Tag Archives: Rory Lancman

David Weprin won’t run for brother’s City Council seat


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

File photos

There won’t be another Weprin switcheroo at City Hall.

Assemblyman David Weprin ruled out a run last week for the City Council seat that his brother, Mark Weprin, will vacate soon in order to become Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s deputy secretary of legislative affairs, according to a spokesperson for the assemblyman. David Weprin will instead seek re-election in 2016.

The Weprin brothers previously traded legislative seats. David Weprin occupied the 23rd City Council seat for eight years before making a failed run for city comptroller in 2009. Mark Weprin — then occupying the Assembly seat previously held by their late father, Assembly Speaker Saul Weprin — ran for and won his brother’s City Council seat.

After Mark Weprin stepped down from the Assembly to become city councilman, David Weprin won his brother’s and his father’s former Assembly seat in a 2010 special election.

Many observers believed David Weprin would jump at the chance of returning to City Hall after Mark Weprin announced his resignation from the City Council on May 11. According to the New York Observer, David Weprin told supporters on May 14 he would stay in Albany, noting that he was recently promoted to the Assembly’s leadership by current Speaker Carl Heastie.

“I’ve decided that I plan on running for re-election to the Assembly,” David Weprin was quoted in the Observer article. “I’ve enjoyed what I’ve accomplished so far in the Assembly. I think I have a lot more to do. I’ve developed a lot of seniority in a short time — a lot of people have left.”

Once Mark Weprin’s City Council resignation takes effect, Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to call a special non-partisan election to be held within the following 60 days. Each candidate must obtain their own ballot line; political parties cannot nominate a candidate, but may make endorsements.

Former Assemblyman and Deputy Queens Borough President Barry Grodenchik already confirmed his interest in the race. Other potential candidates include Dominic Panakal, chief-of-staff to Councilman Rory Lancman; attorney Ali Najmi; and former City Council candidates Bob Friedrich and Steven Behar.

The 23rd Council seat covers all or parts of Bayside Hills, Bellerose, Douglaston, Floral Park, Fresh Meadows, Glen Oaks, Hollis, Hollis Hills, Hollis Park Gardens, Holliswood, Little Neck, New Hyde Park, Oakland Gardens and Queens Village.

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Op-ed: A thousand new cops needed to keep us safe


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

BY COUNCILMAN RORY LANCMAN 

Threats to our city continue to pour in from around the world at this time of global unrest. New York’s Finest are doing everything they can to protect us, but we need to help them.

At the time of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, there were nearly 41,000 officers. Today, the force has shrunk to only 35,000, leading each precinct to lose an average of 60 to 75 officers.

That is simply not enough officers, and it’s why I’ve joined my colleagues on the City Council and Police Commissioner Bratton in calling on the mayor to include funding for 1,000 new officers in this year’s budget, who are necessary to improve public safety and counterterrorism efforts.

Two Queens women were recently arrested for trying to join ISIS and planning terrorist attacks on targets in New York City. One was a resident of my council district. Events like these make it clear that threats can come from anywhere and that we must be vigilant to keep our city safe. Organizations like ISIS try to radicalize anyone with an Internet connection. New officers will be crucial in combating the increasingly sophisticated recruitment techniques our enemies employ.

These officers will also play a large role in improving relationships between the police and communities of color. Commissioner Bratton has mandated a three-day training course for all patrol officers to ensure they communicate effectively with all of the residents of our diverse city, and are current on the skills they need to police our neighborhoods. We’ll have to take police off the streets to do this and new officers will ensure staffing levels stay the same while this happens.

The additional officers will also play a key role in Commissioner Bratton’s new patrol model, which will put more cops on the beat and improve community relationships. Currently, officers rotate throughout an entire precinct, which makes it difficult to build trust between officers and the communities they protect.

The new model will ensure that officers are given the same beat for long enough to develop relationships with the local residents and address their concerns. It will also provide officers the necessary training and ability to recognize individuals suffering from mental illness, which may reduce the need for use of force.

This will make all of us safer.

That’s why the Council has made it our top budget priority to get funding for 1,000 new officers. I’m proud to stand with my colleagues as we fight to keep our city safe and improve police-community relations.

City Councilman Lancman represents the 24th Council District, which includes all or parts of Briarwood, Fresh Meadows, Jamaica and Jamaica Estates.

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Improvements underway at Jamaica’s Rufus King Park


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

NYC Parks/photo by Malcolm Pinckney

Jamaica’s “town square” is about to get a much-needed makeover.

The Parks Department along with local elected officials ceremonially broke ground Monday on a $2.2 million renovation of Rufus King Park located in an area bounded by Jamaica and 89th avenues between 150th and 153rd streets.

At the heart of the project is reconstruction of the park’s gazebo, which will include a new roof, handrails, steps and a brick platform. The gazebo’s electrical system will also be enhanced to better accommodate various events.

The Parks Department will also resurface and reconfigure the green space’s asphalt pathways to improve pedestrian circulation. New trees and shrubs will be planted throughout the park, and the agency will also create a new lawn both for leisure and athletic activity.

Many of those funding the Rufus King Park project, including Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and City Councilman Rory Lancman, helped Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, Community Board 12 District Manager Yvonne Reddick and others officially launch the renovation’s start Monday.

“Thanks to the generous funding allocated by the City Council, the Borough President’s office, Jamaica’s residents will be able to enjoy a renovated and revitalized open space with a new gazebo that will serve as a beautiful gathering place for this diverse neighborhood,” Silver said.

“Rufus King Park is like the town square of Jamaica, a central point for anyone of the vibrant and diverse community to enjoy,” Katz added. “The investment of public funds into this neighborhood treasure is very much a part of the Jamaica Now Action plan fully underway, a 21-point strategic plan intended to revitalize Jamaica into a thriving residential neighborhood.”

The 11-acre park was once part of the estate of Rufus King, a colonial lawyer, abolitionist and statesman who was among the signers of the Constitution. The Village of Jamaica purchased King Manor and surrounding land in 1896 for $50,000; the site was subsequently acquired by the City of New York two years later as Jamaica became part of the city.

King Manor stands today not only as a colonial museum, but also for various cultural events attended by thousands of people annually. The house is an official city landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Rufus King Park’s last major renovation occurred between 1991 and 1993, when the Parks Department shifted the bandstand, rebuilt the park house, installed new paths and redistributed recreational facilities. Additional work took place in 1996-97 when the city installed a new steel picket fence around King Manor.

The latest renovation is scheduled to be completed by the spring of 2016.

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Cunningham Park field dedicated to late Little League president


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Councilman Rory Lancman

Heroes get remembered, but legends never die, and Marc Katz’s memory will live on forever in Cunningham Park.

Councilmen Rory Lancman and Mark Weprin joined the Parks Department in dedicating a baseball field in Cunningham Park on Sunday to the memory of Katz, the late founder of the Jewish Community Little League.

Katz served as the president of the Jewish Community Little League from its founding in 1988 until his death in 2014. He had previously served as the president of the Young Israel of Hillcrest synagogue and as a member of the Community Board 8.

Lancman emphasized the enormity of Katz’s service in the community.

“Marc Katz was a pillar of our community,” Lancman said. “I cannot think of a better way to honor his memory than to dedicate a plaque at the field where he spent countless hours with our children.”

The Jewish Community League was founded so that Orthodox Jewish children and Sabbath observers could have an opportunity to play baseball in an organized league. These children may not be able to participate in many other youth baseball leagues as they typically would have some games on Saturday, the Jewish sabbath.

Weprin highlighted the impact Katz had on the lives of local children.

“This is a great tribute to the Katz family and the work Marc Katz did for all of us, all the kids, to make sure they had a place to play baseball,” said Weprin.

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MTA, DOT scrap plans for Main Street bus-only lane in Kew Gardens Hills


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Councilman Rory Lancman's office

Facing community and political opposition, the MTA and the city Department of Transportation slammed the brakes on a proposed dedicated bus lane for the limited Q44 bus line on Main Street in Kew Gardens Hills.

The news came during Wednesday night’s meeting of the Kew Gardens Hills Civic Association. The MTA planned to take one lane in each direction of Main Street to convert the Q44 between Flushing and Jamaica into a Select Bus Service (SBS) route.

Civic leaders and elected officials protested the plans previously, claiming the lost lane of traffic would increase vehicular traffic on Main Street while also depriving both residents and shoppers of valued parking space.

“A dedicated bus-only lane in Kew Gardens Hills was always the wrong choice for our community,” Councilman Rory Lancman said in a press release Thursday. “The proposed bus-only lane would have increased congestion, reduced parking spaces, hurt businesses and diverted cars onto residential streets.”

Lancman, along with Rep. Grace Meng, Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz and state Senators Joseph Addabbo and Toby Ann Stavisky, praised the MTA and DOT for hearing concerns about the bus lane and ultimately nixing the plan.

According to Lancman, the DOT and MTA will seek other methods to improve traffic flow on Main Street in Kew Gardens Hills, including potential street reconfiguration, off-board fare collection and re-synchronizing traffic lights.

A source familiar with the plan indicated a bus-only lane is most likely for areas of Main Street north of the Long Island Expressway. However, it is not likely a bus lane would be created on Main Street south of Kew Gardens Hills due to a lack of street space.

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Fresh Meadows teen busted for threatening Councilman Lancman


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

A Fresh Meadows teenager found himself in handcuffs for allegedly phoning in a death threat to Councilman Rory Lancman and his family.

Ariel Gershkovich, 17, made “a series of specific, threatening calls to [Lancman’s] home phone” on Tuesday, according to the councilman’s office.

In a voice mail left for Lancman, Gershkovich demanded that Lancman call him back or he would “do a drive-by, old school on you and your family,” according to law enforcement sources.

The legislator was reportedly at home with his wife and three children when he received this voice mail. The 107th Precinct Detective Squad and the Queens District Attorney’s office launched an investigation.

During questioning, Gershkovich — who is known to Lancman’s son — allegedly claimed he made the threats over the councilman’s politics,  according to published reports.

Gershkovich was arraigned Thursday in Queens Criminal Court on charges of second-degree harassment and second-degree aggravated harassment and was released without bail. He is scheduled to return to court on April 24 and faces up to a year behind bars if convicted, according to the Queens district attorney’s office.

“The police and district attorney’s office investigated with their usual professionalism and care, and an individual has been arrested and charged,” Lancman said in a statement to The Courier.

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New CTE and STEM initiatives coming to NYC public schools


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Councilman Rory Lancman

Strengthening core curriculum in public schools that gives students a head start on preparing for college and careers is a major focus of the New York City schools chancellor this year.

The General Electronic (GE) Foundation gave a $3.2 million investment to the school system that will support a new Career and Technical Education (CTE) pilot program and an enhanced Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) teacher training program.

“CTE and STEM programs provide an innovative way to motivate students and prepare them for future success,” said Councilman Rory Lancman, who joined Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña at Thomas Edison Career and Technical Education High School in Jamaica on Monday to announce the new programs. “The training provided at schools such as Thomas Edison ensures students graduate high school with skills they need to succeed in college and their careers.”

Schools participating in the CTE pilot program will work with higher education and industry partners to satisfy all portions of their CTE program. They will also establish professional development and assessment materials that are aligned to their respective programs, according to Fariña.

The GE Foundation’s funding will support the CTE pilot at 10 schools and the STEM training for up to 200 schools through new multiday STEM Institutes. CTE schools, programs and schools that wish to establish a CTE program can apply through a competitive process this fall and selected schools will begin implementation later in the 2015-2016 school year, according to Fariña.

The STEM investment will consist of the DOE’s first-ever intensive, three-day citywide STEM Institute, which will take place next month. At the STEM Institutes, teachers and school leaders will have professional learning opportunities, and be able to work directly with experienced STEM partner organizations.

Nearly 300 teachers and school leaders will attend this institute, according to Fariña, and the first cohort will participate in two additional STEM Institutes in summer 2015 and spring 2016.

“Rigorous CTE and STEM programs have a tremendous ability to engage our students and prepare them for success in college and careers,” said Fariña. “It is so critical to have industry and higher education partners on board for this important work. These initiatives also provide more opportunities for teachers and school leaders at ‘Renewal Schools’ to change the dynamics in their building, and we will encourage them to take advantage.”

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Five Jamaica small businesses to receive $95K city grant to upgrade facades


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

It’s well noted that there are many major projects that indicate Jamaica will be one of the next thriving Queens areas for development and business, but local advocacy groups don’t want to look past small merchants already doing business downtown.

For that reason, the Sutphin Boulevard Business Improvement District (BID) announced it will divide a $95,000 grant from the city’s Small Business Services department (SBS) among five businesses on the boulevard for projects that revitalize storefronts.

The Sutphin BID was one of 80 citywide organizations to apply for a grant from SBS, and only one of seven to win. It was also the only Queens group to receive funding.

By helping small businesses upgrade their facades, the BID hopes it will improve the look of the neighborhood and subsequently increase economic activity by attracting shoppers.

“Jamaica has been going through a metamorphosis for years and often people focus on the big, majestic projects, but if you look around here, the heart and soul of Jamaica is the mom-and-pop stores,” Councilman Rory Lancman said. “If we can help those small businesses improve their appearance, we can increase traffic to Jamaica, making it more of a destination for people from outside this area.”

The idea to apply for the grant from SBS began after a 2013 consumer survey, which pointed out the need to upgrade the look of businesses, according to Simone Price, executive director of the BID.

Sutphin Sign

“Many of the businesses on Sutphin Boulevard are unappealing, lack consistency in character or quality of signage, awnings and window displays,” Price said. “This pilot program will demonstrate the significance of financial investment as it relates to the positive experience when visiting the area.”

The grant will cover 80 percent of construction costs for the five businesses for projects that include revitalizing signage, lighting, windows and other parts of storefronts.

The initiative will roll out in three phases. In phase one, which will run from January through March, the BID will collect applicants and select the businesses.

During phase two, which is expected to be from April through June, the businesses will sign contracts for their projects and designs will be selected. The BID will also begin marketing the initiative and construction will begin. The final phase will finish in December with the completion of the projects’ construction.

Elizabeth Pilarte, who owns Party Moments, a store dedicated to selling party supplies, plans to apply for part of the money to get improved lighting and upgrade her storefront.

“This will definitely bring more customers and make our business stay here and grow in Jamaica,” she said.

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Proposed carriage horse ban finds strongest opposition among city lawmakers from Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Ricardo Zappala/Flickr Creative Commons

Opponents of a controversial bill that would ban carriage horses in the city can count on lawmakers from Queens as their biggest group of allies in the City Council.

Among the 14 council members from Queens, six have announced they will be voting against the bill that was introduced on Dec. 8 at City Hall. Only two Queens lawmakers are backing the bill and the other six remain undecided as of the night of Dec. 9.

“We are not going to be fooled by those who say that banning horse-drawn carriages is an animal rights issue. This is about political promises and money,” said Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, who joined a rally by carriage drivers and union leaders on City Hall steps on Dec. 8 before the bill was introduced.

“Banning the horse carriage industry would harm tourism, leave hundreds of families without jobs, and condemn these beautiful horses to join the tens of thousands of unwanted American horses that are sold each year to slaughterhouses and glue factories,” Crowley said.

Lawmakers from Queens who oppose the bill are Costa Constantinides, Mark Weprin, Rory Lancman, Daneek Miller, Karen Koslowitz and Crowley.

Supporting the bill to ban carriage horses are Paul Vallone and Daniel Dromm, who is one of the co-sponsors. Peter Koo, Erick Ulrich, Ruben Wills, Donovan Richards and Jimmy Van Bramer have yet to make up their minds.

Dromm repeated his support of the measure, issuing a joint statement with Manhattan Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, after the bill was introduced in the Transportation Committee, saying the measure “will increase the welfare of our horses by taking them off of our streets and to a safe haven where they can thrive.”

The effort to ban carriage horses is being fought tooth and nail by the roughly 350 drivers and other workers involved in the business and several labor unions.

If approved, the legislation would ban the use of horses in the city by 2016. In a bid to create new jobs for the carriage drivers, the city would offer free training and the right to get at the front of the line for a green-cab license, without having to pay the $6,000 fee.
The bill also would fine any of the horse owners $25,000 if they sell their horses for the “purpose of slaughter.”

But Crowley says the measures aren’t enough to help drivers and stable hands who would be out of work.

“We need to be realistic about what is being proposed: 300 New Yorkers could be unemployed at the stroke of a pen,” she said in a letter released this week. “Not only are these good jobs, they are union jobs. We cannot forget that labor unions have been an essential force in increasing and protecting the middle class.”

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South Asian senior center opens in Jamaica


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Councilman Rory Lancman

New York City’s first facility to serve senior citizens from South Asia three days a week at a single location opened in Jamaica this week.

The “Desi Senior Center,” located at the Jamaica Muslim Center, was born out of a $100,000 grant from Councilman Rory Lancman. The center will provide culturally relevant programming and daily meals adhering to religious dietary restrictions three days a week. It will also be the first program of its kind to offer activities like exercise classes, lectures, arts and crafts and special celebrations for the South Asian seniors.

“I am proud to announce the opening of the Desi Senior Center, a program that will positively impact the lives of so many area seniors,” Lancman said during a ceremony marking the opening on Dec. 1. “Providing accessible, culturally significant activities for all of our residents is of the utmost importance to me, and I hope this program only grows from here.”

Over 23,000 residents of South Asian descent live within Lancman’s congressional district. It is also the home of the largest Bangladeshi community in New York City.

The senior center is operating in collaboration with “India Home,” which is “a nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing the needs of the Indian and larger South Asian senior citizen immigrant community.”

“I am truly happy to see this happening in our community,” said Imam Shamsi Ali, director of the Jamaica Muslim Center. “This entire process has enabled the Jamaican Muslim Center to positively collaborate with our communities, particularly the South Asian community, which has been eye-opening and productive.”

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Op-ed: New Inspector General has a tough job ahead


| oped@queenscourier.com

COUNCILMAN RORY LANCMAN

Philip Eure, New York City’s first New York Police Department Inspector General, has a tough job ahead of him — to make sure that the New York City Police Department is using best practices to keep us safe from a myriad of threats without compromising our civil liberties. I intend to work closely with my fellow members of the City Council to monitor his work and ensure that he is helping the police department accomplish both of these objectives.

As the new IG, Mr. Eure will provide oversight of some of the City’s most controversial policing practices, in order to build mutual respect between citizens and the police. The City Council voted to establish the Inspector General’s role last year, shortly after it became clear that the breadth of the City’s stop-and-frisk and Muslim surveillance programs were both divisive and, in the case of stop-and-frisk, unlawful. Appointed by the Department of Investigations Commissioner Mark Peters, Eure’s role is to act as an independent monitor to the NYPD, reviewing the department’s policies, procedures and practices in broad strokes.

Mr. Eure, who headed the District of Columbia’s Office of Police Complaints, has a balanced record of oversight. During his tenure there, he addressed warrantless searches, convinced the District’s police department to adopt a one-week training program to teach officers best practices for interacting with the mentally ill (a relevant problem to New York’s own growing population of mentally ill offenders), and tightened up on “contempt of cop” cases (frivolous claims brought against police just trying to do their job).

However, New York is a city of unique challenges. New York employs a substantially larger police force than the District of Columbia (35,000 to 4,000, respectively), and serves what is the most diverse and concentrated urban population nationwide. The City has already taken positive steps to mend fences in communities affected by racially charged policing. Use of stop-and-frisk has dramatically receded from past years. Last week, Commissioner Bratton dissolved the police force’s Demographics Unit, which spied on Muslim citizens for no basis other than their religious affiliation. Sufficient oversight will be needed to ensure that information collected from the Unit is appropriately handled with respect to privacy and that the blanket surveillance of Muslims won’t be diffused into other units.

As IG, Mr. Eure’s ability to apply oversight is not confined to any one issue. Other review institutions, such as the Civilian Complaint Review Board, which investigates individual complaints, or the federal monitor, whose primary purpose is to offer oversight in ending stop-and-frisk practices, have a much more narrow scope. Although public debate on the IG role gave most of its consideration to curtailing the use of stop-and-frisk and Muslim surveillance, the law establishing the IG office authorizes it to examine any and all policies the NYPD employs. For example, state law currently requires police to investigate every crash where a serious accident happens, a standard that Mayor de Blasio has promised to meet as a part of his “Vision Zero” initiative. However, advocates for pedestrian and cyclist accident victims argue that the investigations don’t always happen. The IG has the authority to examine NYPD training and protocol to make sure collision units are properly handling such accidents.

It’s up to Mr. Eure to apply his influence creatively and collaboratively, working with Commissioner Bratton and the Police Department to strive for good relationships and the safety of New Yorkers. We on the City Council will be watching closely to ensure the highest quality oversight is administered.

 

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Cheap Shots on the rocks: SLA to vote on liquor license


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

The New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) will vote next Tuesday to either cut off a problematic college bar in Queens or let the drinks keep flowing.

Cheap Shots, at 149-05 Union Tpke., has racked up numerous noise complaints and at least 10 violations since it opened in March 2010, mostly for disorderly conduct and alleged underage drinking, SLA records show.

Rowdy customers constantly break out in fights outside, and some have even been spotted urinating and vomiting on the street, 107th Precinct Community Council President Carolann Foley said.

The SLA’s licensing bureau will decide the bar’s fate on March 11 — either approving or rejecting Cheap Shots’ request for a license renewal — after a full board meeting, an authority spokesperson said. Its current liquor license expired Feb. 28.

“I fully expect the SLA to protect our community and revoke Cheap Shots’ liquor license,” said Councilmember Rory Lancman, who called the site near St. John’s University a “magnet for criminal activity.”

In January, Community Board 8’s Liquor License Committee unanimously shut down Cheap Shots’ renewal application during a heated meeting with bar owners. The advisory vote was meant to urge the SLA to follow suit.

Bar boss Louis Abreu said he has since hired another security guard to keep a handle on commotions on weekends, bumping the total detail to five.

“I’m a small business owner trying to do the best I can,” he said. “We’ve been keeping the noise down. I’m still willing to work with the neighborhood.”

 

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EXCLUSIVE: Officials tweak contentious T Building plan


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A controversial plan to turn the historic T Building into housing for mental and chronic health patients has slightly changed, but it is still on the table, The Courier has learned.

In late 2012, Queens Hospital Center (QHC) was in talks with Comunilife, a nonprofit human services agency, to develop the dilapidated 10-story building on its Hillcrest campus into 251 units of affordable housing for people with low-income and chronic health conditions.

Residents would include veterans and people suffering from psychiatric diagnoses or a range of illnesses, from diabetes to AIDS.

The bid was met with fierce opposition from a coalition of civic leaders and elected officials, who said the “questionable population” could put children at nearby schools in danger.

Now a new version of the project is being bandied about, said sources close to the hospital and confirmed by local leaders.

Hospital officials hope to compromise and house fewer patients than originally proposed. The number is still up in the air, but a source said there would still be more than 100 patients.

“The plan keeps changing, but never actually gets formally introduced,” said Councilmember Rory Lancman, who learned of the new concept last week. “I don’t know if this idea will gel into a plan more than the last one.”

Several proposals are on the table, said Celia Dosamantes, a spokesperson for Assemblymember David Weprin, though the Comunilife plan is still front and center.

“There is room for discussion, which is good news,” she said.

Last month, Community Board 8 approved a resolution to demolish the T Building after a request from State Senator Tony Avella and Assemblymember Nily Rozic.

“This building is in serious disrepair,” Avella said, adding that it costs the hospital $2 million a year to maintain. “Money that is going into that building is taking away from patient care. That building should come down.”

But Queens preservationists are appealing to the city and state to save and landmark the former tuberculosis clinic.

“This hospital is part of a great war against disease, poverty and hardship,” Queens Preservation Council Chair Mitchell Grubler said.

The next step for the site heavily depends on money.

Funds for the multi-million dollar housing unit have not been secured yet, sources said, and it was unclear how much it would cost to dismantle.

“It’s hard to distinguish between a plan and merely an idea that isn’t going anywhere,” Lancman said. “Last time, there was all smoke and noise and nothing ever came of it.”

Queens Hospital Center spokesperson Cleon Edwards said officials are still working to find a resolution that “seeks to balance concerns” of the community with the hospital’s “obligation to provide high quality healthcare services to its patients.”

Comunilife did not respond to a request for comment.

 

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Rory Lancman celebrates landslide City Council victory


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Twitter photo courtesy of Dominic Panakal

Former Assemblymember Rory Lancman is headed to City Hall. 

Lancman, 44, won the open District 24 seat in a landslide victory on November 5. He also swept his opponents during the Democratic primary in September. 

“I’m feeling great,” he said. “It’s very, very gratifying and humbling to not just win but win by such a huge margin.” 

The Fresh Meadows attorney beat out Republican Alexander Blishteyn and third-party candidate Mujib Rahman with 73.7 percent of the vote, according to unofficial election results. 

More than 11,850 votes went to Lancman, early tallies show. Blishteyn took in 3,205 votes and Rahman, who lost his bid for the Democratic nominee, received 1,020 votes, according to preliminary results. 

Lancman will replace term-limited Councilmember James Gennaro in a district that represents parts of northeast and central Queens. 

Lancman was elected to the New York State Assembly in 2006. He pledged not to seek re-election last year while running for Congress — later losing his bid for Capitol Hill in the Democratic primary.

City Council incumbents Weprin, Crowley miss DC 37 union endorsement


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photos

Two City Council incumbents from Queens were not endorsed by the city’s largest public employee union because they did not apply for the nod, the union said.

DC 37 released its endorsements for the November general election last Wednesday, which included multiple sitting councilmembers in the borough and candidates who won primaries in September.

Left off the Queens list were Speaker-hopeful Mark Weprin and Elizabeth Crowley — both who are Democrats, facing fairly easy challenges for re-election in a blue-dominated borough.

The pair joins a handful of city incumbents who were not endorsed because they did not apply to be part of DC 37’s long-established screening process, according to Wanda Williams, the union’s political and legislative director.

The list includes City Council incumbents Dan Garodnick, Maria del Carmen Arroyo, Annabel Palma, Brad Lander and David Greenfield.

“The lack of an endorsement should not be construed as a commentary on their performance but as a reflection of their decision not to submit themselves to our rigorous screening process,” Williams said.

“Only the kind of transparent and rigorous screening process we have adopted assures we give all candidates a fair hearing they have initiated,” she added.

Weprin said he was unaware of the union’s screening policy. He was also running unopposed until August.

“We didn’t really reach out since I didn’t have an opponent until the summer,” he said. “This year, I certainly would have loved their endorsement. They are certainly a valuable and important union to me. I don’t take offense at it. I just wasn’t aware of the process. No hard feelings.”

Crowley did not comment.

Contested Queens incumbents who enjoy the union’s backing this year include Peter Koo, Karen Koslowitz, Eric Ulrich, Ruben Wills and Donovan Richards.

DC 37 also endorsed unchallenged incumbents Julissa Ferreras, Danny Dromm and Jimmy Van Bramer and primary winners Paul Vallone, Rory Lancman, Daneek Miller and Melinda Katz.

The municipal workers’ union, which has 121,000 members and 50,000 retirees, said it sends out an army of volunteers to work phone banks and do door-to-door “Get Out The Vote” operations.

 

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