Tag Archives: State Senator Michael Gianaris

Woodhaven manhole fires injure five, damage two vehicles


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy State Senator Michael Gianaris

Five people were injured and two vehicles damaged in a pair of manhole fires in Woodhaven early Thursday morning.

The fire department responded to the blaze on 88th Road and 75th Street just before 1 a.m., officials said, and the flames were under control around 2 a.m.

The fires, which awoke residents, were caused by a failure in underground electrical wiring and equipment, according to Con Edison.

The victims were taken to Jamaica Hospital for smoke inhalation.

Senator Michael Gianaris rushed over to the area after the fire was put out. He said the smell of fire was still lingering in the air and the street was blocked off. Gianaris was concerned about the trouble with the electrical system.

“Unfortunately this is not our first experience with Con Ed having problems with their infrastructure,” he said. “It was a little bit too familiar.”

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Five Astoria subway stations get system announcing train arrival time


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Benjamin Fang

BENJAMIN FANG 

Listen up riders.

The MTA installed an automated system that tells straphangers when the next train will arrive in five Astoria stations.

The announcement systems were added at the 39th Avenue, 36th Avenue, Broadway, 30th Avenue and Astoria Boulevard stations along the N and Q lines.

“I am pleased the MTA listened to our community and made the daily commute of N and Q train riders easier,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris, who has advocated for a countdown information system in western Queens since 2010. “Countdown clocks were a great idea three years ago and although it took some time, I am pleased to see that western Queens will now be able to enjoy real-time information.”

Acting New York City Transit president Carmen Bianco hopes lettered train lines will develop similar capabilities in the next three to five years. But in the meantime the voice systems are an upgrade.

“Waiting on an elevated platform in the dead of winter or the dog days of summer is no fun,” said Lauren Houston, a member of the Riders Alliance, an advocacy organization fighting for better public transportation. “With the new loudspeaker announcements I’ll know exactly when the next train is coming and how long I need to brave the elements.”

Local commuters said they like the new audio installment, but would prefer the countdown clocks on the screens.

“I wish it was the visual,” said Astoria resident Jose Luaces. “But it’s better than not having them.”

Additional reporting by Zack Kraehling

 

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Republican Arcabascio to run for Borough President


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

An Astoria technology professional is eyeing a Borough Hall run as a Republican, making the race for borough president a little tighter.

Aurelio “Tony” Arcabascio confirmed his candidacy and expects to receive county endorsement soon.

Arcabascio, who ran his own technology company for 13 years, made his debut in the political world last year when he ran an unsuccessful race against State Senator Michael Gianaris for District 12.

Now, looking to represent the whole borough, Arcabascio said he wants to bring his experience as the only non-elected official to the table.

“I haven’t been caught up in politics for my whole career,” he esaid.

A product of Jackson Heights, Arcabascio, 52, will face one of six Democrats vying for the spot: Councilmembers Leroy Comrie and Peter Vallone Jr., State Senators Jose Peralta and Tony Avella, former Councilmember and former Assemblymember Melinda Katz and former Deputy Borough President Barry Grodenchik.

The Dems will face off in a September 10 primary.

Arcabascio, who nabbed the GOP endorsement for Senate last year, expects to pick it back up for borough president. Queens Republican chair Phil Ragusa said the candidate is going through the screening process for the endorsement, and a formal announcement should come soon.

With his background in technology, Arcabascio said he is open to bringing more of the industry’s jobs to the borough, especially in western areas such as Long Island City and Maspeth.

“We have a lot of empty factories in Queens,” he said. “One of the things I believe would be my responsibility as the number one cheerleader for Queens is to get businesses here.”

 

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Department of Education: Gifted and talented classes will stay


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

The Department of Education (DOE) has decided to withdraw its controversial plan to cut the gifted and talented classes at P.S. 122. after last week’s meeting with concerned parents, teachers and elected officials from across School District 30.

“We’ve listened, and we know what an exceptional job P.S. 122 is doing with its G&T middle school students,” said DOE spokesperson Devon Puglia. “We’re going to take more time to think through the challenge, consider ways to ensure equity and excellence for all families, and re-engage with the community in the future.”

Since the announcement of the plan in February, members of District 30 and local officials have protested against the idea to reduce the classes at The Academy, a prestigious middle school gifted and talented program, in order to expand

P.S. 122’s general education classes from fifth to eighth grade.

“I am thrilled that the exemplary academic program at P.S. 122 will be preserved moving forward,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris. “P.S. 122 is a gem in our community that should be allowed to continue improving the lives of the children and parents of Astoria for years to come.”

Deborah Alexander, a District 30 parent who now sees a brighter future for her son and daughter, is excited to work with the DOE and discuss any upcoming proposed changes.

“It was truly amazing to see people from every corner of District 30 to come together for a common cause and it worked and it gives me a lot of hope going forward,” said Alexander.

Alexander hopes their victory will give hope to other communities going through similar circumstances and who might feel like they are in a David and Goliath situation.

“Sometimes David does win,” said Alexander.

 

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G train to undergo full review by MTA


| hchin@homereporternews.com

Photo courtesy of the Office of State Senator Michael Gianaris

G train riders are one step closer to getting changes and improvements enacted on their subway line.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has agreed to “undertake a Full Line Review of the G train” and the review will be completed by the end of June 2013,” the transit agency announced on Friday, February 22. Residents and politicians signed a petition and rallied in January to pressure the MTA to begin addressing ongoing problems on the train line.

“I am pleased our efforts to push the MTA to improve G train service prompted the agency into action, resulting in today’s announcement of a full-line review to be completed by this June,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris, who has pushed for the MTA’s review along with State Senator Daniel Squadron and several area officials. “The G train is a lifeline for New Yorkers traveling between Queens and Brooklyn, and  I am hopeful the MTA will expeditiously implement much needed improvements so this line can better serve our commuters.”

 

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Pols call for review of ‘G’ train performance


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Office of State Senator Michael Gianaris

An important transit option for Queens and Brooklyn, local politicians are calling for the MTA to review the “G” line and its numerous service issues.

The train, which travels from Long Island City to Kensington, Brooklyn, and is the only subway line that doesn’t go through Manhattan, was extended recently to Church Avenue.

But that change didn’t remedy other issues, such as frequency of trains, communication with riders about service changes and disruptions, and the lack of free out-of system transfers.

These complaints were highlighted in a recent petition campaign by the Riders Alliance, and in a letter to the MTA’s interim president, Thomas Prendergast.

Sent by State Senators Daniel Squadron and Martin Malavé Dilan, the letter asked for a full performance review of the “G” line, as the MTA did with the “F” and “L” trains.

The request is also supported by over a dozen other politicians and transit advocates.

“Constant service disruptions, a lack of service change notifications and increased commuter expenses due to limited free transfers make clear that the MTA treats the G train like the ugly duckling of the MTA system,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris, who attended the Rally For a Better G Train held in Williamsburg yesterday. “It should provide commuters with direct, convenient access between Queens and Brooklyn, rather than forcing travel through Manhattan to get from one borough to the other.”

“The G Train is critical to residents and businesses throughout Brooklyn and a key connection for the growing number of workers commuting between Brooklyn and Queens. Everything possible should be done to ensure this important subway line keeps pace with the thriving communities it serves,” said Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives.

 

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NY passes toughest gun laws in country


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Governor Cuomo's flickr

Less than a week after Governor Andrew Cuomo promised to make New York the leader in gun safety, the State Legislature voted in favor of the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement, or NY SAFE Act, that would effectively keep weapons away from the mentally ill and crack down on illegal guns.

The State Senate voted 43-18 in favor of a broad gun package around 11 p.m. on Monday, January 14; the Assembly voted 104-43 the following day, after hours of debate, to make the bill official.

Many opponents in the Assembly argued the bill was hastily thrown together in order for the state to be an example for the country. As a result, opponents said, registered gun owners would suffer.

Cuomo ratified the bill at the Capitol shortly after the Assembly’s approval:

“This was an extraordinary accomplishment by the legislature of this state,” Cuomo said before signing the bill. “This is a gun control bill if you will that actually exercises common sense.”

Cuomo said the limitations and amendments in the bill would not harm legal owners.

Limiting gun magazines to seven bullets was necessary, Cuomo said, “because the high capacity of magazines that give you the capacity to kill a large number of human beings in a very short time is not sensible for a civil society.” The seven-bullet cap, he added, would be enough for hunters and target shooters, while being too little for a gunman to do harm before police can respond.

People who are deemed unsafe to own a weapon by mental health professionals will have their licenses revoked or suspended under the bill. It also extends Kendra’s Law through 2017 to provide additional out-patient care for the mentally ill.

Assault weapons will now be banned under a “one-feature” test that will examine if a weapon has a detachable magazine that is associated with military weapons. The state formerly had a “two-feature” test that also factored in a gun that was semi-automatic.

Gun owners with weapons that will fall under this ban have one year to register the weapon with State Police from the bill’s effective date.

Queens senators immediately spoke to the success of the bill passing, promising that it would help make both the state and the borough safer against gun violence.

“As the first state in the nation to act on the need for more sensible gun laws following the horrific shootings in Webster, New York and Newtown, Connecticut,” said Senator Michael Gianaris. “New York is saying “enough” and establishing itself as a leader in the fight against the brutal gun culture plaguing our nation. An early advocate for more sensible gun laws, I am proud one of my proposals is included in the NY Safe Act, whose passage sets the bar for the rest of the country to save the lives of innocent people.”

Senator Jose Peralta said the passage was the first step in curbing gun violence and aiding police to fight crime. The next step, he said, was to push for micro stamping on weapons, which would help crime fighters track guns.

“We also need to make it easier for law enforcement to put gun criminals in jail by making use of available technology,” he said. “That’s why we need to enact microstamping legislation, which has the support of police and prosecutors throughout the state.”

Senator Malcolm Smith, who has pushed for tougher gun laws in wake of the violence last summer, said the bill was a bipartisan success as gun violence affects all New Yorkers, regardless of party or location.

“Gun violence is a problem that affects all of us, urban and rural, Republican and Democrat,” he said. “That’s why we worked so hard on a bipartisan basis to address this critical problem.”

Smith dedicated the bill’s passage to mothers and families in southeast Queens who have lost their sons to gun violence.

“I hope today’s vote provides some level of comfort to the grieving mothers – Donna Hood, Shanee Johnson, and the families of Lloyd Morgan, Kenneth Archbold all of whom lost a love one due to the use of illegal guns.”

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Thursday: Partly cloudy. High of 48. Winds from the NW at 10 to 15 mph. Thursday night: Clear in the evening, then partly cloudy. Low of 36. Winds less than 5 mph. Chance of rain 20%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Urinetown: The Musical

Winner of three Tony awards and one of the most uproariously funny musicals in recent years, Urinetown is a hilarious tale of greed, corruption, love and revolution in a time when water is worth its weight in gold. In a Gotham-like city, a terrible water shortage, caused by a 20-year drought, has led to a government-enforced ban on private toilets. Performances start Thursday, January 10 and continue through Saturday, January 26 at The Secret Theatre in Long Island City. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Crane collapses in Long Island City, injuring seven

Seven workers suffered minor injuries when a crane collapsed at a Long Island City building site. Read more: Queens Courier

Cuomo takes aim at guns, Sandy relief during State of the State address

Governor Andrew Cuomo has vowed New York will become the nation’s leader in gun safety laws in wake of recent shootings. Read more: Queens Courier

Seastreak Wall Street Ferry saw other problems before crash

The Seastreak Wall Street ferry that crashed in Lower Manhattan Wednesday has had a few minor incidents in recent years. Read more: CBS New York

Cheating teacher the answer man: probe

A Queens elementary- school teacher brazenly helped fourth-graders cheat on the state’s high-stakes English exams, even though there was a second proctor in the room, investigators found. Read more: New York Post

Breezy Point couple surprised with newly renovated home after it was destroyed by Sandy

An octogenarian Queens couple whose house was ravaged by Superstorm Sandy received a surprise gift on Wednesday — a brand new home. Read more: New York Daily News

Report: Queens Native Will Likely Head Up Treasury Dept.

President Barack Obama is reportedly set to tap a native New Yorker to serve as the new head of the United States Treasury Department. Read more: NY1

NYC firm hit hard on 9/11 gives $10M in Sandy aid

The New York City brokerage firm that lost 658 employees in the Sept. 11 terror attacks announced that it will “adopt” 19 schools in communities hit hard by Superstorm Sandy and will give each family in those schools $1,000 to spend as they see fit. Read more: AP

Crane collapses in Long Island City, injuring seven


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alexa Altman

Seven workers suffered minor injuries when a crane collapsed at a Long Island City building site.

Around 2:20 p.m. today,  firefighters responded to the incident at Center Boulevard and 46th Avenue, where they discovered three workers trapped beneath the fallen crane. According to Deputy Fire Chief Mark Ferran, the trapped individuals were extricated from the scene and taken to an area hospital, along with four other workers who suffered non-life-threatening injuries. No civilians were injured in the crash.

Several dozen workers were at the scene when the crane fell.

According to Ferran, the cause of the crane collapse is under investigation by Department of Buildings (DOB) engineers.

Diana Sanchez saw the crane collapse from her apartment in the building across the street. She said the crane shook as it attempted to lift loads of metal she believed to be too heavy for the device. She grew nervous as she watched the beleaguered apparatus. Then, it snapped.

“Everyone was screaming and running,” she said.

Sanchez said that following the recent collapse of a crane in Manhattan and the increase in construction jobs in Long Island City, she has been concerned about one collapsing nearby for some time.

The Maspeth-based company that manufactures the crane, New York Crane, declined to comment.

The same company was involved in a deadly 2008 crane collapse on the Upper East Side.

Its owner, James Lomma, was charged with manslaughter, but was found not guilty.

The crane from today’s accident was last approved for use by the DOB in October, according to the Daily News.

“Such accidents are avoidable, and I am hopeful a comprehensive investigation will be conducted to discover why today’s frightening incident occurred,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris.

Officials from TF Cornerstone, the building’s developer, were on scene but denied comment on the incident. The building is one of several built by TF Cornerstone as part of the revitalization of the Long Island City waterfront.

Photo Twitter/@UnSweetTee

 

-With additional reporting by Cristabelle Tumola 

 

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