Tag Archives: superstorm sandy

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


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Governor Cuomo's Flickr

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

At his annual State of the State address on January 9, Cuomo put forth a seven-point agenda that would lead to some of the tightest gun regulations in the country – particularly aimed at assault weapons and multi-round ammunition clips.

“I know that the issue of gun control is hard,” an energized Cuomo said during his closing remarks. “But we are proposing today common sense measures. It’s simple: no one hunts with an assault rifle. No one needs 10 bullets to kill a deer.”

Cuomo’s seven points are: the toughest assault rifle ban in the country; closing a private sale loophole by requiring background checks; banning high-capacity magazines; harsher penalties for illegal gun use; keeping guns away from the mentally ill; blocking direct Internet sales of ammunition in the state; and creating a state check on all ammunition purchases.

While the governor wants to crack down on high-powered rifles, he clarified any new gun legislation would not harm legal gun owners and would be a balanced plan.

“This is not taking away people’s guns,” Cuomo said. It is “about ending the unnecessary risk of high-capacity assault rifles.”

Relief and moving forward after Sandy dominated a good portion of Cuomo’s hour-and-a-half address.

On delayed federal aid, Cuomo called on Congress to stop “playing politics” and give relief to New York and New Jersey residents who desperately need it. The $9.7 billion initially passed Friday, January 4 for flood insurance was not enough, Cuomo said, and more had to be done.

“My friends, that [$9 billion] is just too little and that is too late,” he said. “This has long been established that in the face of a disaster, the federal government comes in to help.”

Cuomo promised the city as a whole would come back bigger and better, by remaking homes to last and resist future storms, especially in coastal regions. Raising homes in areas such as Rockaway could prevent future flooding like that during Sandy’s surge. The state also plans on buying parcels of land from residents who want to relocate to higher-elevated areas.

This also includes better precautionary measures for tunnels and subways. Though this would be costly for the state, Cuomo said he wants to do it now to prevent the city from shutting down in the way it did after Sandy.

“We can rebuild a better society than we had,” he said.

 

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Governor Cuomo to give State of the State address Wednesday


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Governor Cuomo's Flickr

Two years into his first term as governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo will deliver his annual State of the State address today at 1:30 p.m. from Albany.

In addition to discussing Sandy recovery, Cuomo is expected to propose an assault weapons ban.

In case you miss it, we’ll be posting a recap on QueensCourier.com.

Here are some facts about the State of the State from the governor’s website:

  • The State of the State address allows the governor to lay out his yearly agenda for the legislators and the people of New York.
  • Article XIII section 4 of the state constitution sets the day for the beginning of the legislative term as the first Wednesday after the first Monday in the month of January.
  • The State of the State address was traditionally held in the assembly chamber until Governor Andrew Cuomo moved it to the convention center.
  • Even today, the actual State of the State is a document given by the governor to the legislative leaders and not the speech that accompanies it.
  • The State of the State address used to be known as the Governor’s Annual Message until 1975 when Governor Hugh Carey referred to it as the State of the State.
  • Only three governors, Charles Poletti, John Tayler and Horace White, have never given a State of the State message.
  • Colonial governors gave speeches, but our first governors after winning Independence thought that was too pretentious and so instead delivered a written message to the legislature.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Wednesday: Partly cloudy. High of 48. Winds from the SSW at 5 to 15 mph. Wednesday Night: Clear. Low of 36. Winds from the West at 10 to 15 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Indians in the Caribbean

A photographic exhibition of arts, culture and nation building (1900-1950) at the Rajkumari Cultural Center in Richmond Hill, Indians in the Caribbean shows the life of arts and culture, scholarship and commerce, politics and civics in countries like Guyana, Suriname and Caribbean Islands like Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Rockaway beaches to open Memorial Day weekend: officials
Residents in the Sandy-ravaged Rockaways packed into a community board meeting Tuesday night to discuss the future of their wrecked boardwalk. Read more: NBC New York

Park advocates slam U.S. Tennis Association expansion plan

Park advocates aren’t showing much love to a plan for a $500 million expansion of a premiere tennis center in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. Read more: New York Daily News

Cuomo to press for wider curbs on gun access

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, pushing New York to become the first state to enact major new gun laws in the wake of the massacre in Newtown, Conn., plans on Wednesday to propose one of the country’s most restrictive bans on assault weapons. Read more: New York Times 

Quinn brushes off report that Bloomberg is eyeing other mayoral candidates

For some time now, it was unquestioned that New York City Council Speaker and mayoral hopeful Christine Quinn would have the backing of Mayor Michael Bloomberg. But that’s not a sure thing, according to a report. Read more: CBS New York 

More anti-Muslim ads go up in NYC subways

The group that equated Muslim radicals with savages in advertisements last year has put up another set of provocative ads in dozens of New York City subway stations. Read more: Wall Street Journal 

Brooklyn Nets player questioned in Philly sex assault claim

Philadelphia police are investigating reports of a sexual assault that may have involved a Brooklyn Nets team member. Read more: NY1 

2012 was hottest year on record in U.S., climate agency says

The year 2012 was the warmest on record for the contiguous United States, beating the previous record by a full degree in temperature, a government climate agency said on Tuesday. Read more: Reuters

Family of Sandy’s first victim to sue city


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan/Laino photo courtesy of Facebook

The family of the Flushing man tragically killed by a felled tree during Sandy plans to sue the city after they said they fought in vain for at least a decade to get the towering threat removed, legal sources said.

A notice of claim has been filed on behalf of Tony Laino, 29, who was pinned under a tremendous tree that ripped through his bedroom in the upper left portion of his two-story home at 47-34 166th Street on October 29.

Laino, considered the storm’s first New York City victim, was pronounced dead at approximately 7 p.m., police said.

“Tony Laino was unnecessarily killed by a tree that didn’t belong there,” said the family’s attorney, Rosemarie Arnold. “It shouldn’t have been planted there to begin with. It was overgrown, rotten and improperly pruned.”

Arnold said these fatal factors caused the tree to fall when it was confronted by predicted 80 miles per hour hurricane winds.

“The city knew about everything years before it happened,” she said.

The victim’s parents, Carol and Robert Laino, and one of his two brothers, Nicholas Laino, are gearing up to sue the city for emotional, mental distress and monetary damages, including funeral and burial expenses, according to the notice of claim obtained by The Queens Courier.

New York City and its Parks Department were “grossly negligent, wanton, reckless, purposeful and/or breached their duties,” which led to Laino’s “wrongful and untimely death,” the claim said.

Family and neighbors said the disaster could have been averted if the city listened to their numerous complaints made over a decade about the enormous tree looming over the Lainos’ home.

“I’ve been telling them to take this tree down for 20 years,” said Bobby Laino, Tony’s other brother, who lived apart from his family and who is not listed as a claimant.

According to Arnold, the Lainos’ house deed shows the tree was on city, not private, property.

The Parks Department directed comment to the city’s Law Department, which said officials would evaluate the new claim.

“We recognize that this incident involves a loss of life, which is tragic,” department spokesperson, Elizabeth Thomas, said in a statement.

The amount the family plans to sue for was not yet determined, Arnold said.

Laino was the youngest of three brothers and a worked as a driver for Ace Party & Tent Rental, his friends said.

“[The family is] heartbroken,” Arnold said. “They’re beyond heartbroken.”

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Tuesday: Partly cloudy. High of 52. Winds from the SW at 10 to 15 mph. Tuesday night: Overcast in the evening, then clear. Low of 37. Winds from the WSW at 5 to 10 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Best Flicks of 2012

This seven-film series at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, opens with The Deep Blue Sea, the portrayal of a woman who abandons her passionless marriage to a wealthy barrister to enter a torrid affair with a troubled former Royal Air Force pilot. Other films in the series include The Turin Horse, Neighboring Sounds, This Is Not a Film, Moonrise Kingdom, Cosmopolis and In Another Country. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Students return to Far Rockaway school damaged by Sandy

Students returned to classes Monday at The Bay School in the Far Rockaway section of Queens for the first time since Hurricane Sandy. Read more: NY1

Elected officials review Queens library system’s slow recovery from Sandy

The Queens Library was not spared by Hurricane Sandy and now the system is trying to recover from $7.5 million in damage caused by the storm, including 100,000 books damaged in four branches in the Rockaways. Read more: NY1

2 women critical after carbon monoxide incident

Two women were critical after being overcome by carbon monoxide poisoning during an apparent boiler leak in a home in Queens. Read more: ABC New York

Teachers union blasts Bloomberg for NRA comments

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is under fire for radio remarks in which he compared the teachers union to the National Rifle Association. Read more: ABC New York

“Dating Game Killer” gets 25 years to life for NYC slayings

A California serial killer and one-time contestant on “The Dating Game” was sentenced Monday to another 25 years to life for killing two women in New York in the 1970s. Read more: NBC New York

Flu outbreak in 2013 expected to be among the worst in decade, CDC warns

This year’s flu outbreak is one of the worst in 10 years, according to experts — and a quick glance around your half-empty office.Read more: New York Daily News

Giffords, Kelly launch gun control initiative

Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband launched an initiative aimed at curbing gun violence on Tuesday, the second anniversary of the Tucson shooting that killed six people and left her critically injured. Read more: AP

Record low fire fatalities, ambulance response time in 2012


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

In 2012, there was a record low of 58 civilian fire deaths in New York City.

Last year was a banner year for public safety, say officials.

In 2012, the FDNY had the fewest civilian fire deaths and fastest average ambulance response times for life-threatening medical emergencies in New York City history, announced Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano.

“With record low number of murders and shootings and the fewest fire deaths in our city’s history, 2012 was a historic year for public safety,” said Bloomberg.

Last year there were 58 fire deaths, a decline of 12 percent compared to 2011, four fewer fatalities than the previous record set in 2010, and a 43 percent decline since 2001.

There were not working smoke detectors in most of the fire deaths in 2012, and the top causes were accidental electrical fires, smoking, incendiary fires and cooking related.

Structural fire response time in 2012, at 4:04, was two seconds higher than the previous year, but that was partially due to Superstorm Sandy, said the FDNY.

During the storm, there were 21 serious fires that destroyed around 200 homes and businesses, including more than 120 homes in Breezy Point.

At 6:31, EMS response time improved despite a 3.4 percent increase in call volume, breaking the record low set in 2010.

Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, chair of the City Council’s fire committee, stressed that these records might not have been set without efforts from the city council to fight the mayor’s proposed closing of as many as 20 fire companies.

“We can’t afford cuts to firehouses, and I will continue working with my colleagues to ensure the FDNY receives the required resources to keep us safe,” said Crowley.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Monday: Partly cloudy. High of 45. Winds from the NNW at 10 to 15 mph. Monday night: Clear in the evening, then partly cloudy. Low of 34. Winds less than 5 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Japanese Classical Dance for Kids at Resobox

This workshop for kids ages 8-11 at Resobox in Long Island City teaches the 400-year-old nichibu dance popularized in kabuki. Performer and writer Helen Moss leads the class in the elegant Soke Fujima style. All experience levels are welcome, and all materials, including fans and kimonos, are provided. Starts at 5:30 p.m. Classes for ages 12 and above follow at 6:30pm. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

NYC school bus drivers will not strike Monday: union

New York City school bus drivers will not strike on Monday, a union spokesperson told NBC New York Sunday night, but that doesn’t mean a work stoppage still isn’t possible in the days ahead. Read more: NBC New York

Marketing campaign targets Sandy victims with threats of hefty fines

A firm that cleans up oils spills is preying on Sandy-battered homeowners by circulating an official looking letter threatening hefty fines, angry residents said. Read more: New York Daily News

Teachers irate as Bloomberg likens union to the N.R.A.

Of all the polarizing things Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has said and done over the years, from banning large sugary drinks to supporting congestion pricing, few have generated the sort of viral backlash that has unexpectedly mounted after his weekly radio show on Friday. Read more: New York Times

Obama signs bill for federal flood insurance for Sandy victims

President Barack Obama has signed into law a bill that releases $9.7 billion for a flood insurance program for Hurricane Sandy victims. Read more: NY1

Storm panel recommends major changes in New York

A new commission formed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, charged with figuring out how New York should adapt in the long term to cope with worsening storms amid climate change and population growth, has recommended an extensive menu of programs: it includes turning some of the state’s industrial shoreline back into oyster beds, hardening the electric and natural gas systems, and improving the scope and availability of insurance coverage, according to a draft version obtained by The New York Times. Read more: New York Times

Business interest group takes on New York’s run-down airports

Business leaders embarrassed by the sorry state of the city’s airports have formed a new advocacy group to press for improvements. Read more: New York Daily News

Obama taps Hagel for Pentagon, Brennan for CIA

President Barack Obama on Monday will nominate Chuck Hagel as his next defense secretary and counterterrorism adviser John Brennan to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, two potentially controversial picks for his second-term national security team. Read more: AP

 

 

Parker Jewish weathers Superstorm Sandy


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Throughout Sandy and its aftermath, the residents, patients and staff of the Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care and Rehabilitation remained safe and comfortable, and programs and services went on as scheduled.

“The dedication of Parker’s staff, combined with years of careful emergency planning and preparedness drills [empowered] Parker, literally, to weather the storm,” said Michael N. Rosenblut, President and CEO.

Outside of the New Hyde Park facility, Parker also responded to requests for assistance in areas of New York City and Nassau County, and cared for evacuees from Brooklyn’s Shore View Nursing Home, Far Rockaway’s St. John’s Episcopal Hospital and Long Beach’s Komanoff Center for Geriatric and Rehabilitation Medicine.

Aside from patient care, Parker also published and disseminated regular information bulletins and established a 24-hour hotline to update the surrounding communities on services related to the storm. Also, similar to Hurricane Irene, Parker’s medical transportation division, Lakeville Ambulette Transportation, LLC, and its staff provided key assistance to many displaced by the storm.

Additionally, Parker’s gift shop became an official Community Voting Center to facilitate voting for the November presidential elections, not only for its own residents and patients, but also for evacuees who were being cared for at Parker, and for community residents whose polling locations were impacted by the storm.

Congress approves $9.7B in Sandy aid


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

After the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelming passed 9.7 billion in Sandy aid Friday, 354-67, the Senate unanimously approved it later that afternoon.

The money will go towards flood insurance claims for Sandy-damaged homes and businesses.

A vote on the remaining $51 billion in storm aid will take place January 15.

“Belated as the bill may be, I am pleased the House was able to finally act today on a piece of the vital Superstorm Sandy disaster relief legislation to increase borrowing authority by FEMA on behalf of the National Flood Insurance Program. This action, however, is woefully insufficient in addressing the significant concerns and needs of millions affected by last fall’s storm,” said Congressmember Gregory Meeks.

“Today’s action by the House was a necessary and critical first step towards delivering aid to the people of New York and New Jersey. While we are pleased with this progress, today was just a down payment and it is now time to go even further and pass the final and more complete, clean disaster aid bill. We are trusting Congress to act accordingly on January 15th and pass the final $51 billion instrumental for long-term rebuilding in order for New Jersey, New York and our people to recover after the severe devastation of Hurricane Sandy,” said Governors Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie in a joint statement.

Today’s approval came after several politicians publicly criticized Speaker John Boehner earlier this week for adjourning the House before voting on the $60 billion Sandy relief package.

Following the criticism, Boehner promptly scheduled a vote on the legislation.

President Obama, who urged the House to vote and pass the aid money, is expected to sign today’s approved bill.

PHOTOS: Eerie sand dunes created in the Rockaways after Sandy


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo by Stephane Missier

Photographer Stephane Missier took these photos in the parking lot of Jacob Riis Park in the Rockaways. The man-made sand dunes, which Missier compares to an “eerie lunar landscape,” are made out of sifted sand from the streets following Superstorm Sandy.

“Polished by the cold winter wind, these artificial cones formed an eerie lunar landscape. The presence of all kinds of construction and hauling trucks on the site as well as conveyor belts, generators, watch towers, and pole lights, gave me the impression of being on another some kind of a spatial station. The wind was pretty strong too and really accentuated that lunar feel.” Missier wrote on his website.

 

See more photos of the sand dunes here.

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Friday: Clear in the morning, then partly cloudy. High of 37 with a windchill as low as 19F. Breezy. Winds from the West at 15 to 20 mph with gusts to 30 mph. Friday night: Clear in the evening, then partly cloudy. Low of 28F with a windchill as low as 19. Breezy. Winds from the WNW at 15 to 20 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: First Look Film Series

This annual showcase at the Museum of the Moving Image presents groundbreaking international cinema. Many of this year’s films take the form of journeys—geographical, emotional and artistic—with 26 works from a dozen countries. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Sandy-battered Rockaway businesses struggle to pay rent to absentee landlord

A pair of Rockaway stores that survived floods, tens of thousand dollars in losses and the exodus of customers due to Sandy now face a new challenge — battling an absentee landlord who wants them to pay up or move out. Read more: New York Daily News

House sets Friday vote for Sandy aid after criticism

The House is headed for a vote on aid for Superstorm Sandy victims after House Speaker John Boehner mollified Republicans from New York and New Jersey upset with his decision to cancel action on the bill. Read more: ABC New York

Meng, Jeffries among 84 new Congress members sworn in

New York City has two new members of Congress. Hakeem Jeffries, representing the Eighth District in Brooklyn and Queens, which includes Bedford-Stuyvesant, Coney Island and Howard Beach, and Grace Meng, of the Sixth District in Queens, which stretches from Ridgewood to Bayside, were among the 84 new members of Congress sworn in Thursday. Read more: NY1

Special election to determine replacement for Sanders’ Council Seat

Voters will be asked to head to the polls and choose a candidate in a special election to replace outgoing City Councilman James Sanders Jr. Read more: NY1

Attempted murder at Long Island mall

Police on Long Island say a man tried to kill another man in a mall parking lot. Read more: Fox New York

House chooses Boehner as speaker again despite dissent

Despite a rocky few weeks during the “fiscal cliff” fight, John Boehner won re-election as speaker of the House of Representatives on Thursday and will again lead Republicans as they take on the White House over federal spending. Read more: Reuters 

 

 

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Thursday: Overcast in the morning, then partly cloudy. High of 36 with a windchill as low as 18. Winds from the NW at 5 to 10 mph. Thursday night: Partly cloudy. Low of 27 with a windchill as low as 18. Winds from the West at 10 to 15 mph.

EVENT of the DAY: There There 

There There  is a wildly unpredictable theatrical roller coaster about being the wrong person in the wrong place at the wrong time doing the wrong things. Christopher Walken, on tour in Russia with a solo show, mysteriously falls off a ladder and is unable to perform. Karen, who apparently proofread the script once, is asked to fill in. On until January 12 at the Chocolate Factory in Long Island City. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Queens schools damaged by Sandy welcome students back

On the first school day of 2013, students at P.S. 207 were finally back in their building. Read more: NY1

Off-duty cop charged with DWI in Queens

An off-duty New York City police officer was arrested Wednesday and charged with driving while intoxicated and fleeing an accident in Queens. Read more: CBS New York

Boehner sets House votes on Sandy aid after Republican attacks

House Speaker John Boehner abruptly reversed course on Wednesday and set a timetable to approve $60 billion in Superstorm Sandy relief, after fellow Republicans including New Jersey Governor Chris Christie heaped scorn on his cancellation of an earlier vote. Read more: Reuters

Hillary Clinton released from NYC hospital after being treated for blood clot 

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was discharged from New York Presbyterian Hospital Wednesday evening and her medical team is confident she will “make a full recovery.” Read more: CBS New York

Chef sues Citi Field food contractor Aramark

He says they took him right out of the old ball game. A former Citi Field chef has sued stadium food contractor Aramark because they fired him after he took a short time off after suffering chest pain, according to a Brooklyn federal court lawsuit. Read more: New York Post

New York City launches $500K grant program for local media and entertainment small businesses

Lights, camera, money. The city has launched a $500,000 training grant program for local small businesses that specialize in media and entertainment. Read more: New York Daily News

Congress ushering in new members, with old divide

Congress is ushering in the new and the old – dozens of eager freshmen determined to change Washington and the harsh reality of another stretch of bitterly divided government. Read more: AP

Local pols angry over Sandy bill delay


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Though the House of Representatives managed to pass legislation before falling over the fiscal cliff, it didn’t vote on a $60 billion Sandy relief package before the end of the current house session on Wednesday.

But this afternoon Speaker John Boehner said that the House would vote on the storm aid by January 15.

That statement followed a chorus of criticism from local politicians who know how desperate their constituents are for the relief money.

“This failure to come to the aid of Americans following a severe and devastating natural disaster is unprecedented. The fact that days continue to go by while people suffer, families are out of their homes, and men and women remain jobless and struggling during these harsh winter months is a dereliction of duty. When American citizens are in need we come to their aid. That tradition was abandoned in the House last night,” said Governors Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie in a joint statement.

Katrina emergency relief legislation was passed less than month from the time the hurricane hit. It’s been 66 days since Sandy devastated parts of the Northeast.

“New Yorkers continue to suffer from the havoc Sandy wreaked upon our region, and they desperately need help now,” said U.S. congressmember-elect Grace Meng, who will be sworn in tomorrow in Washington D.C.

“I call on House Republicans to reconsider their misguided decision, and immediately hold a vote in the opening days of the new congress. People cannot wait any longer,” she continued.

The next House session, which starts Thursday, will include Meng and the other newly elected members.

Congressmember Steve Israel, who represents areas of Queens and Long Island, echoed the outrage of other politicians.

“In the very last minute they pulled the rug from under us,” he told Fox 5 New York. “When it came to New Yorkers and people in NJ they said no. It is simply indefensible. There is going to be a delay in getting these funds to the people who need them. It was John Boehner and Eric Cantor who turned their backs on New Yorkers and New Jerseyans.”

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Wednesday: Overcast. High of 36 with a windchill as low as 14F. Winds from the NW at 10 to 15 mph. Wednesday night: Overcast. Low of 25. Winds from the WNW at 5 to 10 mph.

EVENT of the DAY: 3D Theater Presentation: The Last Reef

At the New York Hall of Science’s 3D Theater Presentation: The Last Reef fly across iridescent tropical reefs, brush through a cloud of a million jellyfish,and visit an alien world where the tiniest creatures support the greatest predators. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

House staves off fiscal cliff, but more money squabbles lie ahead

After exhaustive negotiations that strained the country’s patience, the House approved a bill to avert the dreaded fiscal cliff, staving off widespread tax increases and deep spending cuts. Read more: CNN

Thieves strike Howard Beach church twice

On New Year’s Day at St. Helen’s Church parishioners prayed, but it was their faith in their fellow man that may have been shaken. Read more: ABC New York

City Council to DA: Sandy looters should be ‘sentenced in the most aggressive way possible given their disgraceful nature’

City Council members want lowlifes who took advantage of the devastation from Hurricane Sandy to commit crimes to pay a high price for their deeds. Read more: New York Daily News

New York City school bus strike averted, for now

New York City officials are breathing a sigh of relief after a school bus drivers’ union decided not to strike. Read more: ABC New York

New York area lawmakers lash House GOP leaders for inaction on Superstorm Sandy relief bill

New York area-lawmakers in both parties erupted in anger late Tuesday night after learning the House Republican leadership decided to allow the current term of Congress to end without holding a vote on aid for victims of Superstorm Sandy. Read more: CBS News

New York County denies request for names of gun permit holders

Authorities in a suburban county north of New York City said on Tuesday they will refuse to release names of local gun permit holders to a newspaper that has been publishing the identities of thousands of license-holding residents. Read more: Reuters

Christmas tree recycling begins Wednesday in NYC

The holiday season is officially behind us now, and it’s time to recycle that Christmas tree. Read more: CBS New York

 

2012: A year in pictures


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Breezy Point Sandy

JANUARY

Fire bomber charged in hate crime: Ray Lazier Lengend, 40, confessed to a string of five fire bombings, four in Queens and one on Long Island. No one was injured in the attacks and Lengend was charged with a hate crime.

Queens native named Obama chief of staff: Forest Hills native Jacob Lew, an orthodox Jew, was named President Barack Obama’s chief of staff in a ceremony at the White House on January 14. Lew, 56, grew up on Yellowstone Boulevard and graduated from Forest Hills High School in 1972.

Worst landlords named: A list released by Public Advocate Bill de Blasio named the 50 worst landlords throughout the city, including 15 with dozens of properties in Queens. The dishonor roll, based on complaints and violations over the past year, was compiled to warn residents searching for apartments.

Flushing nurses protest: About 200 registered nurses at Flushing Hospital rallied outside the facility after their contracts expired in December. The nurses protested for better healthcare, pay and pension benefits.

FEBRUARY

Giants win Super Bowl: For the second time in five years, the New York Giants defeated the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. Eli Manning was named MVP of the Giants 21-17 victory.

Con Ed heroes: Four Con Edison employees — John Kane, John McDonnell, Michael Santeramo and Anthony Farmighetti — rushed to the aid of the victim of a violent purse snatching in Bayside before chasing after the suspect.

NY goes Lin-sane: New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin took New York and Madison Square Garden by storm after entering the team’s starting lineup in February. Lin-sanity took over the city as the unheralded, undrafted Harvard graduate played like an MVP and helped lead the Knicks to the playoffs.

FreshDirect heads to Bronx: FreshDirect, an online fresh food grocer, announced they will move their operations from Long Island City and leave the borough for larger facilities in the Bronx, taking with them 2,000 Queens jobs.

MARCH

Heejun Han on ‘American Idol’: Flushing-native Heejun Han sang his way into the hearts of millions of Americans each week on the hit singing competition. Han made it all the way to the top nine before being eliminated.

Peninsula Hospital closure announced: Bankruptcy and instability at Far Rockaway’s Peninsula Hospital forced the medical center to close its doors leaving the peninsula with just one hospital, St. John’s Episcopal.

FedEx moves to LIC: FedEx announced plans to open a new, 14,000-square-foot FedEx Ground distribution center costing $56 million on Borden Avenue in LIC. The facility will be larger and contain more automated package sorting systems than the existing station in Maspeth, allowing the company to better serve the area.

Woodhaven drug ring busted by FBI: A drug ring headquartered in Woodhaven known as the Perez Organization was busted by the FBI for allegedly distributing over 20 kilograms of heroin, possessing a street value of around $2.75 million, to drug dealers in Queens and Long Island.

APRIL

Driver arrested after leaving toddler on empty school bus: A private bus driver was arrested on April 12 after she left her vehicle unattended in Corona with a toddler still aboard. Police broke a window on the bus and removed two-year-old Samantha Bustamante, who they believe was left alone for roughly 15 minutes. Bustamante — who was in good physical condition, according to EMS — was taken back to the 110th Precinct, where she was reunited with her mother. The bus driver, 62-year-old Ana Garcia, was charged with failure to exercise control of a minor.

Hero firefighter saves woman: Firefighter James Goelz became a hero when he made his first on-the-job rescue, saving an elderly, unconscious woman from her Lindenwood apartment, which became a blazing inferno on April 6.

Kung fu fighter thwarts sex assault: Good Samaritan Mike Novak thwarted a sexual assault in Sunnyside on April 8, when he ran to the aid of his female neighbor, who was being groped by a man in the bushes down the block from his house. The 54-year-old kung fu fighter chased the perp away, then pulled the victim out of the bush and stayed by her side until authorities arrived.

MAY

Historic carousel spins once more: The Forest Park Carousel held its grand reopening on May 26 after nearly four years of being shuttered. Hundreds of visitors, both children and adults, were able to take another spin on the historic, century-old merry-go-round.

Bayside cop arrested after heroin bust: Bayside cop Devon Daniels was arrested on May 15 for his role in allegedly aiding drug dealers. The 30 year old, who was assigned to the 111th Precinct, allegedly communicated with the leader of a Jamaica-based heroin distribution organization on numerous occasions to ask for money and to borrow vehicles, authorities said.

Gruesome murder in Bayside home: A Bayside woman was found dead in her basement with lacerations to her neck after the man she lived with allegedly killed her, set fire to their shared home and tried to hang himself in the couple’s bedroom closet. The gruesome scene occurred on May 23, claiming the life of Eun Hee Sin, 57, and sending a 56-year-old unidentified Asian man to the hospital, where he was said to be in stable condition.

JUNE

Queens kid places third in national spelling bee: Bayside Hills whiz kid Arvind Mahankali won third place at the televised Scripps National Spelling Bee for the second consecutive year. The 12 year old’s spellbinding run ended when he misspelled “schwannoma,” a German name-based word that means a type of cancer. Mahankali, a seventh grader from J.H.S. 74, took home $7,500.

First no-hitter for Mets: Johan Santana threw the first no-hitter in Mets history on June 1, when the New York team won 8-0 over the St. Louis Cardinals. Santana walked five and struck out eight.

Willets Point development details announced: Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced specifics of the Willets Point project, which includes retail space, a hotel and quicker access to the Van Wyck Expressway. More than 12,000 construction jobs and 7,000 permanent jobs would come from the proposed Willets Point renovation, he said, which is expected to bring $4.2 billion in economic activity over the next 30 years. A new component, Willets West, was also designated from a portion of the Citi Field parking lot to become one-million square feet of space for retail, entertainment and dining.

JULY

Con Ed lockout: As temperatures across the city spiked, Con Edison locked out more than 8,000 workers over heated  contract talks — leaving 5,000 managers responsible for maintaining electric, gas and steam service  for the company’s 3.2 million customers. The power giant blamed the stalemate on leaders of the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) Local 1-2 — the union representing roughly 8,000 Con Edison employees — who refused to accept its offer to extend their members’ contract for two  weeks. After a major push to end negotiations from Governor Andrew Cuomo, locked-out Con Ed  workers returned to their posts following a tentative agreement between the utility provider and representatives from the UWUA Local 1-2, ending the month-long stalemate.

Former pol arrested: Former Queens Assemblymember Jimmy Meng, the father of newly appointed Congressmember Grace Meng, was arrested on a federal wire fraud charge for allegedly attempting to scam $80,000 in cash from a state court defendant. Meng allegedly promised the defendant — who sought the former elected official’s help after being charged with state tax crimes — that his sentence would be reduced to one year if he paid prosecutors $20,000 each in bribes, according to the U.S. attorney’s office. Federal prosecutors said Meng offered to act as the middle man, instructing the individual to conceal and deliver the $80,000 payout in a fruit basket. The government investigation, however, uncovered no evidence the past politician even contacted prosecutors, and officials said Meng planned to keep the bribe money for himself.

Soda ban: Tensions fizzed over when locals expressed their distaste for the city’s proposed ban on large, sugary beverages at a public hearing on July 24.  “Will the government be telling me when to go to bed next?” asked Councilmember Dan Halloran. “Or how big my steak should be? How many potato chips I can eat? After all, it’s all in the name of my health. And clearly the government knows what’s best for me.” The soda ban will halt the sale of sugary bottled and fountain drinks, such as teas, sodas and sports drinks, of more than 16 ounces in every store and restaurant with letter grades, movie theaters, sports venues, delis and food trucks and carts. Diet sodas, calorie-free drinks, and drinks with at least 50 percent milk are exempted from the regulation.

Summer crime wave:  As temperatures soared, so did crime rates. And Queens did not remain bulletproof. Between July 4 and July 7, four deaths occurred throughout the borough, one man critically wounded and an MTA cop suffered a sight-threatening injury. On early Saturday, July 7, three men were fatally shot, and a fourth wounded, in Jamaica. Police said there were two shooters — one of whom fired 63 rounds from an AK-47. This was one of several shootings or stabbings to take place over what was considered the Fourth of July weekend. Councilmember Peter Vallone, who chairs the Public Safety Committee, said this spike in citywide crime was due to a decrease in the amount of on-duty cops and a spike in criminals — mainly due to budget cuts. These factors — along with soaring temperatures — were causing a higherthan-normal spike in crimes, Vallone said.

AUGUST

Sikh temple shooting: The August 5 shooting at an Oak Creek, Wisconsin gurdwara that killed six and wounded four struck close to home for the tens of thousands of Sikhs in Queens. Of the at least 300,000 Sikhs in the United States, between 30,000 to 40,000 live in New York City, with the bulk residing in Queens. Elected officials and religious leaders gathered at the Sikh Cultural Society — where thousands of Sikhs congregate weekly — the day after the shooting rampage inside the Wisconsin Sikh Temple to offer condolences to the community and show support. Shooter Wade Michael Page, an army veteran and alleged white supremacist, was killed at the scene. Post-9/11, the country experienced a large spike in hate crimes against Sikhs, said Amardeep Singh, director of programs at the Sikh Coalition. While incidents have slowed in recent years, Singh said discrimination in schools and the work place still persists.

Fire at home under construction: More than 100 firefighters from 33 units responded to the three-alarm blaze on Tuesday, August 14, at a Douglaston home, which was under renovations. The 39-12 Douglaston Parkway dwelling received 44 complaints since March 2008 from callers saying the ongoing construction work being done at the site exceeded the scope of the approved permit, according to the city’s Department of Buildings (DOB). No one was in the house at the time, and no one was severely injured, an official said. While all complaints made against the home were listed as closed, homeowner David Wei Huang was pinned for two violations from the DOB and 17 from the Environmental Control Board (ECB). Of those violations, nine were still outstanding, according to the DOB, and were related to the ongoing construction. Huang was issued a $2,500 fi ne when construction at the site was found not to be in compliance with approved plans and another $1,200 for failing to safeguard the public and his property. There were other violations for working with an expired permit, the DOB said.

Huntley surrenders: State Senator Shirley Huntley pleaded not guilty to charges of falsifying business records and tampering with evidence in the first degree, which are felonies, and conspiracy in the fifth degree, a misdemeanor, after officials said she covered up the funneling of nearly $30,000 in state funds to a non-profit she helped establish. Huntley turned herself in to the State Attorney General’s regional office on Monday, August 27, and was arraigned later that day. Voters gave Huntley the boot in September, when she decisively lost the Democratic primary to challenger James Sanders Jr., who was elected to the 10th District seat in November.

 SEPTEMBER

Rare tornado strikes Breezy Point: A tornado struck Breezy Point during a late summer down pour on Saturday, September 8. The twister damaged parts of the Breezy Point Surf Club, but many were thankful the club had been mostly closed up by that point. “We’re lucky the storm hit this weekend and not last weekend,” Councilmember Eric Ulrich said, who surveyed the damage in the area shortly after the storm. “Because last weekend the Surf Club was filled with people.”

“Look!” campaign promotes safety: A Department of Transportation (DOT) campaign to promote safety when texters crossed the street was launched in September. The program includes a sign that reads “LOOK!” in crosswalks throughout the city, to remind pedestrians to proceed with caution. “New Yorkers are driven to distraction with their smart phones, and the simple act of looking can prevent thousands of crashes and injuries every year,” said DOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. “LOOK! is a message to all New Yorkers that safety is in the eye of the beholder and everyone needs to keep an eye out for each other on our streets.”

Ulrich wins primary: Councilmember Eric Ulrich defeated Forest Hills lawyer Juan Reyes in a Senate District 15 Republican Primary on September 13. In the weeks leading up to the election, the Reyes campaign sent out a string of mailers attacking Ulrich’s reputation in the City Council and made anti-gay statements. Ulrich would go on to unsuccessfully challenge incumbent State Senator Joseph Addabbo in the general election. The race became one of the most contested in Queens.

Serial arsonist is nabbed: A suspect wanted for setting 13 fi res in Flushing and Murray Hill during a three-week period was arraigned on September 15. Thien K. Dinh, 43, was charged with two counts of second-degree arson, four counts of third-degree arson, 13 counts of fi rst-degree reckless endangerment and thirddegree burglary. Dinh admitted to the crimes, which included a fire at 143-01 45th Avenue near Bowne Street on August 20 that gutted adjacent businesses and totaled the four-story multiple family dwelling.

OCTOBER

Four Richmond Hill High grads die in crash: Four teenagers from South Ozone Park and Richmond Hill were killed in the morning hours of October 8, when the car they were riding in careened off the Southern State Parkway and threw them from the vehicle. The driver, Joseph Beer, 17, survived the crash and only had a learner’s permit, authorities said. The teen was later indicted by the Nassau County District Attorney on a slew of charges that included allegations he was high at the time of the crash.

Cop, driver killed in deadly rampage: An ex-con fatally shot Nassau County police officer Arthur Lopez near the Cross Island Parkway before fleeing on Tuesday, October 23. Darrell Fuller, 33, then took off and carjacked Raymond Facey, who was shot and killed. The incident resulted in a manhunt throughout southeast Queens searching for the perp, who was later found with a bullet wound in his shoulder. He was then taken to Jamaica Hospital before being transferred to Nassau County to be charged.

Cannibal cop: NYPD officer Gilberto Valle was nabbed for plotting to kidnap and eat more at least 100 women. The six-year veteran, who lived in Forest Hills, was charged with accessing the federal National Crime Information Center database to gain information without authorization, and agreeing to kidnap a woman to sell her to an individual for no less than $5,000, according to court documents.

Sandy strikes seaside south: Superstorm Sandy shut down much of Queens beginning on Monday, October 29 and carrying into the next day. Damage was felt, at different levels, throughout the borough. Trees came down on to houses in the northeast, in one case killing a man; parts of Long Island City’s water front arose and flooded several buildings. Rockaway and Howard Beach were some of the hardest hit areas however. The channel in Howard Beach poured on to Cross Bay Boulevard and knocked out some businesses for weeks. In Rockaway, the ocean poured over and met with Jamaica Bay.

NOVEMBER

Breezy Point residents search for hope: During Superstorm Sandy, the majority of Breezy Point homes received extensive water damage, and 111 homes burned to the ground after an electrical fire sparked. Residents, left at a loss, tried to receive as much relief as possible from organizations such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Red Cross, and many more. Kieren Burke was one of many who lost his home in the fire, and he spent some time searching for anything left behind — namely his wife’s wedding ring. Burke spent the storm in his parents’ house nearby, and ran outside once he saw the blazes engulf the streets, but he was only able to save a few things before his home was gone.

Obama visits New York after Sandy: Alongside New York’s most prominent officials, President Obama surveyed damage in the areas hardest hit by Superstorm Sandy. The President arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Thursday, November 15, and was greeted by Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan. He then surveyed the damage to the Rockaway peninsula by air, and went through Staten Island on foot.

The Kings of Queens: Over 400 guests gathered at Terrace on the Park in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park to mingle at one of the largest networking events in the borough and honor this year’s “Kings of Queens.” The fifth annual Queens Courier event, held on Thursday, November 15 featured special honoree, Steven Lacy, Fox 5 news anchor, and honored dozens of top businessmen throughout Queens.

DECEMBER

Boardwalk future: Sandy ripped mercilessly through the Rockaways, destroying an iconic haven enjoyed by all: the boardwalk. The community came together and urged that their boardwalk be rebuilt better than ever before, so no storm can ever do this again. Mayor Michael Bloomberg responded with a new plan, hopefully to be in place by next summer. Wooden planks will be a thing of the past, and a concrete boardwalk will be put into place. Locals, although pleased, still asked for sea walls to further protect their home.

Bayside murders: A Bayside man was named in an indictment charging him with two separate counts of second-degree murder. Gregory Cucchiara, 36, was charged for beating his mother over the head before submerging her in water, and another 15 months later when he smothered his father to death. He was being held at Rikers Island, and faces 50 years to life in prison if convicted.

Sunnyside vigil: A mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut hit home for Sunnyside residents. Little Benjamin Wheeler, 6, originally from Sunnyside, was shot and killed during the unspeakable tragedy. Dawn Hochsprung, the principal of Sandy Hook, selfl essly gave her life to the shooter while trying to save as many students as she could. Her life was also remembered at the vigil by her stepsister, who resides in Sunnyside. The massacre was the second deadliest shooting in our nation’s history, killing 26 people, 20 of who were children.