on the communities they will be living in,” said Assemblymember Phil Goldfeder.

The new rule is expected to throw adult homes into financial turmoil, leaders in the field said.

“No assisted living facility with mentally ill populations can remain economically viable,” said Jeffrey Edelman of the New York State Center for Assisted Living. “If this radical social experiment to force the seriously mentally ill to live on their own fails, residents will never be able to return to their adult home because we will be out of business.”

Goldfeder said Queens adult homes, most of which are located in the Rockaways, are also the source of hundreds of local jobs.

“At the end of the day, we have to do what’s in the best interest of the patients and we have to think about the community at large,” he said.

Queens Adult Care Center, one of the borough’s affected adult homes, will have to boot 90 of its 300 mentally ill residents, according to chief administrator Leon Hofman. They would be without regular medication and constant supervision outside of their homes, he said.

“I’m concerned some of these people will not have a place to live or if they’ll make it,” Hofman said.

Jonathan Gaska, district manager of Community Board 14, said he fears some residents will end up freezing to death or wandering without supervision to nearby oceans.

“We didn’t agree with the policy,” he said. “It’s not fair to them, and the state will have to answer for that. I’m not sure they thought that through.”

Cuomo’s efforts come after a similar 2009 ruling by a Brooklyn federal judge who said large adult homes in the city violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

AFFECTED ADULT HOMES IN QUEENS:

  • Sanford Manor Home Care Agency in Flushing
  • Queens Adult Care Center in Elmhurst
  • Belle Harbor Manor
  • Long Island Living Center
  • New Haven Manor Home for Adults
  • Rockaway Manor Home for Adults
  • Seaview Manor Home for Adults
  • Wavecrest Home for Adults
  • Surfside Manor Home for Adults

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Friday: Overcast with rain, then snow and rain in the afternoon. High of 39 with a windchill as low as 19F. Windy. Winds from the ENE at 15 to 25 mph with gusts to 40 mph. Chance of precipitation 100% with accumulations up to 1 in. possible. Friday night: Overcast with snow. Low of 23F with a windchill as low as 7. Windy. Winds from the North at 25 to 30 mph with gusts to 55 mph. Chance of snow 100% with accumulations up to 11 in. possible.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Survey

In honor of Valentine’s Day, LaGuardia Performing Arts Center will present SURVEY on February 8. SURVEY tells the story of Tom Lawrence, a romantically clueless talk show host whose fiancée leaves him. Baffled, Tom turns to the unlikeliest sources for help-three ex-girlfriends. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Airlines announce widespread flight cancellations ahead of winter storm

Hundreds of flights across the country have already been canceled or delayed ahead of the snowstorm anticipated to pound the Tri-State Area on Friday. Read more: CBS New York

Transit changes due to potential blizzard

The big storm heading for the Northeast is already disrupting rail travel. Read more: ABC New York

Queens man pleads guilty to Federal Reserve bomb plot

The Bangladeshi national said that he wanted to “destroy America.” Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, 21, pleaded guilty Thursday to attempting to bomb the New York Federal Reserve Bank, resolving to commit mass murder last October, according to the FBI. Read more: Queens Courier

Rockaway residents worry outsiders could take over rebuilding process

There’s no shortage of people interested in helping Rockaway residents figure out how to rebuild their storm-battered neighborhoods. Read more: New York Daily News

150-foot asteroid will buzz Earth, but no need to duck

150-foot-wide asteroid will come remarkably close to Earth next week, even closer than high-flying communication and weather satellites. It will be the nearest known flyby for an object of this size. Read more: AP

Commerce Secretary tours Sandy-damaged Rockaways, promising to get businesses back on their feet


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

Assistant Secretary of Commerce Matt Erskine promises he will take what he saw in the Rockaways back to Washington, D.C. to ensure south Queens continue to get relief as it still reels from Sandy.

On Thursday, January 30 Erskine, along with elected officials, toured the still-devastated areas of the peninsula — including the Madelaine Chocolate Factory, one of the largest small businesses in Queens with 425 employees, which was heavily damaged by the storm. Erskine and the politicians applauded the staff at Madelaine for its efforts to get back to work.

“The president made clear that this was to be an all hands on deck effort,” Erskine said. “And that he was committed to making sure that we at the federal government are going to be with you every step of the way, and we’re going to look for new ways to work more effectively with our state and local partners to get this job done and get it done correctly.”

The visit came just days after Congress approved the second part of a $60 billion Sandy aid package almost three months after the storm swept through the area. Erskine, speaking before local leaders at Vetro in Howard Beach, which was also damaged in the storm, promised President Barack Obama was committed that everyone, from every agency, work together like never before to ensure the Rockaways get all the relief that’s needed.

Congressmember Gregory Meeks, who toured the area with Erskine, said he too had pressured the president for continued relief.

“Right before we went in for the luncheon on Inauguration Day,” Meeks said. “I mentioned ‘we’re still hurting in the Rockaways.’ And he says ‘I know, and I won’t forget it.’”

About 40 percent of the small businesses in the Rockaways will probably never reopen, said Jack Friedman, executive director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce. The goal of chamber members, along with local leaders, is to help as many businesses as possible get back on their feet.

“We see that same thing happening all over the Rockaway Peninsula, all over Howard Beach,” Friedman said. “Small business people trying to get through the loss of their homes, the loss of their possessions, the loss of their businesses, looking for help and support from government, private industry, from not-for-profits, just so they can go back to do what they do, which is employ a lot of our residents, make this borough work.”

Newly-sworn in Congressmember Hakeem Jeffries, who represents Howard Beach, Lindenwood and Ozone Park, said it was a top priority to get as many businesses back up and running.

“I’m particularly pleased that [Erskine]’s here today because essentially this is day one of the rebuilding and recovery process from the standpoint that the legislation was just signed into law,” Jeffries said. “And that should open up a level of resources for the city of New York, and the state of New York that will make its way to people who are in distress.”

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

 TODAY’S FORECAST

Monday: Overcast with snow, then ice pellets and snow in the afternoon. High of 37 with a windchill as low as 25F. Winds from the SW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation 80% . Monday night: Overcast with rain, then a chance of rain after midnight. Low of 37. Winds from the SW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 60%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Repetition in Design

Repetition in Design, on display at the Queens Botanical Garden, is a series of oil paintings on canvas by QBG’s Supervising Museum Instructor Gennadyi Gurman. Some of these pieces are influenced by the way the 8-bit video games from the 1980s looked, also from cartoons; but all show a bright color contrast. Until April 15 and free with admission. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Four-alarm fire guts commercial building in Queens

Business owners in Queens are assessing the damage after a fast-moving four-alarm fire ripped through a commercial building late Sunday. Read more: ABC New York

NYC school bus companies, union to meet Monday

New York City school bus companies and union leaders are to meet Monday in an effort to resolve the strike. Read more: Fox New York

City plans to put new schools in two struggling Queens high schools

Two struggling Queens high schools could soon become a lot more crowded. Read more: New York Daily News

MoMA PS1 wants to build performance dome in the Rockaways

Plans are in the works to bring a unique performance dome to the Rockaways. Read more: NY1

Schumer: Federal Sandy aid bill funds Army Corps’ projects on city coastlines

The U.S. Senate is set to vote on a Hurricane Sandy aid bill on Monday evening, and Sen. Charles Schumer said Sunday the bill would provide more than $1 billion to protect the coastlines of the city and Long Island. Read more: NY1

Police chiefs from Newtown, Aurora to meet with Obama

President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will meet today with law enforcement groups and police chiefs from several communities impacted by mass shootings to discuss the administration’s intensifying push to reduce gun violence. Read more: CBS News

Bipartisan Senate group proposes immigration plan

A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators has agreed on a framework for immigration reform that would provide a “path to citizenship” for those in the United States illegally but only after measures are put in place to secure borders and track undocumented immigrants. Read more: Reuters

Cuomo budget has $21 billion for Sandy relief


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Sandy, education and economic development were top priorities in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive budget, but despite the unexpected costs from the storm, the proposed plan eliminates a $1.3 billion gap with no new taxes or fees.

“By making difficult decisions over the past two years we have brought stability, predictability, and common sense to the state’s budget process,” said Cuomo.

“Sandy caused widespread destruction and as we begin the daunting task of rebuilding in southern Queens and the Rockaways, the governor’s proposal focuses on our needs by including $21 billion for disaster-related recovery, rebuilding and mitigation,” said Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder.

But the budget doesn’t stop at Sandy.

It increases education aid by $889 million, or an average of more than $300 per student, raises the minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $8.75, and reforms the Workers’ Compensation system, saving more than $900 million.

In addition to money set aside for Sandy relief, another part of the budget is also good news for the borough.

The plan extends a film tax credit, which is set to expire at the end of 2014, for five more years.

“New York’s film tax credit has made our film industry an economic success story during an otherwise difficult economy,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris. “As the home for some of New York’s largest film production studios, western Queens has earned its reputation as Hollywood East thanks to this incentive program. I applaud Governor Cuomo for his ongoing support of the film tax credit and look forward to seeing western Queens continue to benefit from this important job-creating tool.”

On Tuesday Cuomo also announced a new website, Openbudget.ny.gov, which gives the public access to the state’s budget.

“Open Budget is bringing the people back into government by taking budget data out of government file cabinets and making it available to the public for the first time in an easy-to-access, downloadable form. This will facilitate research, analysis and innovation,” said Cuomo.

James Sanders sworn in to Senate


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of James Sanders' Office

Former Councilmember James Sanders graduated to the State Senate in style.

Last Thursday, January 17, Sanders was sworn in at York College, surrounded by a “rainbow coalition of people” – nearly 300 of his constituents.

“We had a little bit of everybody who makes up our district,” said Sanders about the event. “Now, the goal will be to keep this grand coalition together; to ensure that all of the people who were out are allowed to partake in what our district has.”

Sanders plans to focus first on “fighting for our neighbors in the Rockaways,” and ensure the safety of those still struggling after Sandy. Despite his new position, he still intends to keep a very “vigorous” schedule, working with his constituents face-to-face.

“The people hired me not to simply be a creature of Albany, they hired me to come and meet them,” he said. “How are you going to serve the people if you don’t even know the people?”

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Tuesday: Mostly cloudy with snow showers in the morning, then overcast with snow showers. High of 28 with a windchill as low as 9. Breezy. Winds from the WNW at 20 to 25 mph. Chance of snow 20%. Tuesday night: Overcast in the evening, then partly cloudy. Low of 18F with a windchill as low as 5. Breezy. Winds from the WNW at 10 to 20 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Rockwell Blocks

Bring your budding builder, artist or inventor to the New York Hall of Science and set them loose among these oversized foam blocks. Kids of all ages can use the foam blocks to build structures and sculptures, tear them down, and then start all over again. Free with NYSCI admission. January 22 – 24,  10:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Still no heat in parts of Rockaways after Sandy

It’s a sound you wouldn’t expect to hear three months after Superstorm Sandy, generators providing power to buildings with electrical systems beyond repair. Read more: ABC New York

Five pedestrians hurt after car loses control in Queens

Five pedestrians were hurt when a speeding car lost control and crashed into several parked cars in Queens Monday, witnesses and police said. Read more: NBC New York

Snow, coldest air in 2 years for to tri-State area this week

The balmy temperatures and dry sidewalks in recent days may have led New Yorkers to forget that it is, in fact, winter. Read more: CBS New York

JFK flier ‘packing’ heat: TSA

A man heading for a vacation in Cancun was arrested at JFK Airport yesterday for allegedly carrying a loaded semiautomatic handgun. Read more: New York Post

Sandy-battered Rockaway business robbed as owners try to rebuild

A second wave of disaster — this one man-made — has struck a Sandy-battered business in the Rockaways. Read more: New York Daily News

Queens school damaged by Sandy finally reopens

On the road to recovery, a Catholic school in the Rockaways that sustained significant damage during Superstorm Sandy is finally reopening. Read more: ABC New York

Tuesday marks 40 years since historic Roe v. Wade ruling

By today’s politically polarized standards, the Supreme Court’s momentous Roe v. Wade ruling was a landslide. By a 7-2 vote on Jan. 22, 1973, the justices established a nationwide right to abortion. Read more: ABC New York

Confident Obama lays out battle plan as he launches second term

A confident President Barack Obama kicked off his second term on Monday with an impassioned call for a more inclusive America that rejects partisan rancor and embraces immigration reform, gay rights and the fight against climate change. Read more: Reuters