Tag Archives: Ruben Wills

Wills calls on John Thomas to turn himself in


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Councilmember Ruben Wills

Three weeks after police officer Craig Bier was shot, a local politician is calling for the alleged gunman to turn himself in to authorities.

Police identified John Thomas, 24, of Queens, as a suspect in the shooting of Bier on August 8, offering a $32,000 reward.

Councilmember Ruben Wills held a press conference on Wednesday, August 29 calling for Thomas to turn himself in.

Wills pointed to a “chorus of voices” in the community — including leaders, residents and the family of the alleged shooter — that believes the suspect should surrender to aid in the ongoing investigation and secure his safety.

Bier became the 10th NYPD officer shot this year earlier this month as he and his partner approached Thomas in Jamaica. As the suspect fled, Bier cut off his escape route and the two exchanged fire. Bier was hit in each leg.

“The recent gun violence is sending shock waves throughout the community and I believe this is the first step for this community to become an active and responsible partner in bringing our community to a peaceful state,” Wills said.

 

Russell Simmons joins march to reclaim Queens streets for peace


| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Billy Rennison

Residents and leaders in southeast Queens — joined by a famous native son — marched recently to return peace to their increasingly violence-filled streets.

The Sunday, August 19 rally, organized by The Peacekeepers Global Initiative, drew hundreds of locals bothered by the outbreak of shootings the area has witnessed — as well as parents who have buried children due to the violence.

“We need to make sure that we make our community a safe and decent place to live,” said Dennis Muhammed, founder of The Peacekeepers.

Murders are up 29 percent in Queens South this year, according to CompStat.

Joining the march was Queens native Russell Simmons, who said he was inspired by the neighborhood’s turnout.

“We have to give some sort of hope to the people in the community,” the Def Jam co-founder said. “Young kids in the hood don’t understand that there’s a lot of potential in them and when they see that we care, it matters.”

Parents of children lost to guns marched hand-in-hand with Simmons before speaking to the crowd in the Baisley Park Houses.

“My son was a good kid, he played ball, didn’t bother anybody, he was a momma’s boy. He turned 19 February 2; they murdered him March 2,” Shanta Merritt, mother of Darryl Adams, who was killed in Jamaica, said between tears. “I’m going to do anything and everything that I can to be a voice for my son. I don’t want this to happen to anyone else.”

As the march moved from Sutphin Boulevard and 111th Avenue to the Baisley Houses, residents came out, with some joining the march and the chants to reclaim the streets for peace.

“It’s us that’s going to protect our community, it’s us that’s going to change what’s happening in our communities, it’s only us working together that can make a difference in what going on in our communities,” said Erica Ford, founder of LIFE Camp, a violence prevention advocacy group.

The community has been calling for something to be done that will help end the violence, but leaders agreed the rally needed to be only the beginning of the change.

“We do have a responsibility and that responsibility is to make sure this is not just an event, a one-time affair,” said Congressmember Gregory Meeks. “We need to be back out here when there’s no cameras, when there’s no attention.”

New Neighborhood Opportunity Network opens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy DOP

On Tuesday, July 17, the NYC Department of Probation (DOP) celebrated the launch of the Jamaica Neighborhood Opportunity Network (NeON), which is located at 162-24 Jamaica Avenue.

DOP Commissioner Vincent Schiraldi was joined at the lectern by Councilmember Ruben Wills, Community Board 12 District Manager Yvonne Reddick, probation clients and Jamaica NeON staff.  The audience included representatives from the many different organizations that are partnering with DOP on the NeON.

The Jamaica NeON is a community-based probation office that works with a network of local organizations, government agencies, businesses and community residents to link probation clients to nearby resources.

In December 2011, Mayor Michael Bloomberg opened the first NeON in Brownsville, Brooklyn.  DOP anticipates opening additional NeONs in Staten Island, the South Bronx, East New York and Bedford Stuyvesant.

NeON is an important part of Bloomberg’s Young Men’s Initiative, which is designed to help black and Latino youth achieve their professional, educational, and personal goals.

Families devastated by cuts to Jamaica senior center


| mchan@queenscourier.com

FRIENDSHIP CENTERw

Some seniors in southeast Queens may soon lose their “friends.”

The Friendship Center — a program under the Jamaica Service Program for Older Adults (JSPOA) — relies heavily on funding from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) to support its rehabilitative programs. However, due to fiscal constraints, the agency said it could no longer support the program after July 1.

“It’s devastating. I just can’t even believe that they did this,” said Beverly Collier, executive director of JSPOA.

The Jamaica-based senior center offers free services to mentally and physically frail elders, who commonly suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and depression. In addition to providing meals and socialization activities, the center hosts psychiatric clinics once a week.

Friendship’s mental health programs originally received $443,000 annually from the DOHMH, Collier said, but funds were cut in half last year. While the other half was restored through community support and discretionary funds, Collier said rallying to raise 100 percent of funding this year would be near impossible.

“It would be very difficult to maintain Friendship for this population without the department’s money. And sending this population to your average run-of-the-mill center is not an alternative because they are not able to participate and socialize with mainstream seniors,” Collier said.

The center — which has been in existence since 1979 — is home to the 65 to 75 seniors who use the center daily, according to the executive director.

The decision to strip the center’s funding has devastated caregivers like Brenda Lacey, whose 93-year-old mother has been going to the center for close to 14 years.

“This has been our lifeline. This is [my mother’s] livelihood,” Lacey said. “I feel terrible because this might be my mother’s demise. For her not to have those people in her life, it would be like losing a family member for her.”

Lacey said she plans to look into other mainstream regular senior centers, but fears her mother will not adjust well to the changes.

“She might not be able to cope. The people wouldn’t understand her like they do at Friendship,” she said. “I’m just praying. It really needs to stay open.”

Eleanor Williams said she’s nervous her 73-year-old husband, Harold, may revert back to depression if the center closes.

“Before Friendship, he was at the point where he was suicidal. He was at the hospital several times at months on end,” Williams said. “Once he got to Friendship, it really brought him totally out of his shell. If you had seen this man a year ago, you would say it wasn’t the same person. Right now, I don’t know where to go from here.”

Meanwhile, Councilmembers Leroy Comrie and Ruben Wills said they are “aggressively working” to make sure Friendship keeps its doors open.

“This program is something we should be duplicating throughout the city — not cutting,” said Wills, whose grandmother used the center before her passing. “I don’t know what it is with these budget cuts, but the city seems to always target the most vulnerable population. It’s going too far at this point.”

Wills said he will be posting an online petition on his web site — www.rubenwills.com — later this week in addition to targeting different ways to secure funding.

“This is really unjust. This is really crazy,” he said.

Queens’ Morning Roundup – 11/11/2011: Jury Acquits Assemblyman of Conspiring to Take Bribes


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Jury Acquits Assemblyman of Conspiring to Take Bribes

William F. Boyland Jr., a Democratic assemblyman from one of Brooklyn’s most prominent political families, was acquitted on Thursday of conspiring to take $175,000 in bribes in return for using his influence on behalf of a health care organization that runs hospitals in Queens and Brooklyn. Read More: Wall Street Journal

 

Barbara Sheehan sentenced to five years in prison

After dodging a murder conviction for the death of her husband, Barbara Sheehan has been reportedly sentenced to five years behind bars on a second degree weapons charge related to the case. Sheehan, who faced up to 15 years in prison prior to her sentencing, was acquitted of murder after a jury determined she acted in self-defense when she shot her husband, Raymond, a retired NYPD sergeant, 11 times on the morning of February 18, 2008. Read More: Queens Courier

 

Queens Councilman Pleads Guilty To Charges Stemming From 1996 Larceny Case

Just two days after winning re-election, a City Councilman pleaded guilty Thursday to charges stemming from a 15-year-old larceny case. Queens Councilman Ruben Wills admitted to stealing items and damaging a Manhattan office building in 1996. The case will be closed without jail time or probation if he does three days of community service and pays $2,500 in restitution. Wills said the incident arose from a business dispute. An outstanding warrant was issued for his arrest after he missed court dates. Read More: NY1

 

10th Anniversary Memorial Ceremony for American Airlines Flight 587 on Saturday

Saturday, November 12 American Airlines Flight 587 10th anniversary memorial ceremony

Beach 116th Street, Belle Harbor – 9 a.m.

There will be a moment of silence at 9:16 a.m. at the time of the crash, followed by a reading of the victims’ names. The ceremony will be held at the memorial site, which was unveiled for the fifth anniversary. More Event Details: Queens Courier

 

Stalled Road Construction Keeps Forest Hills Residents From Getting Sleep

Forest Hills residents are complaining they cannot get any sleep because of the noise stemming from cars driving over a work site on 71st Avenue. Read More: NY1

 

City surrenders in long battle to turn historic St. Saviour’s site into Maspeth park

The city has given up its long fight to acquire the land where a historic Maspeth church once stood and turn it into park space. But the city and now looking into purchasing a City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) are smaller parcel of land from the nearby Martin Luther School as an alternative to the St. Saviour’s site. Read More: Daily News

 

Woodside monument honoring World War I heroes gets face-lift for Veterans Day

The majestic statue that stands at the foot of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in Woodside was created to honor local soldiers who paid the ultimate price in World War I. The female figure, sword in one hand and shield in the other, stands sentry over the tiny plaza in the neighborhood formerly known as Winfield. Read More: Daily News

[UPDATE] Election Day 2011


| smosco@queenscourier.com

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown casts his vote this Election Day

[UPDATE]

Only 83 voters have visited the polls at Benjamin Cardozo High School since they opened this morning at 6 a.m, according to poll worker Michele Miller.

The Bayside area high school is open for those wanting to vote for six Supreme Court judges and the District Attorney. There are six candidates under each party for Supreme Court judge and Richard A. Brown is running unopposed for District Attorney.

 

It’s Election Day and Queens voters have three races on the ballot.

Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown is running for a record sixth consecutive term as county prosecutor. Brown, who will be 79 less than one week after Election Day, is running unopposed with endorsements from his own Democratic Party, as well as Republicans and Conservatives.

Also on the ballot this year, candidate Ruben Wills, a Democrat, is running unchallenged to fill the 28th District City Council seat. Rounding out the election, Queens will fill six state Supreme Court justice seats.

Candidates for State Supreme Court come from across the city. Five of the Democratic candidates are sitting Civil Court judges including Janice A. Taylor of Jamaica; Allan Weiss of Forest Hills; Rudolph E. Greco Jr. of Jackson Heights; Vincent J. Dufficy of Breezy Point and Ira H. Margulis of Oakland Gardens. The sixth Democrat in the race, Pam B. Jackson of Jamaica, is currently a Housing Court judge.

Candidates on the Republican and Conservative side of the ballot include Robert V. Beltrani of Jackson Heights; Gabriel Tapalaga of Middle Village; Joseph F. Kasper of Ozone Park; Kate Christoforatos of the Bronx; Milton Florez of Oakland Gardens; and John f. Casey of Flushing.

Polling places are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. and information on voting can be found by visiting the Board of Elections web site at www.vote.nyc.us or by calling 866-VOTE-NYC (866-868-3692).