Mar 21 2014

Navy Veteran Aims To Replace Malcolm Smith


She has a nice outsider’s vibe.

Let the journey begin.

Navy combat veteran and cyber security expert, Bernadette Semple is ready to lead once again with her first foray into politics: battling Malcolm Smith as well as two attorneys in a heated primary for control of SD 14 in south Queens. Oh, did we mention Leroy Comrie is also a possibility?

Read more about her below.

[From NYDN] A 48-year-old Navy veteran who saw combat in the Horn of Africa is wading into the hostile waters of southeastern Queens politics.

Cyber security expert Bernadette Semple has added her name to the growing field of candidates planning to take on embattled state Sen. Malcolm Smith in the Democratic primary.

“This district needs a fresh start,” said Semple, who grew up in the Astoria Houses before her family moved to Laurelton.

“You have some people who are greedy and selfish,” Semple said, without naming names. “They only want to help their friends and certain interest groups.”

Semple, one of 10 children, said her biggest strength is that she is “not a politician.”

It’s been almost a year since Smith was arrested by federal authorities for his role in a scheme to bribe GOP officials to back him in a potential Mayoral bid. He pleaded not guilty.

Earlier this year, Smith announced he would be seeking re-election.

For the full article:



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Mar 21 2014

Queens Leaders Blast MTA For Poor Communication


in a letter sent to the MTA, Senator Mike Gianaris and several elects voiced the frustration of thousands of commuters.

Are surprise 7 train closures making your commute a nightmare? Have no fear, State Senator Mike Gianaris is keeping up the pressure.

In a letter to the MTA, several Queens elected officials united to voice their opposition to the incessant 7 train closures and demanded that the MTA communicate more effectively with the public to help minimize headaches for thousands of commuters.

Senator Gianaris was the first to put out the press release.

Press Release:


For Immediate Release

Contact: Jacob Tugendrajch

Senator Gianaris, Electeds Pen 7 Train Shutdown Letter to MTA

(Long Island City, NY) Following miscommunications between the MTA and Long Island City residents and business owners regarding the agency’s plans to help the neighborhood cope with incessant 7 train closures, Senator Michael Gianaris, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan and Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer  demanded the MTA communicate openly with community representatives moving forward.

“With this letter we intend to keep the MTA focused on keeping its lines of communication with Long Island City open,” said Senator Gianaris. “We are all struggling with the effects of 7 train closures and now is not the time for the MTA to ignore the concerns of the community. The MTA needs to respond to questions voiced by LIC residents and I will continue to hold its feet to the fire until more progress is made on this issue.”

“The residents and business owners  of Long Island City are experiencing a great deal of inconvenience as a result of the multiple weekend closures of the 7 line and this planned advertising campaign is supposed to help compensate for that inconvenience,” Borough President Katz said. “We have to make sure the MTA does what it takes to make sure this campaign is an effective one. I hope the MTA heeds the community’s concerns and provides the commitments and assurances the community is seeking.”

“The reduction in 7 line service is very unfair and wrong,” said Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan.  “I would urge the MTA and the residents of Long Island City to continue to work out an agreement both on the marketing campaign that was initially promised to the community and additional programs such as a shuttle from the Vernon-Jackson stop. I support the Long Island City Artists, Merchants, Queens Community Board 2, Long Island City Partnership and other community leaders and residents who are advocating for the neighborhood and I am very disappointed that the MTA has not been able to provide a better response.”

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Mar 19 2014

Queens Takes Center Stage at Second Annual Carnegie Hall with Young International Artists Music Competition

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[Press Release] The International Music and Arts Society (IMAS) held its Second Annual Young Artists Music Competition where hundreds of talented musicians between the ages of 7-18 years old from across three states (NJ, NY, and CA) came out to participate in the competition. Queen’s natives joined in the fantastic turnout and provided incredible talent, the IMAS esteemed judging panel had a challenging time selecting the winners, but was able to select the most gifted students to showcase in the winners’ concerts. 

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Award recipient Judy Zhou

Chinese teacher Lin Hong of Bayside NY was honored with the Distinguished Teacher award and his student Judy Zhou from Bayside received a Grand Prize award. Additional Winners from renowned Piano teachers Lin’s private studio were First Prize: William Wong (Piano) Second Prize: Miriam Li (Violin) Third Prize: Sherwin Pan (Piano) additionally Joy Lu, Sandra Yu, Serena Yang, Muchen Yu, Henry Ho, Andy Shu, Brandon Ou, Michael Buana, Robert Wong, Xiaowei Fu and Vivian Zhong.

The International Music & Arts Society (IMAS) is an international non-profit that promotes the advancement of musical and cultural relationships between teachers and students from all over the world. Founded in 2010 by Shirley Fan and Amy Kao, IMAS hosts various activities such as workshops, master classes, and performance opportunities at prestigious concert venues, community centers, and music festivals such as the Shanghai’s International Youth Arts Festival. The art troupe is comprised of different musical and artistic talents to ensure a spectacular show, ranging from the piano soloists, to group ensemble and string instrument performances.

The International Music & Arts Society strives to teach our students not only how to become competent musicians, but also experience the multitude of musical culture around the globe. IMAS believes that this experience will allow students to appreciate the aspects of music in different cultures and how they can be so different, and yet have so many similarities.

IMAS is honored to have the support of Congresswoman Grace Meng and Peter Koo, New York City Council Member,

Both effective and strong community leaders.



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Mar 19 2014

Race to replace Avella gets more interesting

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John Liu’s name recognition is strong, if not stronger than Tony Avella in District 11.

The future is unwritten, or is it?

Since his recent betrayal of the Democratic Party left him alone in the woods, everyone is wondering who will rise to the occasion and primary “maverick” state Sen. Tony Avella?

With all the hypotheses circulating around town we’ve all managed to miss one little thing: With every possible candidate in north Queens comfortable and safe in their seats, there’s only one viable candidate that has enough political clout and name recognition to battle the 800 pound gorilla that is Tony Avella.

That candidate is none other than John Liu, the only candidate with nothing to lose.

With Liu’s recent endorsement of Grace Meng, Congress was out of the question and Peter Koo easily won reelection, so a Council run won’t happen, at least not for another four years. And since no incumbent in their right mind wants to risk losing their seat to take on Tony, what’s left? Where will Liu run? Everyone knows Liu is a natural leader destined to run again, so how about where he lives in SD 11?

Could it happen? While whites are a majority in the district, Liu’s name recognition could overcome the tribal nature of politics in Queens; where people tend to vote according to race. But this is not a general election, and Joe voter on the street (who love Tony unabashedly) won’t be showing up for a primary, county supporters will. If it comes to pass, the low turnout primary will be a bare knuckle, door-to-door marathon not an endorsement and fundraising sprint. Tony will have to get enough boots on the ground and run the ultimate pull operation to have a fighting chance against a strong County-backed candidate like John Liu.

Reality will soon set in when Avella’s traditional support network will not be there for him. This matchup could split labor forces as well, further diminishing Tony’s chances. In this scenario, Liu could win. And While the hunt to replace Avella may end with John Liu  (the only candidate that could beat him) it’s also Liu’s best option right now.


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Mar 18 2014

NYPOST Follow-up On Notorious Developer

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Kriss pictured here on vacation. Source: NYP

And if you don’t know, now you know.

Following our post about infamous real estate developer Jody Kriss, The Post ran a full story about the beatings, mob ties, threats of whacking people, fake mob personas, plus a lot more in grave detail surrounding this Scorsese-like scandal.

The meat and potatoes? We need to ensure elects and community boards know everything about whom they allow to “develop” in their community before it’s too late.

Mob rat says Ivy League business partner tried to whack him

[From The NYPOST] A Mafia-associate-turned-informant is deathly afraid of an Ivy League-educated business partner who claims the mob rat cheated him on a land deal.

Now, canary Salvatore Lauria has filed a $5 million Manhattan suit claiming his ex-business partner became a wiseguy wannabe in his quest to nail him over the dough.

Seemingly “squeaky-clean’’ Wharton Law School graduate Jody Kriss “used mob tactics’’ — nearly getting him killed — to try to get his half of the $2.5 million payday, Lauria claims in his bombshell civil lawsuit, which was obtained by The Post.

For example, a vengeful Kriss disclosed sealed government information to a famous mob lawyer who represented the very people Lauria informed against, prompting a mob beatdown of Lauria, the court papers say.

In July 2012 a Mafioso “tracked down Lauria in a restaurant in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn . . . and beat Lauria in broad daylight, menacingly telling Lauria, “You’re dead. I’m going to kill you. You’re a rat. I did two years because of you,” the suit says.

Kriss, 36, of the Upper West Side, who worked with Lauria at the real-estate conglomerate the Bayrock Group, took on a mob persona, according to the papers.

Russian pals started calling him “Vor-ton,” a play on his alma mater Wharton,’’ the suit says. In Russia, mobsters are referred to as vor-in-laws, or thief-in-laws.

Kriss was so enamored of the criminal underworld that he also “would routinely ask to see Lauria’s court-mandated ankle monitor and referred to it as ‘federal jewelry,’ ” according to the papers.

For the full story:


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Mar 18 2014

Email From John Liu: Reform The CFB


It’s not about politics, it’s about equality under the law.

The bottom line?

An email from LiuNewYork explains the real meaning behind Liu’s federal lawsuit against the CFB for denying matching funds during his bid for Mayor.

“Bottom line: it’s about free speech and equal treatment, and the inalienable rights thereof.”

While the lawsuit is yet to be heard, the principle behind the suit will at the very least force us to examine the inner workings of the CFB and shed some light on where we need reform.

The email includes links to recent clips highlighting his position and can be viewed below:

Dear Friend,

John Liu has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Campaign Finance Board, for violations of the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, in their outrageous, wholesale denial of all matching funds for John’s campaign for mayor. Unbridled control leads to fundamentally disparate treatment across cases, and that’s just not right.

Bottom line: it’s about free speech and equal treatment, and the inalienable rights thereof. Take a look at some of the news reports…

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: “The ghost of John Liu – Playing politics by a non-partisan board” - 3/18/2014
EXCERPTS – John Liu was mugged by the Campaign Finance Board.

New York City’s system of public financing for political campaigns is often cited as a model that enhances democracy. Not so for John Liu, and now he is properly seeking redress in federal court.

Suddenly, only five weeks before last year’s Democratic mayoral primary, the Campaign Finance Board disqualified the then-city controller from receiving the taxpayer subsidies that were crucial to his shot at City Hall.

WALL STREET JOURNAL: “John Liu Files Federal Lawsuit Against Campaign Finance Board” - 3/12/2014
EXCERPT – According to the lawsuit, which Mr. Liu announced at a news conference on Wednesday, the board delivered his campaign a “death sentence” when it decided in August not to give him any matching funds. The lawsuit alleges the board based its decision on a “shoddy investigation” and that its treatment of Mr. Liu was “wholly arbitrary and without rational basis.”

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: “John Liu Sues Campaign Finance Board For Denying Him Funds” - 3/12/2014
EXCERPTS – The former City Controller charges in the suit, filed Wednesday in Manhattan Federal Court, that the board unconstitutionally took away his $3.8 million in campaign cash over possible improprieties in his fundraising operations.

“This agency is in dire need of reform. It is at best rife with whim and caprice, and at worst tainted politically,” Liu said, charging the city’s campaign system has been “adulterated by some out of control bureaucrats.”

“I’m not looking for a re-do of the election. The election’s long past, and I’m past that,” he said. “This isn’t about me or my election of my campaign. This is about a system that I believe in for the good of democracy here in New York City. But it’s broken and it needs to be fixed.”

NY1 Online: “Liu Discusses Lawsuit Against City Campaign Finance Board” - 3/14/2014
NY1 VIDEO: Former City Comptroller John Liu joined Inside City Hall to discuss his lawsuit against the city Campaign Finance Board for denying him matching funds during his bid for City Hall last year.


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Mar 18 2014

Celebrate Queens 2014

Do you love Queens?

The Queens Fellowship is hosting a night of networking and live entertainment featuring an exposé of local artists at Flushing Town Hall. All proceeds for this event will go to support the One Queens Grant for youth organizations in Queens.

* The Queens Fellowship is a partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, One Nation, and The New York Community Trust. It receives consultation from LaGuardia Community College, COPO and CAUSE-NY, the Intergroup Relations & Community Concerns division of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York.


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Mar 14 2014

The weekend review

Queens PoliticsThe real action heated up on Wednesday; still there’s plenty to review in case you missed anything.

Highest ranking story of the week with over a thousand hits? A little hint, it’s number 7 on our list…

Have a great weekend.



  • Avella defends the IDC as… Democrats.
  • Judge will not allow Tabone and Halloran to postpone court dates.
  • Mayor who? Staten Island speculates four years down the pipeline.
  • Photo of the day: Fiorello La Guardia in Queens.
  • John Liu never gives up.
  • D.A Brown picks new ADA’s, so don’t be on the receiving end.
  • Brooklyn watch out: shady developers target your BP.
  • Photo of the day: Mayor Lindsay pelted with snowballs.
  • Ben Max takes it to the next level.
  • Next steps: Queens leaders doing big things.

* It’s petition season! So don’t be surprised when campaigners come a-knockin’ to ask for your signature this weekend (the weather should be perfect for this). Remember you can only sign once, and sign your name only, oh and it only counts if you’re in the respective party and district. Good luck to all.

Also, checkout this week’s search terms; in other words which QP articles popped up when people searched the phrases below. Notice anything interesting?

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Mar 13 2014

Queens Leaders Ready Serve In New Roles


Peter Vallone Jr.

A good day for Queens.

Former City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. and labor leader Rebecca Lynch were selected to once again serve in the halls of government.

Vallone, who was term-limited this year in the Astoria based Council district, will serve in the Cuomo administration as a special assistant to the state’s corrections commissioner, and Rebecca Lynch of Glen Oaks will serve in Mayor de Blasio’s Community Affairs Unit.

Lynch, a former District Leader in northeast Queens, gave up the post this week as her role in the de Blasio administration becomes more clear in time, according to the Politicker.

Role reversal?


Rebecca Lynch

Both Lynch and Vallone have a long history of community service. Ironically, the former City Councilman will now work with Albany, and the former state party District Leader will now serve inside City Hall.

Congratulations to both and best of luck.


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Mar 13 2014

Ben Max debuts on Gotham Gazette with exclusive Anthony Weiner interview

ben max

Blogs open up endless possibilities.

Moving on up.

Ben Max, a pioneer of digital politics and founder of Decide NYC, was recently hired as Executive Editor at the Gotham Gazette. And his first story? None other than an exclusive interview with former Queens Pol, Anthony Weiner.

Find out what Anthony has been up to since his resignation and a little more in-depth detail about his policy positions including: Sandy Recovery, The Teachers Contract, Seniors, development, and more.

[From The Gotham GazetteA Gotham Gazette exclusive with the mercurial former congressman, two-time mayoral candidate, political commentator, and New York idea guy

 Part One of a two-part series: Policy

 Anthony Weiner is a political columnist and commentator, a consultant and a family man. He is not, strangely, holding or running for elected office.

Having spent the vast majority of the past 23 years either in or seeking an elected position, Weiner, a former New York City Council Member (1992-1998) and congressman (1999-2011), finds himself on the fringe of the political discourse after coming up short in his second bid to become the mayor of his hometown.

The much-detailed scandal that ended Weiner’s congressional career and derailed his 2013 mayoral bid seems to have contributed to a bull market for his thoughts on politics and policy. Weiner continues to be invited to cable news talk shows, has started writing a regular column in the Daily News, and after sitting down with me on Tuesday, dashed off to the NY1 studios to tape a “Wiseguys” segment for the “Inside City Hall” program.

His name continues to be an attention-grabber and his face, a head-turner – as I witnessed when he walked into the Manhattan coffee shop where we met. Dressed casually, Weiner bounded into the cafe, gave me an unhurried hello and firm handshake, and darted to grab a beverage before sitting down to chat. While he waited to order, several patrons recognized him; two women in line exchanged smirks and whispers.

Whatever you might think of Weiner, and opinions vary widely, there is no denying that he is interesting and engaging, and thus unlikely to drop out of the public eye any time soon. Not to mention that even if it is only by sheer will, the Brooklyn born Weiner is all but sure to remain part of the political conversation, despite his being a self-described “imperfect messenger.”

Check out the full article:


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Photo of the day: John Lindsay pelted with snowballs in Kew Gardens


In 1969, while touring the streets of Kew Gardens, Mayor John Lindsay was heckled and pelted with snowballs by irate citizens for his poor handling of a surprise winter storm which dumped 20 inches of snow in Queens. The storm was so bad mail service disappeared and Queens was cut off from the other boroughs. – AP


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Mar 13 2014

Brooklyn Watch Out: shady developer with mob ties targets Eric Adams


The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.

Jody Kriss wants to build in your neighborhood, except one thing: Jody Kriss might hire the Russian mob to do his grunt work.

Known as Vor-Ton (meaning “thief of tons in Russian”), Jody Kriss of East River Partners has a black-seeded history that becomes ever more clear with a simple google search; but now he may be onto bigger projects like wooing newly minted Brooklyn BP Eric Adams for a giant land deal with a lollipop and a smile. ..

It’s not the wheeling and dealing typical of the real estate industry that require attention, in this case, rather, it’s the developer’s shady past and known criminal associates which warrant a further investigation.

So who is the real Jody Kriss? Kriss, former CFO of The Bayrock Group, is a professional plaintiff who has spent the better part of three years on a frivolous and harassing extortion campaign, filing scores of meritless lawsuits – including lawsuits against Donald Trump. Kriss is a very litigious person, very litigious; so much so that he even sued a former federal prosecutor who had protecting cooperating witnesses whose testimony would likely have been damaging to Mr. Kriss.

But that’s not all. Kriss illegally exposed privileged and government-sealed information in an effort to extort funds through his numerous lawsuits – information that involved organized crime associates and could lead to physical harm of Kriss’ former partners at Bayrock Group some have speculated.

  • In a 2009 civil complaint, Jody Kriss, who served for five years as the finance director at Bayrock, alleged that the firm was a “racketeer-influenced and corrupt organization” that… “operated through a pattern of criminal activity.” In addition to charging them with embezzlement and various forms of fraud, Kriss alleged they had engaged in “extortion by means of threats of torture and death.” The complaint also claims that Bayrock steered a $1.5 million placement fee in 2007 to a convicted partner Lauria for a financing deal involving Bayrock’s projects with Trump in Soho, Fort Lauderdale, and Phoenix. In a separate lawsuit against a former tech executive, Bayrock lawyers contend that the techie downloaded thousands of documents in the company’s system and gave some to Kriss, including emails “related to a sealed criminal matter” that federal prosecutors in Brooklyn are pursuing. The judge who sealed many papers in the ongoing Kriss civil suit, making reference to a criminal probe related to Bayrock, also sealed the ongoing criminal case of Sal Lauria, who has a cooperation agreement with the government. These orders make it impossible to determine what the criminal matter, or even some of the civil court issues (including Bayrock’s defense), might be. -

There’s a simple ethical question at the heart of this collaboration: How can local community boards and BP Eric Adams deal with an investment group that has really no track record only that of a partner who was a front for the Russian mob and acted as a beard for known criminals?

People in NYC and in particular, Brooklyn, should be cautious in dealing with Jody Kriss whose funding is suspect and whose past is both litigious and mob connected.

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Is Eric Adams in physical danger?


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Mar 13 2014

Brown Appoints New Queens ADA’s

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Meet the new recruits.

Queens D.A Richard Brown swore in nine new assistant district attorneys this week.

These new warriors of criminal justice are young and motivated to enter a career in public service and each bring experience from nine different law schools.

In the next few months they will each be immersed in a variety of on-hands training and prosecutorial procedure including shadowing police officers, ballistics training, and visiting correctional institutions.

This is the new wave of men and women that will teach NY that crime doesn’t pay. Congrats to the new prosecutors.


  1. George T. Del Fierro Jr., Pace University School of Law
  2. Genevieve N. Gadaleta, Touro College: Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center
  3. Angela Harper, Duke University School of Law
  4. John L. Mason, Pace University School of Law
  5. Melissa D. Medilien, Fordham University School of Law
  6. Paige L. Nyer, City University of New York School of Law
  7. Kathryn A.A. O’Neill, Boston University School of Law
  8. Anish M. Patel, Brooklyn Law School
  9. Diana M. Schioppi, St. John’s University School of Law


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Mar 12 2014

Liu sues Campaign Finance Board over matching funds


He’s fighting back.

In a federal lawsuit, former Comptroller John Liu says he “suffered extreme mental and emotional anguish, along with dignity harms, resulting from being unfairly and unwarrantedly accused of wrongdoing.”

The lawsuit also alleges that former Mayor Michael Bloomberg improperly appointed Rose Gill Hearn as the board’s new chairwoman.

Stay tuned for more details.

[From The WSJ] John Liu, a former New York City comptroller who ran unsuccessfully for mayor last year, accused the city Campaign Finance Board in a federal lawsuit of unlawfully denying his campaign millions of dollars in public matching funds.

According to the lawsuit, which Mr. Liu announced at a news conference on Wednesday, the board delivered his campaign a “death sentence” when it decided in August not to give him any matching funds. The lawsuit alleges the board based its decision on a “shoddy investigation” and that its treatment of Mr. Liu was “wholly arbitrary and without rational basis.”

The lawsuit alleges Mr. Liu “suffered extreme mental and emotional anguish, along with dignity harms, resulting from being unfairly and unwarrantedly accused of wrongdoing.”

“The board’s decision led to incalculable damage to Liu’s professional reputation and earning potential,” the suit alleges.

In May, a federal jury convicted Mr. Liu’s former campaign treasurer, Jia “Jenny” Hou of various charges involving campaign finance fraud. She was later sentenced to 10 months in prison and is in the process of appealing her conviction. Mr. Liu was never charged in the case.

Amy Loprest, the board’s executive director, responded to the lawsuit in an email: “Over 25 years and seven mayoral elections, the board’s oversight has always been tough, but fair. It protects taxpayers, and ensures campaigns that receive funds are playing by the rules.”

Under the city’s public-funding system, candidates may receive $6 in taxpayer funds for each of the first $175 donated by a city resident, for a maximum of $1,050 in public funds per contributor. Mr. Liu could have received a maximum of $3.53 million in the Democratic primary.

In the September primary, Mr. Liu won 7% of the vote, coming in fourth place among the five major candidates.

Mr. Liu’s lawsuit also alleges that former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in his final days at City Hall last year, improperly appointed Rose Gill Hearn as the board’s new chairwoman. According to the City Charter, the mayor has the authority to appoint the board’s leader following consultation with the speaker of the City Council.

For full article:



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Photo of the day: Fiorello La Guardia in Queens

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Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, “The Little Flower,” pinning a medal on Patrolman John Albert, Queens, NY, 1939 – LGC

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