Tag Archives: the Bronx

Congressmember Crowley kicks of re-election campaign


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Dominick Totino Photography

Congressmember Joseph Crowley has launched his re-election campaign.

Crowley, who was first elected to Congress in 1998, was voted in last year to represent sections of Queens and the Bronx in the 14th Congressional District.

He officially kicked off his campaign for re-election on Sunday, March 9, in Sunnyside, though no opponents have declared their candidacies as of yet.

“It has been my privilege to represent the people of one of the most diverse districts in the country, and I am excited to announce I’ll be seeking re-election to continue to focus on the issues that matter most,” Crowley said.

The announcement came as the Woodside native gathered with other elected officials and supporters during his fifth annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration at Sidetracks Restaurant.

“Too many families are still struggling to get by and we need to break the gridlock in Congress to get our country moving forward again,” he said. “Using my position in the elected leadership of the House Democratic Caucus, I am fully committed to making a real difference in people’s lives. That means putting New Yorkers back to work, raising the minimum wage, protecting social services that are vital to our most vulnerable communities, and fighting hard to make immigration reform a reality.”

Recently, Crowley introduced the On-The-Job Training Act that would guarantee American workers are able to gain new skills to both compete and succeed in the job market.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Local movie maker brings piece of Jackson Heights to Queens World Film Festival


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Images Courtesy Walk Up Productions

One Jackson Heights filmmaker is keeping a promise and taking it to the big screen.

Producer and Jackson Heights resident Michael Lieber met screenwriter Joseph P. Vasquez in California during the mid-1990s and started to work on a screenplay called “The House That Jack Built,” written by Vasquez.

But before the project was complete, Vasquez, 32, died. Lieber vowed that he would finish the film.

Two years ago, Lieber kept his promise and decided to begin making the film with director Henry Barrial and additional producers Sam Kitt and Hitesh R. Patel.

“It just shows that the most important thing was starting with a good script,” Lieber said. “Unfortunately, the writer died many years ago and he was not able to see the fruition of this film. This is why it took so many years to make, because I wasn’t just going to get it filmed like that.”

Vasquez’s film, which is almost 90 minutes long, follows the life of a young Hispanic man named Jack Maldonado who tries to build a relationship with his family by buying an apartment building and moving them all there. The story then becomes a combination of escalating conflicts with family members and also “turf battles” as Jack deals with competing marijuana dealers.

“When I look back, I’m kind of amazed we were able to achieve this,” he said, referring to the film’s budget, which was less than $150,000.

One third of the movie was filmed in Jackson Heights and the rest was finished in the Bronx.

“The House That Jack Built” has been picked as one of the 127 films showing at the Queens World Film Festival, which began Tuesday. It has also been nominated for Best Narrative Feature in the festival.

“This festival is very different; this is a film lovers’ festival,” Lieber said. “It’s a warm festival. It’s very New York and yet it has an international scope.”

“The House That Jack Built” will be showing at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 7, at P.S. 69, located at 77-02 37th Ave. in Jackson Heights.

“If you want the feel of New York City, Queens is the borough these days,” he said.

To purchase tickets, visit here. For more info on the film, visit here .

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Corona immunization clinic set to close once again


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File Photo

It’s déjà-vu for two major immunization walk-in clinics as the city renews its plans to close the sites by the end of the month, according to union leaders.

In August, the City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) announced it would close the Corona Health Center, located at 34-33 Junction Blvd., and the Tremont Health Center in the Bronx. After community protest, the city temporarily stopped the plan and rescheduled the closing for the end of 2013.

Yet, after keeping the clinics open into the New Year with funds provided by the City Council, closures are expected for the end of February.

“The function of immunization is prevention,” said Fitz Reid, president of Local 768, a union representing health care workers. “It’s not just job protections, it’s to protect the children, protect the public.”

The closures are expected to severely limit access to free and low-cost immunizations for low-income and poor families, protecting them from diseases such as the flu, meningitis, Hepatitis B, measles, mumps, rubella and others.

The DOHMH also plans on cutting the hours of its STD clinics, according to union leaders.

Public employee union District Council 37 tried to hold a meeting with the Health Department, but said it was not productive as no immunization representative attended. The group now wants to schedule a new meeting with the hope of getting their concerns heard by the department’s newly appointed commissioner, Dr. Mary Bassett.

“We’re hoping that when she takes the reigns, we’ll be able to meet with her and have a productive meeting where we emphasize the importance of the clinics in the communities,” said Judith Arroyo, president of Local 436, United Federation of Nurses and Epidemiologists. “We’re just waiting for a response.”

According to Arroyo, the immunization clinics are necessary because they serve as the first step for immigrant families to learn about health care and begin immunization records for their children.

One of the major issues at hand is that every closure has been kept from the community, said leaders. Residents would then have to travel to the Fort Greene Health Center, located at 295 Flatbush Ave. in Brooklyn, the city’s only walk-in immunization clinic.

“I continue to oppose the closure of the Corona immunization clinic,” Councilmember Daniel Dromm said. “The Department of Health unfortunately has decided to keep their plans for the center in the dark. Residents need to have access to these services, including school children who are required to have certain shots before attending class.”

The DOHMH did not respond to requests for comment as of press time.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Fans young and old come to gingerbread village giveaway at NYSCI


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

It was a bittersweet feeling for Chef Jon Lovitch as he removed the first candy covered house out of “GingerBread Lane.”

Lovitch, a Bronx resident, is the creator behind the 1.5 ton, 300-square-foot village known as “GingerBread Lane,” named the largest gingerbread village in the world by the 2014 Guinness World Records.

The village, consisting of 160 houses made completely of edible gingerbread, royal icing and candy, was on display at the New York Hall of Science in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park from November up until this past weekend.

Instead of throwing out the estimated 2, 350 pounds of icing, 400 pounds of candy, and 500 pounds of gingerbread dough, Lovitch decided the best thing to do would be to give away pieces of the village to fans of all ages.

“People are really attached to GingerBread Lane,” said Lovitch. “They can take a piece of it with them. It just seems like the best way to do this.”

Fans came to the Hall of Science on Sunday to wait in line for the chance to take home a piece of history. Along with the houses, the gingerbread village was made up of 65 candy trees, four gingerbread cable cars, five gingerbread train cars, an underground candy subway station, a skating rink, a carousel, trains and more.

CHECK OUT OUR PHOTO GALLERY FOR MORE FROM THE GIVEAWAY 

Before starting the giveaway, Lovitch made sure to let everyone know that although the houses are made out of edible materials, he does not recommend anyone consume the pieces because the different candy is months old, has been through a lot of touching and some have even fallen to the ground.

Cole, 7, was the first lucky fan to get his pick of the village and chose a gingerbread house with a roof covered in star shaped candy.

“This gingerbread village is so spectacular and my kids have fallen in love with it,” said Cole’s mother, Kam Wong, from Woodside, who also brought 7-year-old daughter Isabella to the event. “I love the holiday times and just to have a reminder of it during the year is fantastic.”

Isabella was not shy about choosing the horse-filled carousel.

Making sure each fan could enjoy having the gingerbread houses and other edible pieces for a long time, Lovitch also gave each participant instructions on proper preservation.

“If you do take that time to preserve it, it’ll last a long time,” said Lovitch.

Although last year’s “GingerBread Lane” has already been taken apart, Lovitch plans on starting to work on this year’s new village by the end of the month and hopes to go even bigger.

The 2014-2015 GingerBread Lane will be on display at the NY Hall of Science in the fall.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

DOT, NYPD announce nighttime closure of Queensboro Bridge outer roadway lane to reduce speeding


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ File Photo

A few weeks following the fatal accident of an off-duty police officer off the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge, the Department of Transportation (DOT) and NYPD have implemented a new change looking to increase safety for drivers and pedestrians.

The DOT and NYPD announced on Tuesday the single lane of the Queens-bound outer roadway of the Queensboro Bridge will be closed each day to vehicular traffic from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., starting Monday, Dec. 30.

The nighttime closure hopes to reduce the possibility for speeding and any other dangerous driving at night when the lane is not being used. All traffic capacity on Queens-bound inner and upper roadway lanes will not be affected.

“This upgrade to the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge is just the latest step we’ve taken to keep the more than 180,000 daily drivers crossing safely on one of the city’s most iconic bridges,” said DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.

The daily closure and reopening of the outer roadway lane will be organized by NYPD traffic officers who are already stationed at the bridge to manage the weekday reversal of the two upper roadway Queens-bound lanes.

The closure comes after the DOT conducted a review of current safety measures, traffic volumes and travel speed following the death of 10-year NYPD veteran Elisa Toro, 36,  on December 10.

Toro was heading off the bridge’s exit ramp around 1:50 a.m. when she struck a guardrail, then a cement barrier, said police. The car then flipped onto its passenger side, hitting a vacant storefront on Queens Plaza South at Crescent Street  in Long Island City. Toro, a Bronx resident, was pronounced dead at the scene. No one else was injured in the accident, said police.

“I applaud the DOT for finally giving this dangerous stretch of road the attention it deserves,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris who asked the DOT to improve traffic safety in the area and redesign the bridge’s exit ramp, after a series of accidents in 2011. “Hopefully, the nighttime closure of the Queens-bound outer roadway will provide the time for a proper evaluation of the street design coming off the Queensboro Bridge exit ramp so we can eventually solve this problem once and for all.”

According to the DOT, the outer-roadway closure joins other traffic measures installed by the Queens Plaza South exit ramp since 2011. The traffic measures include three 20 mph messages, “shark teeth” markings on the road, 14 yellow and 12 white 36”-by-8” aluminum-backed reflectors, four sets of rumble strips warning drivers they are approaching a reduced speed zone, and much more. Throughout the day, the agency plans to continue monitoring traffic volumes, safety measures and driving conditions on the bridge. 

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

This Morning’s Headlines


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Mets Owners Sell Team Shares Following $162M Settlement With Madoff Victims’ Trustee

Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz last week sold 12 minority stakes in the troubled franchise worth $240 million, using the proceeds to pay off Major League Baseball and reduce the team’s crippling debt, The Post has learned. With the moves, the team now has breathing room with its lenders and — combined with yesterday’s Picard settlement — appears to have saved the franchise. Read More: NY1

 

Mets owners could actually make money in Madoff settlement

It’s the biggest win for the Mets since 1986 — but a huge letdown for the fans. The team’s stingy owners will remain at the helm after striking a sweetheart settlement with the lawyer tasked with recouping billions from Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme — and the deal actually casts them as victims of the fraud. The deal heads off a risky jury trial, where a loss could have cost owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz up to $383 million and control of the franchise. Read More: New York Post

 

Rangers edge Devils, clinch playoff spot in East

Brandon Dubinsky scored shortly after a fight-filled opening faceoff, and the Rangers became the first Eastern Conference team to earn a playoff spot by beating the New Jersey Devils 4-2 on Monday night. Three fights broke out at the outset and that seemed to jump-start the Rangers, who had lost two straight and five of seven as their once commanding lead in the East dwindled to almost nothing. Read More: New York Post

 

Trayvon Martin shooting: Feds to investigate killing of unarmed black teen by Florida neighborhood watch captain

The growing national attention – and outcry – over the case of an unarmed black teen in Florida who was fatally shot by a neighborhood watch captain has culminated with the federal government’s announcement that it will launch an investigation. The announcement late Monday by the Justice Department followed a day of protests calling for the arrest of George Zimmerman, 28, who claims he shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin last month in self-defense during a confrontation in a gated community. Read More: Daily News

 

Cops nab burglary suspect — but hunt for ‘Vaseline Bandit’ continues

Police who were already hunting for a burglar who has brazenly pulled off 14 apartment break-ins in Upper Manhattan — using Vaseline to block door peepholes — captured another apartment thief re-handed, casually watching TV, in the middle of a heist tonight. But law enforcement sources said the 20-something perp is not the so-called Vaseline Bandit, who is in his 50s. Read More: New York Post

 

Government may make it easier for airlines to allow passengers to use personal electronic devices during takeoffs and landings

The government is taking a tentative step toward making it easier for airlines to allow passengers to use personal electronic devices such as tablets, e-readers and music players during takeoffs and landings. The Federal Aviation Administration said Monday it is “exploring ways to bring together all of the key stakeholders involved” – including airlines, aircraft manufacturers, consumer electronics makers, and flight attendant unions – to discuss whether there are practical ways to test devices to see if they are safe for passengers to use during critical phases of flight. Read More: Daily News

 

Peyton Manning finalizing contract with Broncos

All that’s needed is Peyton Manning’s autograph. After being pursued by teams around the NFL, the QB with four MVP awards is headed to the land of John Elway and Tim Tebow, agreeing to a contract with Denver that could make the Broncos an instant Super Bowl contender. It could also send one of the NFL’s most intriguing young players packing. So much for Tebowmania. Manning called Elway on Monday morning and told the Broncos executive that he had chosen Denver over the Tennessee Titans and San Francisco 49ers in the wildest free-agent chase of the offseason. Read More: Yahoo Sports

 

3 wounded in Harlem shooting

A gunman shot three men across from a Harlem playground this afternoon, police said. The unknown assailant blasted his victims in front of a deli across from the St. Nicholas Playground on West 129th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue about 2:30 p.m., cops said. A 30-year-old man was wounded in the left hand and leg, a 25-year-old was shot in the left leg, and a 23-year-old was wounded in the butt, authorities said. Read More: New York Post

 

NYPD Ups Security In Wake Of Jewish School Shooting In France

The NYPD yesterday deployed hundreds of cops to synagogues and Jewish neighborhoods citywide after a gunman fatally shot three kids and a rabbi at a Jewish school in France. “Obviously, we’re concerned about what happened in Toulouse,” Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said of the shooting. Read More: NY1

 

Jail guard shot

An off-duty Rikers correction officer was shot by her boyfriend last night outside a Queens diner, police sources said. The woman was hit in the stomach near the USA Diner on Merrick Boulevard in Laurelton at 10:50 p.m., cops said. The shooter fled. It wasn’t immediately clear what sparked the fight. Read More: New York Post

 

‘Gangster’ sought in groom slay

They picked the wrong guy to push around. The Staten Island restaurant worker reportedly thrown to the ground by groom-to-be Anthony Lacertosa and his boozing buddies was purported Albanian gangster Redinel Dervishaj, who then allegedly killed Lacertosa with a butcher knife. Investigators believe Dervishaj, 35, has since fled the city, a law-enforcement source said. Read More: New York Post

 

‘Mad Men’ star Jon Hamm sticks to his guns in calling Kim Kardashian an ‘idiot’

Square-jawed “Mad Men” actor Jon Hamm is sick of your stupid shtick. Channeling his straight-shooting character Don Draper,  Hamm put Kim Kardashian in her place Monday, dissing the curvaceous celebutard yet again. NBC “Today” show host Matt Lauer asked the AMC retro-series actor to clarify the earlier comments he made to Elle UK about Kardashian being a famous-for-being-famous “idiot,” which the reality starlet called “careless.” Read More: Daily News

FreshDirect leaving Long Island City for the Bronx


| smosco@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Steve Mosco

After flirting with a move to New Jersey, a Queens produce supplier has accepted a fresh offer – and will most likely relocate to the Bronx.

FreshDirect, an online fresh food grocer, will uproot from its operations in Long Island City and leave the borough for larger facilities, according to a joint statement from Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. on February 7.

The company said it will retain nearly 2,000 existing jobs and create almost 1,000 new jobs when it moves to the location at Harlem River Yards. However, not everyone is thrilled about the move.

Bettina Damiani, project director of Good Jobs New York, a watchdog of the city’s economic development subsidy program, feels the city did not do its diligence in making the negotiations as transparent as possible. She also believes that FreshDirect is turning its back on Queens and is picking cash from taxpayers’ money tree – a tactic she believes it used when the company threatened to move to New Jersey.

“They [the city’s Industrial Development Agency] conducted a cost benefit analysis, but it doesn’t acknowledge that the city already gave FreshDirect subsidies for the spot in L.I.C.,” she said. “Taxpayers already gave. And instead of thanking the taxpayers, they were put over a barrel and were told to give more or [the company] would move to New Jersey. If they wanted to do this solely on their own dime, it wouldn’t be our fight. But they are using taxpayer money.”

FreshDirect contends that the company needs to move to a larger location in order to better serve its growing customer base – and the Bronx offered the best option.

“With significant growth in our customer base, we need to expand our operations,” said FreshDirect chief executive officer Jason Ackerman. “A new state-of-the-art facility at the Harlem River Yard in the Bronx would allow us to operate more efficiently, maintain our relationships with NYS vendors, local farmers and purveyors and continue our long track record of growth and job creation in New York.”

FreshDirect, founded in 1999, purchases produce, meat and dairy from over 60 New York State-based farms and serves a customer base of over 100,000 people with 97 percent of their employees coming from New York State.

To convince the company to stay in the city, a package of state and city incentives valued at over $100 million is being provided to augment the company’s private investment of $112.6 million.

State Senator Michael Gianaris, who represents a portion of western Queens, said that he was disappointed to hear the company is leaving L.I.C., but he’s glad that they decided to stay in the city. “It’s a testament to their success that they’ve outgrown the space in L.I.C.,” he said. “We certainly hope that no one will lose their jobs over this, and we do plan to fill the space vacated by FreshDirect with another job creator.”

Before the move is confirmed, a public hearing will be held at the New York City Industrial Development Agency on Thursday, February 9 at 10 a.m.