Tag Archives: Sal Albanese

Woodside park has rat problem, say locals


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Sal Albanese

ANGY ALTAMIRANO AND BENJAMIN FANG

Unwanted visitors are taking a stroll in a Woodside park.

Residents and store owners have observed a large number of rats beginning to inhabit John Vincent Daniels Jr. Square, located at Roosevelt Avenue and 43rd Avenue between 50th and 52nd Street, over the past several months.

“They’re monsters, they’re huge,” said Jim Gallagher, a resident who lives near the park and who called the Parks Department over a month ago after seeing rats while drinking his coffee at the park.

During a campaign stop in Woodside on July 16, mayoral candidate and former Councilmember Sal Albanese also encountered the rats. A local florist told him it has become a tireless problem not being addressed by the city.

On July 22, The Courier spotted seven rats on a morning visit to the park.

James Jeung of Dr. PC, a computer repair shop, said he has seen the rats for a long time on the lawn or the grass in the park. Xavier Gomes, who works at Patrons Grocery, said he has caught sight of the rodents four to five times a day.

However, a spokesperson for the city’s Park Department says the site has been well maintained and measures have been taken to prevent rodent infestation.

“The Parks Department cleans John Vincent Daniels Jr. Square daily,” said the spokesperson. “We work with the Health Department to bait the site for rats, and have trimmed the lower portions of the site’s bushes to remove places where rats can hide.”

The spokesperson also said Parks Enforcement Patrol officers visit the park to enforce rules against feeding pigeons and illegal dumping, which can attract rats to the area.

“Litter does not grow on trees and we encourage all park visitors to take any trash with them or properly dispose of it in an appropriate receptacle,” said the spokesperson.

 

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Anthony Weiner responds to sexting allegations


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Anthony Weiner’s sex scandal troubles are ready for their own comeback.

The Dirty, a gossip and satire website, is claiming that the mayoral candidate’s sexting did not end with his June 2011 resignation from Congress.

But this time, Weiner is not denying the allegations.

In a statement released today, he said some of the claims published on the site are true.

“I said that other texts and photos were likely to come out, and today they have,” Weiner said. “As I have said in the past, these things that I did were wrong and hurtful to my wife and caused us to go through challenges in our marriage that extended past my resignation from Congress. While some things that have been posted today are true and some are not, there is no question that what I did was wrong.”

“This behavior is behind me,” the statement continued. “I’ve apologized to Huma [Abedin, Weiner’s wife] and am grateful that she has worked through these issues with me and for her forgiveness. I want to again say that I am very sorry to anyone who was on the receiving end of these messages and the disruption that this has caused. As my wife and I have said, we are focused on moving forward.”

The site posted screenshots of sexually explicit online messages between the former Queens congressmember and a then-22-year-old woman.

The Dirty quoted the young woman, who is choosing to remain anonymous, as claiming to have had an online and over-the-phone relationship with Weiner for six months starting in July 2012. She “believed they were in love,” according to www.thedirty.com.

The woman also said that after Weiner started the relationship with her through Facebook, he promised her a job at the news publication Politico and a condo in Chicago, among other things.

By August, the relationship had escalated to phone sex and exchanging naked photos, according to the woman.

Weiner would allegedly send pictures of his genitals to her using the name “Carlos Danger.” The Dirty posted one of those photos online along with the woman’s claims.

The two even planned to meet to have sex, she said.

“We only spoke once in December 2012, and then I didn’t hear from Anthony Weiner again until April 11, 2013 when a [New York Times] article about him was released,” she told The Dirty. “He reactivated his Facebook and asked me what I thought of it.”

Following Weiner’s latest confession, Democratic mayoral candidate Sal Albanese said that these latest allegations prove that he is “unfit to serve as mayor.

“Unfortunately, my other opponents have danced around the issue. I’m not going to do that,” he said in a statement. “I’m calling for Anthony Weiner to do right by New Yorkers and withdraw from the race.”

Mayoral candidates, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, and Republican John Catsimatidis, also called for Weiner’s resignation today.

In a press conference Tuesday evening Weiner refused to quit the race, and apologized, standing by his initial statement.

“I’m responsible for this behavior that led [my wife and me] to be in this place, but in many ways things are not that much different than they were yesterday,” said Weiner.

He reiterated that he wouldn’t dispute any allegations, but wouldn’t confirm specifics.

Weiner did address the timeline of events admitting, “some of these things happened before my resignation, some of them happened after.”

His wife also spoke , saying that her husband made “some horrible mistakes” before and after he left Congress, but that they had worked through it.

“I love him. I have forgiven him. I believe in him,” she stated. “And, as we have said from the beginning, we are moving forward.”

Updated July 23, 6:16 p.m.

 

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Mayoral candidates take on tech at forum


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Mayoral candidates discussed ways to improve the city’s booming technology industry during the Mayoral Tech Policy Forum on June 17 at the Museum of the Moving Image.

The Coalition for Queens, which fosters the tech community in the borough, hosted the event. It brought out more than 100 techies.

“Technology affects everything from all the different industries,” said JuKay Hsu, founder of the Coalition for Queens. “I think it should be a large part of everything the candidates do.”

Former Councilmember Sal Albanese, former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion Jr., City Comptroller John Liu and former Congressman Anthony Weiner took part in the discussion.

To kick off the forum, moderators asked the candidates to reveal what their smart phones, carriers and favorite apps are.

Albanese has a BlackBerry Bold with Verizon and likes the Major League Baseball app; Carrion carries an iPhone with Verizon and frequently listens to Pandora; Liu has an iPhone with AT&T service and also likes Pandora; and Weiner said he has both a BlackBerry and an iPhone, but did not name his carriers or his favorite app.

Moderators Anjali Athavaley of The Wall Street Journal and Nilay Patel of The Verge emphasized the event was not a debate. But the cast of former and current public officials did not miss a chance to promote their campaigns while answering questions collected from social media and tech communities.

Topics included tech jobs, startup companies, housing for workers, digital media and education in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

The candidates all praised Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s efforts to boost the tech industry, but agreed more could be done. Ideas included increasing the city’s broadband infrastructure.

Discussing technology in schools, Wiener suggested that all students carry Kindles in their backpacks instead of 40-pound books. He later clarified he was not supporting Amazon, which makes and sells the Kindle, but mentioned the device as one example of e-readers.

The roundtable also touched on “disrupters” such as Uber. The app, which allows people to schedule a cab instead of hailing one, has come under fire from the Taxi and Limousine Commission. But Weiner drew some laughs about the subject in general.

“I like the disrupter title. I’d like to think I’ve done that to the mayoral campaign,” he said, adding, “We want you to be a successful tech company, but we don’t want you to undermine the laws.”

Building more affordable housing for tech workers and having more office space for companies was another popular idea at the forum.

 

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Candidates answer questions at Courier mayoral forum


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Mike DiBartolomeo

The Democratic, Republican and independent mayoral candidates all came together on one stage for the first time since the race to succeed Mayor Michael Bloomberg began.

The Courier hosted its Mayoral Forum on Friday, June 7 at Terrace on the Park with Democrats Sal Albanese, Bill de Blasio, John Liu, Christine Quinn, Bill Thompson and Anthony Weiner joined Republicans John Catsimatidis, George McDonald, Joe Lhota and independent Adolfo Carrion. Moderator and NY1 anchor Rocco Vertuccio asked questions pertaining to both borough and city issues.

Vertuccio kicked off the event with a question about handling labor contracts for city workers.

“The municipal work force is demoralized,” Albanese said. “Many haven’t gotten a raise in five years.”

The former councilmember said he would do his best to provide retroactive pay for the workforce without raising taxes.

Carrion suggested establishing a cost-sharing relationship with the city’s workforce, while Lhota said workers do not pay their fair share when it comes to healthcare costs.

“We don’t want to go backwards,” McDonald said, adding he would not sign a labor contract that did not include a cost of participation for healthcare by municipal employees.

He also said there are “too many city employees” and that the city should utilize available technology to fulfill the tasks of some jobs.

Weiner agreed the city needs to take control of spending, especially healthcare costs, and utilize local pharmacies and labs to keep “our healthcare money here in Queens.” He was the only candidate to stand while speaking.

The Major League Soccer (MLS) development in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park was a source of disagreement, with some candidates taking a pro-development stance and others aiming to preserve as much parkland as possible.

De Blasio, the city’s public advocate, said he lived near the park and has a “personal sense” of how much Flushing Meadows means to people.

“Sports don’t necessarily help out the larger economy,” he said.

However, he said that finding a way to create a stadium that gives an opportunity to keep the same amount of parkland would be a “worthy discussion.”

“I’m all for having a stadium somewhere in the city, but we can’t burden Flushing Meadows,” Lhota said.

He added we should not be taking parkland and using it for other initiatives. Lhota suggested allocating the funds to renovate the New York State Pavilion instead.

City Comptroller Liu, a Queens native, said he wants to make sure there is no alienation of parkland and that it should not be sold to public interests.

Before leaving for another engagement, City Council Speaker Quinn said it is “critically important to have the utmost respect for the community and voice of the local elected officials.”

She added that is why she has been working with Councilmember Julissa Ferreras on the area’s proposed tennis center.

Former Congressmember Weiner said he is pro-development and would love to have MLS in the borough, but first, he joked, he’d “love to have major league baseball here in Queens.”

“I’m a Mets fan. I can say it,” he said with a laugh.

One citywide issue concerned government’s alleged use of violation fines as a source of revenue. The Bloomberg administration has come under criticism by some who fines placed upon small businesses are unfair. Vertuccio asked the candidates what they would do.

Catsimatidis, once a small business owner himself, proposed a “business advocate group” within the city. When business owners are fined and believe it is unwarranted, they would not need to hire a lawyer. In Catsimatidis’ proposal, the advocacy group would fight on the owner’s behalf.

“New York City is at war with its small businesses,” Thompson said.

McDonald said his city sweeping company cleans the streets outside of merchants’ sites and “saves [them] millions of dollars a year in fines.”

When it came to city cultural institutions and the yearly “budget dance” that such organizations experience, all the candidates agreed there needs to be more control over the mayoral budget, saying the confusion should end.

Thompson said the city should put more money into cultural institutions and place art and music education back in the public school system.

PHOTOS FROM THE MAYORAL FORUM

Some candidates briefly showed their claws during the forum’s closing remarks. Albanese made reference to Weiner’s controversial fall from office.

“Weiner is interesting,” Albanese said. “He’s very political and articulate. But I believe it’s important if you want to be the mayor of New York City to have credibility. He’s betrayed the public trust on several occasions. I think that disqualifies him from running for mayor.”

The remark was met with sounds of disapproval from the panel, with McDonald tapping loudly on his microphone.

Moving on, de Blasio described his proposal to tax the “wealthiest New Yorkers so we can have full day pre-kindergarten programs for our kids.”

Catsimatidis called himself “the balance,” saying he has not taken any campaign donations from political contributors.

Carrion said he is running as an independent to “ensure this city of promise gives this opportunity to our generation and future generations.”

Candidates will continue to blaze down the campaign trail until the primary election in September, followed by the mayoral election in November.

 

 

Democratic candidates tackle tough issues at Queens mayoral debate


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Endorsements rolling in for city candidates


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

The following candidates have received backings . . .

New York City Mayor

Former Councilmember Sal Albanese was endorsed by the Transport Workers Union Local 101 in the Democratic mayoral primary, while his opponent City Council Speaker Christine Quinn landed support from the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.

New York City Comptroller

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer gained the backing of Teamsters Joint Council 16.

City Council District 19

Republican incumbent Dan Halloran bagged an endorsement from the NYPD Captains Endowment Association. Austin Shafran, one of four candidates in the race’s Democratic primary, rolled out boosts from UFCW Local 1500.

City Council District 22

Costa Constantinides got a leg up from Communications Workers of America Local 1180.

 

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Former Councilmember Sal Albanese kicks off mayoral campaign


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Albanese for Mayor 2013

Former Councilmember Sal Albanese, who recently announced he’s running for mayor as an independent Democrat, has high hopes for improving public safety and the city’s education system.

Albanese, who represented mostly Bay Ridge for 14 years, said he was building a campaign based on voter needs and not special interest groups.

“We’re building a grass-roots campaign around the city,” Albanese, 63, told The Courier. “I want to get to City Hall with a broad base of support.”

Albanese spent 11 years as a teacher and said he would partner with education colleges throughout the city and strengthen the student-teacher program if elected mayor.

Albanese said he would hire 3,800 new police .officers for patrols in the outer boroughs where crime might be ignored or under-reported. “If you have nobody on patrol…these things can drive people out of neighborhoods,” he said.

For Queens, Albanese said he would focus on ensuring continued development is done properly, and the borough recovers and rebuilds after Sandy.

All options and effects should be explored before officially jumping on a project such as the proposed Major League Soccer stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. “[It] could really be a positive thing,” he said. “But we have to balance that with the parkland.”

Despite a lengthy term on the council, Albanese has not been in public office for about 15 years and is running in a primary against many Democratic incumbents. Some opponents include: City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Comptroller John Liu, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and former Comptroller Bill Thompson.

On the Republican front:

Less than a week after his announcement, and after a long-expected endorsement, Republican Mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis picked up the backing of the Queens GOP on Friday, February 1.

“John Catsimatidis has the right experience as an independent businessman to lead New York and solve our city’s problems with common sense,” said party chair Phil Ragusa in a statement. The grocery store magnet is one of only a handful of candidates whose career hasn’t been in public service. Upon his endorsement, Catsimatidis noted his father worked as a bus boy at Riccardo’s in Astoria.

“I am very pleased to accept the Queens County Republican Party’s official endorsement,” Catsimatidis said. “My father who came over from the old country when I was just six months of age worked hard for our family and taught me the value of hard work and because he worked hard we never knew we were poor.”

 

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