Tag Archives: Senator Jose Peralta

$6K reward offered for info on shooting of pregnant woman in LeFrak City


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

Instead of coming together with his family to celebrate Thanksgiving, Joseph Massey had to spend his holiday trying to figure out a way to tell his four children that their mother would never be coming home.

Massey’s wife, 27-year-old Brandee Anastasia Massey, was gunned down outside of her apartment at LeFrak City at 98-15 Horace Harding Expressway in Corona on Wednesday morning, police said. She was about six months pregnant and had been returning from dropping three of her four kids off at school, according to authorities.

The stay-at-home mom was shot in the chest and arm and taken to Elmhurst Hospital where she was pronounced dead. Doctors were able to deliver her baby, but the child died several hours later, according to police.

Now, hoping to develop leads in the murder investigation, state Sen. Jose Peralta and the LeFrak City Organization are each offering $2,000, in addition to the NYPD’s initial $2,000 reward, for any information leading to the arrest of Brandee’s killer.

“As this community mourns a horrific tragedy, we come together to provide however much support and comfort we can to a grieving husband and devastated family,” Peralta said. “But the most important thing we can do for them right now is to help police and law enforcement bring Brandee’s killer to justice and make whoever is responsible pay for this brutal crime.”

Brandee Anastasia Massey (Photo via Facebook)

Brandee Anastasia Massey (Photo via Facebook)

Since the shooting, Joseph Massey and his four children, who have not been able to return back to their home in Lefrak City, have been staying at a hotel. Peralta and Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras have helped the family with expenses.

After seeing Massey Thursday night, Peralta said the father is very distraught and just wants justice for his family and children.

“All he said was, ‘I don’t know how to explain it to my children,’” Peralta added.

Peralta will also be creating a fund in the upcoming days to help provide for the education of Massey’s four children.

Norma Cooksey, 77, who lived in LeFrak City for 40 years, was friends with Brandee’s grandmother and said she was shocked when she heard the news.

“She grew up in front of me. She was a nice person,” Cooksey said.

Residents of LeFrak City, which is currently undergoing renovations and improvements, say they are concerned for their safety. The building where Brandee lived currently has no cameras and residents said the front door to enter the building remains unlocked.

“We have to really beef up security. Do we have adequate security here at LeFrak? In my opinion, absolutely not,” said Jim Galloway, coordinator for the Lefrak City Tenant’s League. “After this we need cameras on all the floors as quickly as possible. So if anybody comes in to LeFrak to do something irregular at least we can see them through any camera.”

Police Commissioner William Bratton said Thursday the shooting appears to have been a domestic dispute involving the victim’s uncle and police are looking to question to him, according to published reports.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

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Pols call for law change after driver with suspended license fatally strikes Woodside boy


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

BY CRISTABELLE TUMOLA AND ANGY ALTAMIRANO

Local elected officials are calling for a change in the law to prevent another child, like 8-year-old Noshat Nahian, from losing their life.

Noshat was crossing the street with his 11-year-old sister on the way to school at P.S. 152 in Woodside around 8 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 20 when a tractor trailer traveling southbound on 61st Street made a left turn onto Northern Boulevard, striking him with its rear tires, police said. He was taken to Elmhurst Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The driver, Mauricio Osorio-Palominos, 51, of Newark, N.J., who remained on the scene of the accident, has been charged with aggravated unlicensed operation of motor vehicle and operating vehicle in violation of safety rules, police said.

Osorio-Palominos was driving with a suspended license with multiple violations on his record during the accident, according to State Senator Michael Gianaris.

In response, Gianaris gathered with local officials, residents and advocacy groups at the site of the accident Monday to introduce legislation that would make it a felony if drivers with suspended licenses either seriously injure or kill someone with their vehicle. Under current law, a driver like Osorio-Palominos could be charged with a misdemeanor.

“The law needs to get tougher,” said Gianaris. “Those who have suspended licenses are twice as likely to kill somebody or injure somebody, or twice as likely to have major accidents, the law has to catch up with the data, we just need to get these people off the streets.”

Gianaris has also proposed the immediate impoundment of a vehicle’s license plate if it were being operated by someone with a suspended license.

The new bill will be co-sponsored by Senators Toby Ann Stavisky and Jose Peralta and also supported by Assemblymember Michael Den Dekker, Congressmember Joseph Crowley and Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer.

“I have an 8-year-old son and it could have been my child, it could have been my son that was hit that Friday morning,” said Peralta. “And we need to send a loud message not only to the city but to anyone who does this, who rides without a license, that this is not going to be acceptable.”

Advocate groups like Transportation Alternatives, Make Queens Safer and Woodside on the Move, are also looking to implement other safety measures like crossing guards, stalled green lights and much more.

“None of this should of happen, all of this could have been prevented,” said Van Bramer. “This school has been asking for a crossing guard at this location for months. [It’s] absolutely disgraceful that the administration did not provide the crossing guard when it was requested, when it was clearly needed. Anybody who has been on this street for more than five minutes knows that this requires a crossing guard.”

Advocacy group Make Queens Safer organized a traffic safety memorial and vigil at 61st Street and Northern Boulevard Sunday where Noshat’s family and hundreds of residents gathered to remember the 8-year-old and other victims of traffic fatalities.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Long Island City experiences new real estate boom 

 

Long Island City is undergoing another real estate boom, buoyed by a new batch of residential towers, hotels and high-profile property deals. Local real estate experts said they believe the momentum — with an influx of waterfront high rises and almost 20 hotels — is due to the once industrial neighborhood’s soaring reputation and an improved economy. Read more: [New York Daily News]  

 

A rookie and veteran, both from Ladder 163 in Queens, set to be honored at FDNY Medal Day

Firefighters at Ladder 163 in Queens have double the reason to celebrate at this year’s FDNY Medal Day ceremony. Two of their members will be cited for going above and beyond the already-dangerous call of duty as a New York City firefighter. Read more: [New York Daily News]

 

Residents Flock To Rockaway Beach For Memorial Day Weekend

For early risers, Rockaway Beach can be almost a private playground on the sand and in the water. “You want to beat the crowds because it’s harder to get some good long rides in,” said one resident. “I’m still learning and I have a lot to learn but at least I’ll have some space.” Read more: [NY1]

 

Vet: US wishes I’d die

While Americans spend today at parades and ceremonies honoring service members killed in the line of duty, one Queens veteran believes government bureaucrats can’t wait for him to die. Frank Bari, a 62-year-old lawyer, has been waging an eight-year legal battle with the Veterans Administration over his claims that he was left permanently disabled by the Agent Orange that was sprayed on him while he served with the Coast Guard in Vietnam. Read more: [New York Post]

 

Jackson Heights man inducted into state Veterans Hall of Fame 

A Queens man who coordinated the largest air rescue behind enemy lines in American combat history has been posthumously inducted into the state Senate Veterans’ Hall of Fame. George Vujnovich, a retired small business owner from Jackson Heights, was awarded the Bronze Star in 2010, 66 years after the conducting the rescue. He died in late April at the age of 96, shortly after state Sen. Jose Peralta informed him of the induction. Read more: [New York Daily News]

 

NYC Honors Military Members Who Gave Their Lives

Events are going on around the city and the country Monday to honor those who died in service to the nation. Mayor Bloomberg paid tribute to the nation’s fallen at a ceremony at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on the Upper West Side. Read more: [NY1]

Pols: New district lines ‘as bad’ as before


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Recent revisions to district lines have done little to darn the disharmony between Republicans and Democrats.

The New York State Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment (LATFOR) — made up largely of Republican senators due to their current control of the chamber — released its updated district maps on March 12, angering Democrats due to the miniscule modifications made over the past month.

The new lines, which no longer couple the districts of Senators Michael Gianaris and Jose Peralta, still combine the regions of Senators Tony Avella and Toby Ann Stavisky. Slight changes were also made to the first-ever Asian American majority district created in the initial maps.

Despite their districts no longer being threatened, both Gianaris and Peralta have spoken out against the maps and are hopeful Governor Andrew Cuomo follows through on his pledge to veto any partisan proposals.

“The lines have barely changed at all,” said Gianaris, who called the pairing of himself and Peralta a harassment tactic. “The first proposal is the worst gerrymandering in the history of New York State, and the second proposal is 98 percent as bad. The real problem is the way they are dividing communities around the state and that is what has yet to be fixed. The best hope now is for the governor to veto the lines and let the court do it fairly.”

Frank Sobrino, a spokesperson for Peralta, says the situation is “bigger” than the two senators, and the new lines do not provide any progress from the initial maps, which were considered to be “blatantly partisan.”

“I want the governor to follow up on his commitment to veto these lines,” Peralta said.

Scott Reif, spokesperson for the Senate GOP and LATFOR, says he expects the maps to be approved by both the Senate and Assembly.

“We expect these to be the final lines for the Senate and Assembly,” Reif said. “We held nine additional public hearings [across the state] and we made changes from what we were hearing from different communities.”

Along with the updated maps, LATFOR also introduced legislation that would create a bipartisan commission to draw district lines. Based on the bill, the commission would be composed of 10 members — two from each party from both the Senate and Assembly and an additional two members chosen by the initial eight.

If approved, the commission would be in charge of deciding district lines the next time they are up for revision in a decade — a length of time deemed unacceptable by many Democrats.

New district lines ‘as bad’ as before


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Recent revisions to district lines have done little to darn the disharmony between Republicans and Democrats.

The New York State Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment (LATFOR) — made up largely of Republican senators due to their current control of the chamber — released its updated district maps on March 12, angering Democrats due to the miniscule modifications made over the past month.

The new lines, which no longer couple the districts of Senators Michael Gianaris and Jose Peralta, still combine the regions of Senators Tony Avella and Toby Ann Stavisky. Slight changes were also made to the first-ever Asian American majority district created in the initial maps.

Despite their districts no longer being threatened, both Gianaris and Peralta have spoken out against the maps and are hopeful Governor Andrew Cuomo follows through on his pledge to veto any partisan proposals.

“The lines have barely changed at all,” said Gianaris, who called the pairing of himself and Peralta a harassment tactic. “The first proposal is the worst gerrymandering in the history of New York State, and the second proposal is 98 percent as bad. The real problem is the way they are dividing communities around the state and that is what has yet to be fixed. The best hope now is for the governor to veto the lines and let the court do it fairly.”

Frank Sobrino, a spokesperson for Peralta, says the situation is “bigger” than the two senators, and the new lines do not provide any progress from the initial maps, which were considered to be “blatantly partisan.”

“I want the governor to follow up on his commitment to veto these lines,” Peralta said.

Scott Reif, spokesperson for the Senate GOP and LATFOR, says he expects the maps to be approved by both the Senate and Assembly.

“We expect these to be the final lines for the Senate and Assembly,” Reif said. “We held nine additional public hearings [across the state] and we made changes from what we were hearing from different communities.”

Along with the updated maps, LATFOR also introduced legislation that would create a bipartisan commission to draw district lines, a measure many politicians have been calling for. Based on the bill, the commission would be composed of 10 members — two from each party from both the Senate and Assembly and an additional two members chosen by the initial eight.

If approved, the commission would be in charge of deciding district lines the next time they are up for revision in a decade — a length of time deemed unacceptable by many Democrats.

“That’s 10 years from now,” Sobrino said. “Each and every single Republican signed a pledge before they ran last time supporting an independent process. They didn’t say they were going to fix the situation 10 years from now. They said they were going to fix it now.”

Senate Redistricting plan is divisive


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Newly-drawn district lines may pit Senate Democrats against one another in a political dogfight.

Under the proposed plan, which was designed by the New York State Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment (LATFOR) — made up largely of Republican senators due to their current control of the chamber — Democratic Senate Campaign Committee Chair Michael Gianaris would face off with Senator Jose Peralta for the right to represent a single, heavily Hispanic district.

“With this brazenly political proposal, Senate Republicans have done more to hurt the cause of fair and independent redistricting in one day than advocates like myself have done to advance the cause after years of advocacy,” Gianaris said. “Today, Senate Republicans return us to the days when Albany was the most dysfunctional capital in the nation by bringing Tom DeLay’s brand of politics to New York. The people of this state will not stand for it, and neither should we.”

Peralta echoed his senatorial partner and potential rival by calling the new lines “egregious.”

“This is a case of petty, election-year politics as arrogant as it is obvious,” Peralta said. “The pledges to redistricting reform by Republicans clearly are not worth the ink used to sign them. If they have at least minimal respect for voters, Republicans will spare New Yorkers further hypocrisy and keep to themselves ridiculous claims that their bold-faced power grab was done in the name of minority enfranchisement.”

Longtime Senator Toby Ann Stavisky would also be matched against Senator Tony Avella — who assumed office in 2011 — sparking speculation that the GOP’s goal is to maintain its slender majority in the Senate by eliminating a number of incumbent Democrats.

The GOP lines also create the Senate’s first Asian-majority district in Flushing. The plan would expand the Senate to 63 members by creating a new seat in a reportedly Republican-dominated area outside of Albany, as well.

“We believe our plan is fair, legal and it protects minority voting interests,” said Scott Reif, a spokesperson for the Senate GOP and LATFOR. “We are very proud of the fact that we create the first Asian-American majority district in Queens centered in Flushing. We also maintain or strengthen every single African-American and Hispanic district in the city. This plan is based on population shifts which occurred over the last 10 years. There are a number of incumbents who are put together in the same district, but this is not based on politics. It is based on demographics and actions that the task force took are to protect minority voting rights.”

According to Reif, nine public hearings will be held throughout the state, during which the public can offer feedback on the plan. LATFOR will hold a hearing for Queens on Tuesday, February 7 at 3 p.m. in Room 213 of Queens Borough Hall, located at 120-55 Queens Boulevard in Kew Gardens.

Peralta, who believes there should be an independent process and commission drawing the lines, believes the notion that the plan was designed to unite communities is preposterous.

“Republicans say it is about brining communities together, but they divided the LeFrak buildings into two districts,” said the senator. “They took the southern part of my district in Elmhurst, which is highly Asian, and they divided it into two districts. The gerrymandering is hurting people because it dilutes the power of the vote. It dilutes the ability for people to come out and choose a candidate that matches their needs.”

Various community groups have expressed outrage over the district map, due to the lines’ dissonant effects on their neighborhoods.

The Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) has strongly objected the plan, which divides the neighborhood among three different senators.

“LATFOR’s decision to split up a one-square-mile neighborhood among three different senators is bewildering and has no basis in the character, demographics or needs of our community,” said Alexander Blenkinsopp, WRBA’s communications director. “When it comes to the Senate lines, the people of Woodhaven are being treated as pawns in Albany’s gerrymandering games.”

According to published reports, Governor Andrew Cuomo has promised to veto the plan, which he deems partisan.

Repeated attempts to contact the governor’s office went unreturned.

Former chair and district manager of Community Board 4, Richard Italiano, dies


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Richard Italiano, former chair and district manager of Community Board 4, passed away last week.

“Mr. Italiano’s passing leaves a great void in the heart of our community,” said Councilmember Julissa Ferreras. “He was a dedicated public servant who worked diligently and tirelessly in the community; this was truly his life work.”

“For decades, he served Queens with the utmost concern and passion, and with the belief that working together would always be the way to improve our community,” she continued. “To me, Richard was a close ally, friend, and constant advisor. Richard’s work will not go unrecognized and will live on in the work we all continue to do on matters in the neighborhoods close to his heart.”

Arrangements were handled by the Guida Funeral Home in Corona; funeral was held at St. Leo Parish.

“A tireless servant of our community, Richard was open and accessible,” said Senator Jose Peralta. “His spirit, leadership and friendship will be sorely missed.  I extend my heartfelt condolences to his loved ones and the many people whose lives he touched.”

Reward offered for swastika perp


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Photos Courtesy of Councilmember Daniel Dromm

The neighboring communities of Jackson Heights and Elmhurst are battling back against a string of hate crimes that recently rocked the region’s residents.

Beginning the night of November 2 and extending into the early hours of November 3, swastikas were drawn at three locations across the area — on the facades of the Jackson Heights and East Elmhurst branches of the Queens Library and on the door of the Congregation Tifereth Israel of Jackson Heights.

“A swastika should not be anywhere in public,” said Lana M., a Jackson Heights resident, who is Jewish on her mother’s side. “We need to spread peace, not hate. We want to enjoy life and we don’t want to be hated by anyone. You have to respect everyone’s religion. We have to make sure this doesn’t spread. We have to get the community together to wipe it out.”

A rally in response to the vandalisms was held on November 4, during which elected officials and local leaders spoke out against hate crimes.

“We stand here today to say no to hate,” said Councilmember Daniel Dromm. “We stand here today to say no to fear. We stand here today to say that hate and fear have no place in our community. We stand here today to say to those that committed these heinous crimes – you will be found, you will be prosecuted and you will not intimidate us. We will defeat you and your ugly ideas. We stand here today to fight back. We stand here today as Jackson Heights, a beautiful, diverse community of compassion, tolerance and understanding.”

The NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force is currently investigating the incidents, which are believed to be related.

Dromm announced at the rally that he has raised a $3,000 reward for anyone who provides information leading to the capture of the perpetrator, consisting of $500 contributions from Borough President Helen Marshall, Senator Jose Peralta, Assemblymember Michael DenDekker, Assemblymember Francisco Moya, Councilmember Julissa Ferreras and Councilmember Karen Koslowitz.

“I represent one of the most diverse districts in the country,” said Moya. “I take great pride in our diversity and the respect and understanding our community has for every resident’s different heritage. It is critical that we come together as a community and denounce the recent hate crimes that have occurred. We must also help our local police precinct in whatever way possible to lead to the arrest of the individuals that committed these cowardly attacks.”
Leaders urge anyone with information regarding these sincidents to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS.